A 3 Year Old’s Goodbye

I’m currently sitting in the airport which is a place I haven’t been in quite some time. I’m traveling for work, making my way to a 6 day training which will end with some new certifications and knowledge about how to better support my team.

6 days. With an additional day devoted to travel. It’s the longest time I’ve ever been away from my daughter and I’ve been having a hard time with it. 6 days without bedtime stories and her little feet climbing up the side of my bed in the morning. 6 days without our car ride conversations about sunrises and sunsets, about which friends we like and which friends we don’t like this week. 6 days where I choose the seemingly selfish path of self-improvement over my family.

It is hard to get a three and a half year old through daily routines with a partner, let alone without. I’ve signed my husband up for a 6 day solo-struggle knowing exactly what I ask of him. I’m fortunate. He is the most gracious supporter, willingly signing up for the task and focusing our time together leading up to the flight pouring into me with words of confidence, truth, love, and encouragement. But what does a trip like this look like to a child?

A pre-preschooler doesn’t understand self-improvement or work trips. Time doesn’t quite make sense (“Is it tomorrow today?”). Mom is supposed to be home. I think about our FaceTime calls throughout the coming week and I get that tight pit in my stomach anticipating the inevitable questions from her.

We started talking about this trip about a week ago, trying to prepare her. When we first introduced the idea, she lifted her big doe eyes and squeaked, “But who will stay with me?”

I wasn’t prepared for what my little carbon copy told me this morning as I was packing up my bags. She looked at me with the sweetest demeanor standing next to her father and said,

“You’re not pretty today.”

Hahaha, aren’t kids are the worst?  They have this incredible knack for knocking you down. Are you feeling like a needed member of the family and that things may fall apart without you? Fat chance. Your kid is already planning her daddy daughter movie nights and is primarily concerned with how many pieces of gum she can consume before the day is over. Little shit.

But dang, do I love her. I already miss her. All of her sweetness and all of her sour.

It's Jamaica, Mon!

I’ve just returned from a long weekend in Jamaica last night (NBD). The journey started Thursday morning with a flight from Detroit to Atlanta which then connected to Montego Bay, Jamaica. When we arrived (I went as a friend’s date), our shuttle wasn’t present to pick us up so we took a cab with one other woman from Montego Bay to Negril. The trip ended up being an hour and a half taxi ride in pitch dark aside from the headlights of the vehicles on the road. And let me tell you, driving in Jamaica can be a bit hair-raising. The streets are narrow and I first thought it might be customary to play chicken with every car you pass. Once I experienced daylight driving, I realized it’s just easier to drive in the middle if no other cars are present because of the people/goats/dogs/etc. that roam the sides of the road. And Jamaicans use their horns constantly, alerting others to their presence or as a warning that one step to the right and the pedestrians or bikers will be hit. No joke.

We arrived at our hotel, checked in, and changed for the night. It was already late which left us with few available options, but someone suggested we go to a Jamaican club, “The Jungle,” so we went. It was a good time, although we were a little hesitant at first.

We started off at The Jungle with a shot of rum and a beer. When we ordered the shot, the bartender looked at us and asked “You mean on ice?” After taking the shot (no ice), I could understand her inquisitive look. Wow. Potent. The dance floor contained mostly Jamaicans with some tourists and it seemed perfectly appropriate for men to stand on the outside walls while the women danced up on and all over them. The place had a first floor and an upstairs open patio so after sweating profusely in the heat and humidity on the main floor, we went upstairs to enjoy the rest of the night.

Night one in Jamaica: First Jamaican club.

Friday was the day of the rehearsal. The morning was met with downpour (same as when we arrived in Jamaica) but the weather cleared up around noon. We headed over to the resort that the wedding party booked and met quite a few of the wedding guests/party.  (It’s funny now that I’m sitting down to write this because all of the days seem to run together. We were definitely on island time. There was not a clock to be seen the entire weekend aside from the ones we brought.) Anyway, I jumped off about a five foot cliff into the water along with friends on Friday. It may not seem like a large feat, but for someone who isn’t the best swimmer, I’d say it was pretty impressive. The alcohol in me certainly didn’t hurt. Haha. The rehearsal dinner was delicious and the company was great. We got to meet almost everyone by the rehearsal dinner and afterwards we went to the bride’s family villa to celebrate further. And I celebrated…

Day two in Jamaica: Several firsts. Notably: First experience cliff jumping.

Saturday was the wedding. It was beautiful. We stayed at the wedding party resort the entire day just enjoying everyone’s company. We also went jumping off the resort cliff again which was nice because I could do it sans alcohol – which left me feeling slightly more accomplished! The wedding was held at sunset. White chairs sat in front of a white gazebo which overlooked the cliffs and the ocean. The decorations were minimal, so as not to compete with the beautiful scenery. The weather too – perfect. Not too hot. Not too humid.

I also got the priviledge of experiencing a U of M graduate’s perception of a D2 school (mine). Haha, apparently it’s not very great 😉

The reception was short. Dinner was followed with only an hour or two of dancing before people parted ways to get bathing suits on or change into more comfortable clothes. But it was a beautiful night and everything went very smoothly. I’m glad to have been a part!

Day three in Jamaica: First destination wedding.

Sunday we slept in before going to the resort to meet up with friends for a beach day. When we got there, they wanted to go snorkeling but I was nursing a pretty decent burn so we went along for the ride and posted up at Margaritaville until they finished. It was nice just sitting under the half shade/half sun sipping margaritas and recapping the trip.

On the way back, my date and I stopped at a little shopping center. We got dropped off and noticed shortly that the center was pretty much shut down. We found one open store and walked in. When we inquired about the lack of open shops he scoffed, “It’s Sunday.” Oh… Right… Days of the week… Island time doesn’t have those in my book. Regardless of the lack of stores, we made some purchases before getting a cab ride back to our hotel:

We got back to the hotel and swam for a bit before heading out to Rick’s Cafe. The cafe is known for its cliff jumping, which I did not do. (Fail, I know. But working off the Margaritaville buzz, I figured it was best to play it safe for the mediocre swimmer.) My date (and several members of the wedding group), however, did jump. I’ve got to say, in retrospect, I’m a bit jealous.

We shared a great meal before heading back to the resort where we hung out for a bit before getting a ride back to our hotel. That’s when it got a little interesting.

We called two numbers we had gotten earlier in the trip. The first number was for a cab driver named Ricky. We had called him before with no answer late at night the previous day so it was no surprise that he didn’t come pick us up. The second number was for Clive. He had told us just the day before that he could come pick us up at any time and take us anywhere if we called. Also no answer. The lady at the front desk called someone for us and I think they may have been friends. When we got in the car, he started telling us that he was 16 miles away when we called and that no one comes out to pick up guests this late at night (mind you, we had gotten a later ride the night before)…yada yada.

Obviously this guy is going to try to screw us on fare. We had been paying $10 when we started our trip to get us back and forth from our hotel to the resort but someone told us not to pay anything over $5 so we had adjusted our pay accordingly a few rides earlier. Anyway, as he’s going on and on about how this is an inconvenience and is going to cost more money, he stops at the side of the road. There’s a woman on the shoulder. Decked out. Satin short-jumpsuit, heels, black and blond shiny hair. Make-up done. He says one word to her and she gets over to the passenger side and opens the door. On her way over, he mutters something to himself and the only word I picked out was “hooker.” Hmm. Interesting. She gets in and says “Hey.” Hi.

Then, the driver comes out and tells us it’s going to be $20 for the ride. My date just turns to me and whispers, “When I say get out, get out of the car.” Oh God. I’m not feeling this.

We sit in silence until we arrive at the hotel while the driver tells us again and again that it’s going to be $20 and his lady friend encourages him, “Just tell them the price doubles this late.” As if we couldn’t hear her? He stops the car and my date says, “This is what you’re getting. We were told $5 and it’s double that.” The cab driver starts to protest as we start sliding out of the car. My date repeats what he said with a little more force and we get out and shut the door. The gate to our hotel is closed but luckily the security is right there and opens it for us so we can achieve a hasty get-away. The driver let’s out an angered “Fuck” as he drives off. I’m sure things didn’t work out the way he’d imagined with his lady friend that night…

Day four in Jamaica: First time a cab driver solicits a hooker while I’m in the car.

Monday morning we got up, ate breakfast, and hopped on a shuttle bus for a ride to the airport. Our flight was direct and we sat across the aisle from one another. The woman next to me was an energetic but nervous flier. When we arrived, my parents picked us up and drove us home. All in all, a successful, fun, and entertaining trip to Jamaica.

Welcome to Indiana!

“We began at A, graciously proceeded to B, talent showed you to C and time brought you to D.” – RD 

 

I have such a great knack for getting myself lost. I enjoy it. I don’t plan on it, but I always end up heading in the wrong direction or taking a wrong turn. The above is from a trip I took with the intention of taking home a friend before getting to where I wanted to go. Obviously, I disregard any logical path and make my own directions. 

This evening I left Grand Rapids around 6pm to head to Rochester. Went the wrong way on the highway and realized when I got to Indiana that I had made a minor error. Hahaha. Five hours later, I showed up in Westland. I tried to get some fireworks in Indiana but the warehouse was closed, so I bought a coffee mug for a souvenir:

I also rediscovered David Gray, The Stationary Set, Tracy Chapman, The Postal Service, The Format, Kelly Clarkson, Ray LaMontagne, and Dashboard Confessional (to name a few). 

All in all, a humorous end to a great weekend! Great friends, a ton of food, plenty of dancing, and an abundance of laughter: 

Don't take life too seriously!

Friday Night Recap

8 days until Spring. I started my countdown at the beginning of the month and every day seems a little warmer and the birds seem to sing a little bit earlier and louder. There’s something about Spring that holds promise of a better or new life; I’m holding earnestly to that belief this year.

The thing is, I’m at one of those pivot points in life. Not pivotal – there are no crucial decisions I’m coming up against or life threatening paths I must take or turn from which will wrench my heart in any way. The wrenching has already occurred and subsides, with occasional flare-ups, each day. But a pivot point – one which presents me with many opportunities, paths, or mindsets from which to choose.

The Friday night recap begins at this pivot point, from which I am able to look many years behind and assess my past and/or throw myself right into the present, but I refrain from looking too far into the future – it’s unwritten, you know. It’s time that I put down that pen and stop trying to predict the unpredictable. Rather, I have decided that it is time to bring out my highlighter – if you will – and call attention to the positive things in life.

Here are a few:

I have a family that has supported me both when I am at my best and at my worst. They have stuck by me when I have been self-absorbed and uncaring, harsh, and ugly. And they have loved and continue to love me with honesty – and that is a difficult thing to do.

I have found true love in friendships – friendships which are founded in something more than convenience or activity – but which have struck me in a way that has left me feeling changed in an encouraging, inspiring way. I once thought that these friendships were hard to find, but the older I get and the more aware I become, the easier I find them. It’s a blessing – this kind of friendship – because it makes weathering life a little less like weathering and a little more like exploring.

I have traveled. I have traveled from the west-side of the east side of MI to the true west side and currently reside on the east-side of the east side of MI. Follow? And I have grown in each location in a different way. I have traveled to Canada, to Ohio, to Illinois, to Florida, to Mexico, to France, to Portugal, to Spain, to Great Britain, and to Ireland! I have climbed down eroded steps from bluffs to shore and dined like royalty on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as the waves lapped up against the rocks. I have gotten lost – both in every day trips and long-distant adventures – and I have found my way.

I have loved. I have loved in a way that has left me utterly open and exposed. There’s some sort of raw beauty in that vulnerability, I believe. It’s something too precious to allow pain, anger, or bitterness to grab hold of – despite their very eager attempts to imprint.

I have learned. I have learned that learning opportunities present themselves daily and that they must be both spontaneously embraced and eagerly sought. The greatest lessons often come with the hardest instruction – sadly, they often come up when I feel least compliant or patient which means I must be constantly open to growth.

The truth is, I am standing at this pivot point with my highlighter ready so that I might appreciate life’s twists and turns rather than dread or lament them. My current lesson can be summed up with my new mantra:

Enjoy living in the now; act spontaneously; embrace the unknown.

Prior to, I stood at this pivot point stutter-stepping in fear as I looked at the many exaggerated future paths that laid before me and I realized that I – have – zero – control. So I’m looking inward and looking outward to learn lessons, to find adventure, and to continue to grow in a way that stems less from future ideas and more from present fulfillment.

Wishing me luck? I may need more of it than you’d think…