It was in the 80’s today in America’s Finest City. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the air felt like a blanket wrapped around your skin. Standing on my grandmother’s deck, looking out at a grove of palm trees and SDSU’s bell tower to my left, I felt overwhelmed concurrently with the beauty and the sadness of this life.
Do you know this feeling?
This week was great. Lot’s ordinary-day moments on steroids. And it’s not always like that.
For me, these types of moments include: having a no-bullshit conversation with a friend you haven’t seen in months; hugging someone you never to get to see for more than six seconds; and Christmas morning with the whole family. At these times, you’re aware of how precious these moments are, and at the same time, you’re aware of how fleeting they are.
They’re precious because they’re rare, and because everything aligns.
I was a princess for a day. Literally. I was a princess for Halloween. A few little girls ran up to me thinking I was Cinderella. My guy friend carried me to my car at the end of the night because my feet hurt from my heels. He told me I’d find my prince one day. It was pretty sweet.
I watched a touching wedding ceremony. The first words out of the minister’s mouth were, “I know you’re all used to long, boring wedding ceremonies, but this one is different. We are going to make this as short and sweet as possible, so that we can get you guys to to the bar and get this party started.” They played “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole as the bridesmaids and groomsmen walked down the aisle. Each couple did little dance moves when they got to the altar. The flower girl went AWOL and was running back up the aisle as the bride was walking down. The groom dropped the ring. Again, I’m sick, and I was doing everything in my power not to cough during the “I dos.” I’m actually very impressed with the sheer power of my will to suppress multiple coughs over the course of the most memorable, life-changing five minute segment of the ceremony. The setting was beautiful. It was at Karl Strauss in Sorrento Valley, and the altar was backed up against a floating garden. There were bougainvillea trees with pink flowers and subtle stone sculptures framing the water. They had stringed white lights lining a few of the branches. What touched me most was the time leading up to right before they kissed. The minister did something different, he asked them to hold each other, closely. They held each other like for a long time while the minister talked about the ups and downs of marriage, and the happiness and heartache it brings. She’d take her hand away to wipe a tear every so often, but they stayed locked together, really close, until they kissed. The kiss was very romantic, somewhere between a kiss and make out. At dinner, I met a man who wrote a book condemning bum fights, the videos of homeless people fighting that were uploaded to YouTube. I thought I might interview some homeless people for Surfer Stoke, and it seemed like kismet. As we were leaving, my uncle took my nena by the arm and walked her up past the floating garden. He said, “I’m really happy you came, Mom. Did you have a good time?” She said, “I tell ya, I almost didn’t come, but I won’t let this pain get the best of me. I had a wonderful time. Thank God for Natalie for taking me. Isn’t she a pretty girl?” “She’s very pretty, Mom.”
Great surf day/touching gesture: One of my friends offered to lend me his camera. It’s not an inexpensive camera. The three of us had an especially good surf day. Both of my friends lent me things that day. I think if all of us were a little more pro-active about being generous and helping one another, if we worked on it together (through this project even) the world could be a substantially better place. It’s a matter of really thinking about other people’s needs. I know I keep referencing this book, but I love it. In “The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clear My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun” Gretchen Rubin mentions this type of generosity in her section about friendship. For the month of June, one of Gretchen’s projects was to do a better job of being generous. She takes out the idea of giving gifts as being generous. That’s generous, of course, but we can do things for each other that have a more profound effect that don’t cost any money. She established four ways: help people to think big; bring people together; contribute in my way; and cut people slack. She mentions setting a friend up on a blind date with someone else she knew: they fell in love and now they’re married. She helped her friends clean out their closets, because she’s a type-A and she loves organizing stuff. She took their unwanted clothes down to charities for them. I love spending time with my nena, and taking her to the wedding wasn’t a have-to-do type thing at all. But she would not have been able to go if I didn’t take her, and it felt good. It felt good to hear her say she had great time. Do good, feel good. That’s not a Gretchen Rubin thing, that’s a universe thing.
I spent time with my Nena: We went to the wedding together and I went over to her house today to ask her questions about her life. We looked at her family photos, and I took some pictures of them. I knew that my grandfather had been a surfer in San Diego in the 50’s and 60’s. He died in the bar that is now called “The Kraken” on the 101 in 1973. She told me he used to come home and says things like, “I’m so stoked, the waves were so good.” She doesn’t know about Surfer Stoke or anything, and I was stoked to hear he used to say “stoke.” My mom confirmed surfers’ use of the word “stoke” has been around forever, but I was surprised. As far as I knew, our generation invented it. It made me wonder where he surfed, maybe he loved Pipes like I do. Of course, I erased the entire transcript because I don’t know how to work this tape recorder. I will have to just have to do it again, better the next time.