Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Roof Racks Rock

X and I rolled out of the city in the morning on the two-hour drive up to Sacramento to pick up an inherited dresser and bring it back down to her cute little San Francisco Victorian on a hill. We jabbered all the way across the bay, through the golden oak-studded hills, and along the straight oleander-ed 99. We spent an hour in Old Town Sacramento, ate lunch and bought candy because candy is road trip food. I chose licorice wheels and she chose cinnamon bears. We traded jokes with the cashier like we were high school kids.

From Old Town, we drove out to the suburbs. The person from whom we were to pick up the dresser stood in the driveway with his hands on his hips and a near audible disapproving cluck as we hopped out of my Jeep. He had sent measurements which I had checked against Tiger Lily's interior, but wires crossed somewhere along the way, and the dresser wouldn't fit inside. Additionally, we didn't know we also would be carrying back a large majolica bird bath, boxes of china, and a clock for X's mother.

Negativity pulsed from the man. His low expectations out of X, the Jeep, and me made me fierce. Only I get to tell myself I am incapable of something. Part of the reason I chose Tiger Lily is because I believe her to be badass, and to me, badass means capable and surprising. And, she has a roof rack for a reason.

So, we ran to the hardware store and bought ratcheting straps.

It was 99 degrees Fahrenheit while X and I loaded the Jeep and strapped the dresser on top. Sweat curled X's golden hair and turned her face strawberry red. Sweat soaked through my bra and shirt. My feet sweated so much they slipped around in my sandals, so I took my sandals off. Bad idea. The concrete was like a branding iron. I put my sandals back on and kept going.

As soon as straps were tight and cargo secure, we defiantly drove away from doubt.

X treated me to iced coffee, and we told more stories on the way down. We kept breaking into laughter for no other reason than we had won. We had spent the day snacking on childhood candy, asserting our strength and freedoms, proving we were powerful, just like we tried to do when we were teenagers. Except now, we didn't have to try, we just were.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Camping With Teenagers

It is like playing Whac-a-mole keeping camping teenagers in their respective tents at night, but it is worth it, because sitting around a campfire, singing songs (even the aforementioned Oasis "Wonderwall"), listening to a scary story told by a funny young storyteller, and playing memory games in the smoke and redwood needles is special indeed.

We rolled out yesterday along the turquoise ocean, cutting through hills dotted yellow with oenethera, lupine, and coreopsis until we reached the redwoods in the low coastal range. Some kids had never camped before, and tent set-up was understandably entertaining. I had borrowed a tent I had a hard time visualizing how to put together, so I needed guidance from a young, wise camper to make it work. Eventually, with a lot of teamwork, we all got our tents up and temporary homes as comfy as we could make them, we went for a short walk, and we made a sloppy dinner, likely as loaded with redwood needles as nutrients.

After food, stories, campfire smoke, and s'mores, we retired for a night among old trees.

This morning, the adults rose earlier than the kids, and we made ourselves several pots of French press coffee. Talking with my colleagues under the lace of new redwood needles felt good, like we were supposed to be right where we were at that very moment. The kids rose and scarfed down bowls of sugary cereal. After we broke down our camp, we went for a short, easy hike. The teenagers ignored it, but the adults paused at a still rooted, downed tree that bounced like a mechanical bull. We had to play, so we stopped and did.

When I was very young in Oregon, my family lived on the side of a hill, and growing sideways out of that hill was a strapping Douglass fir that was just strong enough for my brother and me, one at a time, to climb out and bounce on it, a natural trampoline. Arms out and knees bending to the tree's bounce, we would ride it like a snowboarder rides her board.

The kids camped and felt like adults, cooking and singing and feeling all their feelings so hard. The adults—each well over 30—camped and felt like kids, playing and bouncing and just being happy around each other. Among the trees a thousand years older than any of us could fathom, each of us lost track of age.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

The Nineties and Fashion

Being in high school and college in the nineties taught me that clothes should feel good and be at least a little practical. In high school, I wore ripped jeans with brightly colored or black opaque tights underneath, baggy flannels, and boots. These are comfortable clothes. In college I had a flowy sunflower print dress that I loved to wear with my sturdy-toed work boots. I remember wearing that outfit to watch the boys at crew regattas and feeling like a million bucks, and once, a young man, older than me but not so much that it felt creepy, stopped me on the street and said, "I just have to tell you that dress looks amazing on you." Both me and my feet were happy.

In college, my flannels and sweatshirts went from my back to my male friends' backs and back to mine. So many of our clothes were interchangeable. I don't want to wear my male friends' clothes now, but a couple decades ago, there was a lot of comfort in the universality of our closets.

Nowadays, I wear some clothes that aren't comfy, for sure. Tight jeans, a pair of tall black platform wedges with sexy ankle straps that are comfortable as far as heels got but not as far as my Solomons go, and so on, but some current trends I can't get into. Hiking in yoga pants? It seems like the height of impracticality. Hiking requires pockets. I need pockets for keys, a knife, dog poop bags, and really cool stones or seed pods or interestingly shaped nuggets of wood. I need pants that will survive sliding down steep surfaces on my butt and occasional branches that bite at me on in the trail. Yoga pants may show off curves or taught thighs, but yoga pants don't allow for adventure. And, if someone doesn't think the fact I can smile, tell stories, and occasionally crack very fine jokes all the way to the summit is damn sexy, his loss.

The clothes of the nineties aren't the only thing I miss. A Soul Coughing, Pixies, or Jane's Addiction song can still get me sweetly nostalgic; I can't help but to sing along at the top of my lungs to "Coming Down the Mountain." And, Oasis's "Wonderwall" can still piss me off for reasons way too complicated to ever explain to most people. The music still moves me.

And so does, believe it or not, the food. When I started college in the mid nineties, TGI Friday's, which strangely held an outpost on my campus, served cheesy baked spinach artichoke dip. I loved it then. I still love it, but, as we all know, with age comes wisdom, and I have learned how to make something better than what I ate back then.

Perhaps this version of the recipe straddles the thick-soled work boots of the nineties and the ankle-strapped platform wedges of the teens; I made it for a recent party at a friend's house, recipe doubled and amped up with a little more hot sauce and a lot more Parmesan, and folks who came of age in the eighties, nineties, and naughts all scarfed it down with audible pleasure. Some fashions, thank goodness, outlast decades.