Spending Time with the Familiar

What a beautiful day.

I spent my day yesterday with an old friend, a very good friend, from high school. We decided to spend the day at a small amusement park that we frequented as kids; neither of us had been back in quite a few years. We rode a few rides together, discovered that we’re perhaps older and less flexible than we were as teenagers and spent a great deal of time talking and reminiscing. Our conversations bounced from remembering our mutual past, our individual childhoods, our present lives and hopes and hurts. It ranged in tone from mildly humorous and immature to incredibly deep and touching.

The familiar surroundings allowed us a sense of comfort and nostalgia. We shared ourselves with each other in the way that only old friends seem to be capable of doing. This communion came at a necessary time for both of us. It allowed each of us a chance to talk through things others in our lives might not fully understand. Our history together allows us that understanding.

It felt so good to spend this time with my dear friend. I drove home from our day together feeling alive, appreciated, and loved.

That is what friends are for.

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Roadtrip – Written for Christina to Be Told @ Story Slam

When your friend, who has stage four cancer wants to go on a road trip and spend time with you, you don’t say no; not that I would have wanted to anyway. When she has a random creative idea about stopping at rest stops along the way to get pictures that match up with lyrics she’s stayed up all night copying onto large sheets of paper and there are no rest stops along your journey, then what? You MAKE a rest stop and that’s exactly what I did. When I travel with my friend Christina there’s never a dull moment and we ALWAYS get lost. Most of the time we’re too busy talking about life, boys, and music, and laughing so hard we can’t breathe to pay much attention to where we’re going. Toots, my GPS, is always “recalculating.” Which makes us laugh even harder.

On our most recent road trip to an MDA benefit rock concert, we were driving down the highway at about 65…okay, okay 75 mph. Christina starts reading me the song lyrics she’s copied down; the lyrics are for songs that local rock bands wrote, for most of whom Christina has become like a member of the family. These lyrics mean something to us. They’re part of Christina’s Kicking Cancer’s Ass playlist. As we climb a hill on the highway, Christina reads one off and says, “We need a sunny rest stop for this one.” Realizing that we haven’t seen a single rest stop on the highway we’re on the whole trip I quickly come to the conclusion that it is now up to me to create my own rest stop. As the car crests the top of the hill, I look out over a median filled to the brim with bright yellow daffodils and think, “perfect!” I swerve wildly from the right lane, into the middle lane and again into the left-hand lane as we quickly approach a gravel patch alongside the road. I slam on my breaks and swerve over onto the gravel, completely ignoring the “for emergency vehicles only” sign, and suddenly we’re surrounded by daffodils. The perfect place for Christina’s picture.

We spring from the car, Christina grabbing the lyrics she wants, and I get my camera ready. Once we get the shot we’re looking for we jump back in the car and hurriedly buckle our seatbelts, but not quickly enough because before I even hear the click of my seatbelt locking into place I glimpse the flashing lights in my rearview mirror.

Think fast!

I glance at Christina and calmly roll down my window. “Hi officer,” I exclaim.

“Everything okay?” he asks.

“Yeah, I’m sorry, my friend just wasn’t feeling well so I pulled over real quick. We were just leaving.” And just like that, he gave us the go-ahead. Going ahead, however, was easier said than done since he blocked my review mirror with his vehicle and I couldn’t see around him. As I finally peeled out, Christina snapped a selfie with the police lights flashing in the background and we were off!

As soon as the cop was out of sight we began laughing hysterically. Christina said, “I didn’t expect you to swerve across two lanes of traffic just to get a picture.”

“It was soo worth it!” I said. And it was. You see, if nothing else, being friends with Christina has taught me that you have to live in the moment and love with all your heart. I couldn’t let that moment, a perfect field of gorgeous yellow daffodils, pass us by and when you love someone you do everything in your power to make those memories last.

Playing in the Kitchen

One of my favorite means of creative expression is playing around in the kitchen. I am far from a great cook and I’m not an excellent baker by any stretch, but I’m not afraid to make a mess and be creative in my endeavors. I don’t follow recipes; I might start out with one, but inevitably things get changed. Extra ingredients are thrown in while ones less pleasing to my palate are left out. I am at my most creative in the kitchen when it comes to baking. Banana bread has become an art form for me. Perhaps that sounds bizarre, but it’s fun to play around with a super simple recipe and my husband can’t get enough banana bread, so I’ve had to find ways to change things up a bit. His favorite is chocolate peanut butter banana bread. Mine is chocolate cinnamon banana bread.

Recently I discovered lavender. I was at our Central Market (large indoor farmers’ market) and one of the bread stands had fig and lavender muffins. I was curious so I bought one. It was love at first bite! I went back the next weekend and was disappointed to find that the did not have fig and lavender muffins again, but instead lemon lavender muffins. I like lemon so I figured I might as well try them too. Again, my taste buds were astonished. This weekend I went back looking for a new concoction of lavender and whatever, but much to my dismay they had no lavender muffins of  any kind. However, my favorite coffee stand did not disappoint! They had a lavender cupcake latte on their specials board, so I bellied up to the counter and said, “I’ll take one of those! Iced please.” The coffee no sooner touched my tongue and I was in love, so much so that I made a second run. Before leaving the market, I stopped by the spice and tea stand and bought myself an ounce of lavender. By the way, that doesn’t sound like much, but boy, oh boy, it is!

This evening I decided to play in the kitchen. I ended up making black raspberry lavender cupcakes. I wasn’t sure about the pairing, but I figured I’d use what I had and I had plenty of frozen black raspberries. They turned out delicious! FB_IMG_1433124923834 (1)

Like I said, I’m not a baking genius, I’m just not afraid to be creative and get it wrong once in a while. After all, “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep” (Adams). What could have turned out to be a rather unpleasant tasting mistake turned out to be a true gem. This is one recipe I won’t soon forget.

Works Cited:

Adams, Scott. The Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle’s-eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions. New York: HarperBusiness, 1996. Print.