I first met Victoria three years ago. My niece brought her along to our annual Christmas party and my initial impression was she was sweet, polite, fashionable, and pretty. I didn't think much beyond that until later in the evening, once the party had finally wrapped up and it was close to 2am with just a handful of us remaining, exhausted on the couch when she picked up a guitar and started to sing. I remember feeling the room stop, every pair of eyes in that room glued to her as she sang. Each of us utterly blown away by such talent.
These days I see her regularly, on random weekdays when she and my niece come out to visit, to help me with the boys or see a movie. Visits that usually end at our favorite local Mexican restaurant with margaritas and bottomless bowls of chips and salsa I always come home to regret. Last Wednesday when she was down we decided to film a song from her album. Little Things.
If my intuition is right, this gal is destined for good things down the line. With that voice, heart and talent, she is certainly deserving of it.
Last week we took a short road trip up north, to Greenfield, to visit my best friend's grandmother. A trip we've made countless times before starting back in our teenage years, armed with big shot attitudes and one freshly granted license (hers). Just the two of us, sailing up the coast, five and a half hours in a big maroon mini van. Radio blasting, no cell phones, no cyber map assistance to help guide us to a nearby gas station when we pushed the tank to dangerous limits.
Circumstances combined, that make me shudder to think of now as a grown women picturing my own children embarking on the same kind of journey.
"God's country" is what her grandfather use to call it. Miles upon miles of green pastures being the highlight of this quaint farming community. Their house just down the street from the family ranch where her grandmother had been raised. Where the now abandoned barn sits decaying, with rotting antique automobiles and one beautiful white owl that stands guard up top the peak of the roof beams.
The pastures that once housed green produce, have now been inherited by grape vines. Bringing wine, branded with gold flaked emblems on the bottles, initials of their family name.
We spent the day looking thorough her photo albums, visiting the San Miguel Mission and having a picnic in the afternoon on her back lawn, watching Rex race around the yard on that red bicycle, a plastic bottle wedged in the spokes making it sound like a real motor bike. Laughing at the baby and him laughing back at us.
The three days away were restful and it was so nice to get one kid away. On a special trip alone without his brothers. Where he is the only one heard. And he, the only one in line to pick out souvenirs he doesn't have to share, in the gift shops along the way. And have a bath to himself, and a nap and a conversation at an unfamiliar dinner table in a city he's never heard of, with all eyes and ears on him. Taking the boys on these lone trips is something we try to do occasionally when we can. Something I hope they each remember in the long run. Hayes is too little. But Rex, he came home with pockets full of goodies, a mouth full of tales, and a new bounce in his step.
It was a good trip. And I will happily be sharing more about Elva over on The Ma Books at some point soon. So keep an eye out over there if you can?
"So why am I in your wedding pictures? None of the kids in my class were in their parent's wedding?" " I don't know. I guess you were just lucky." - A recent conversation between Arlo and me on the drive home from school. Once he finally inquired about our wedding. An event he, as a ten month old, was there to witness. Dressed to the nines in his little linen romper and stiff white baby shoes. A fact I was never the least bit ashamed of. But found it funny that at nearly nine years old he might finally wonder about it.
Truth is, Mike and I dated for nine years before marrying. It was not a shotgun wedding by any means. Actually, I had never been dead set on being married in the first place. But I can remember clearly when that all changed. I was about five months pregnant, and showing. Working the morning shift at Starbucks where I recall how awful it was seeing a very nice man staring pitifully down at my bare ring finger, in such a state. I didn't like the feeling. Not at all. I was 25 and well loved but that bare finger seemed to suggest another story. I decided then that maybe it did bother me. To be pregnant and unwed. Shortly after Mike proposed, crouched in a seaside cave holding a little black box.
And yet ironically, all these years later, my legal name remains unchanged, and the ring that came tucked in that little box, that I love so dearly I have actually never worn on a regular basis. My bare fingers just as confident without it. But I still smile, to this day, remembering the sad look on that poor man's face. And my heart sinking at the sight of his pity, thinking I was unspoken for or neglected in that snug green apron. Blooming belly, black grinds in my finger nails, Making coffee for strangers at 5am.
Last month (how is it October already?) we celebrated our anniversary. 8 years married. 16 as a couple.
We spent one night in Palm Springs, where we showed up on the wrong night, after failing to pawn off three of the four boys, so It wasn't exactly the romantic getaway he had hoped for. Or quiet, or even mildly relaxing taking into account the expected amounts of fits, and frustration that accompany such a thing. But, there WAS all day swimming, and 108 degree dry desert temps, and good food, and a few drinks and a long night's rest. As well as one frightful accident on a bike newly stripped of it's training wheels that ended with a bloody hand and a near (pre breakfast) trip to the local ER.
Another year, another story. Another close call.
To which we've learned to laugh about at the end of the day. Toasting everything that's come and gone between us these past several years as husband and wife. And to all that still stands ahead.
To new dreams and fresh disappointments.