12.27.2010

Here comes the sun.


Sunlight hitting my face after some 34 hours of breathing nothing but recycled air.  Standing on the disembarkment steps of our plane, hovering just feet above the South African ground, my eyes closed to kick my head back in line with the warm, warm sun.  Maximum soakage.  Maximum bliss.

It’s the third time I’ve been to Africa, and the joy for me always starts in getting off the plane.  Not sure why it amuses me so much, but I love the fact that I’ve yet to get off a plane through the typical tunnel and gate fashion as we do in the states.  Rather, every time it’s like I’m having my own old-fashioned Hollywood moment… descending the steps, taking my first steps across the runway, hair and clothing getting whipped around in the new air.  I think I appreciate that brief moment to just connect with the country/state I just flew in to… a reminder of why I came so far, a taste of the story to come on the other side of the airport… before I’m thrown in to the hell of customs, border control and not-so-silent prayers of “oh please god’s” that my baggage will please, oh please, oh please all be there.

Luckily it was, and a 10-minute chatty car-ride later, I’m suddenly standing in front of what will become my new home for the next month. Seventy-two feet and currently docked in Cape Town, South Africa, she is awaiting her transfer in a day or so up to Namibia.  She’s stunning, and her name is the Sea Dragon.

(CK – I successfully used all aft, starboard, sheet, etc. terminology, and tied the what what out of a bowline.  Thanks for the pre-trip guidance!)

Today was simply a taste of her beauty and a stroll around deck – after which the beach seemed like an amazing idea.  It’s Boxing Day here, so the beaches were fantastically crowded – which might have been the case anyways as it’s in the mid-80s for temperature.  The water felt just the right degree of frigid, and was kind of like wading in a seaweed facial – no waves to speak of.  We’ll get some later this week however when we venture east a bit for surfing and wildlife sighting…

Followed the beach up with 20R beers (less than $3) at the corner bar and watched the sunset – which I could hardly believe it – was almost 9pm!  I forgot, coming from Winter, that it’s really summer down here.  Having just experienced the longest hours of dark in the year, I’m now experiencing the longest amount of light.

Sun, water, long days… happy me.

Bottle caps hunting from the beach yielded some pretty rad designs!

12.25.2010

Just three words.

This is a mess. Packing Photo #1.
Just in the last few days, I’ve had many a friend phone and ask with a half-knowing laugh, “Are you scared?”

Insert Sara on the other end of the phone, tazerd each time by the simple, 3-word question. In my attempt to say something profound here, I open up my mouth, and am met instead by some form of sputtering delirium, akin to the adults in Charlie Brown. (waa, eh wa wa…)

Scared? Umm…. Yeah. Hypothetically speaking.

I’ve been waffling through this week suspended in some sort of link-up between my excitement over the impending voyage, the numbness of hanging in this ostensibly endless vortex of “The Wait,” and a complete disassociation with the reality of actually leaving. In my head, it seems like the resolution of this off-kilter will come to light when I am finally at/on/with the boat… and thus it has become “The Boat,” slayer of “The Wait” and sling-shotter of all things currently unknown in to the future.

So will riding on a slingshot be like riding on a rollercoaster? Will I skid out the other end and yell triumphantly, “Let’s do that again!”?

Not sure.

The older I get, the more improbable the notion seems that we can call the future or what tomorrow brings. That said, I do pride myself on having a strong sense of intuition. And in this particular situation, my gut, head, soul, heart, body are telling me… well, not a darn cohesive thing actually. It’s a fog of my inner, optimistic M.O. psyching itself up to withstand the blows of seeing one of the most disastrous environmental issues of today roll by, for thirty-one days in a row. I can’t answer how that’s going to feel – but if it’s any indicator, I get goose bumps and want to throw up at the same time.

Other three-word quandary from the week, “Are you ready?”

#2: This stage felt HUGE!  Items of note: new cute/functional KAVU digs, survival kit a la A.Davis,
orange-crossing guard vest, and yes, that's a pink super-hero belt in the foreground.  
Sure – just as long as we’re not using standard metrics or this reader’s packing barometer. Case and point: 8 hours prior to my departure, I had yet to pack a single thing in my bags. I went to the gym in the morning, activated my new eReader, and enjoyed homemade cinnamon rolls & Mom-mosa’s (grapefruit juice & champagne) with my Mamasita. But, as a good friend reminded me earlier this week, packing in advance is not necessarily my style. I believe his words were, “Would have been worried if you were packed already!”

However, in the midst of all that this morning, I had a few triumphant moments of feeling like Jack and Jill had finally made it to the top of the hill and didn’t have to carry those blasted pails anymore. Time to run down. Dive in. LEARN. I even ran down the stairs at one point yesterday, yelling to my Mom, “I’M GOING TO AFRICA!!!!!”

For now, there’s a plateau in the middle of the downward hill called “London-Heathrow Airport layover for 13 hours.” So, as I eat my marmite & cheese sandwich today (actually quite good!), I’ll raise a glass of wintry red wine to all of you, and wish you the best of holidays to round out the year, a moment each day to kiss this crazy world in which we live, and another three words:

Bring. It. On.

#3: And it all fits in just three Osprey bags... what else could a girl want?
(Don't actually answer that.  Or, actually, let me hear your thoughts on that!)

12.20.2010

Enough is Enough.


There’s this funny thing that happens when water meets the land… I’ve been drawn to that space since I was a little kid.

Barefoot, facing the ocean, toes rooted – you can feel all at once both the firmness of the ground and the way in which it continually shifts. Water pulls over the tops of your feet, rushing back behind your ankles as the waves crash in and run out on to the beach… and then the tickle of the reverse wash over your toes, the pull of sand out from under your feet. It’s one of my favorite things in the world to feel. Like standing on the summit of a mountain, it’s one of the best places in nature to just feel. Feel all of it.

A year ago I found myself in that very spot, teetering on the edge of Playa Carricitos, Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. The clouds were thick and rippling above, but hovered like a Chinook about fifteen degrees off the horizon, creating a condensed channel of sunset that ran across the water to the beach in dancing reds, oranges and pinks.

Next to me was a woman. A Canadian chic hovering about 5’3”, she’d invited me to this beach on my last night in Mexico for wine and salsa. (Not the best pairing, but that’s a discussion for later.) As the sun was getting ready to tip below the horizon, we’d scampered from our sandy seats to the water’s edge, dug our toes in, and closed our eyes.

I could feel the last bit of sun warming my face, and – as those of you who know me well would not be surprised – totally took to the moment with goosebumps and tears… emotion coming out of my eyes and running lines down my skin with everything from the last 6 months. And this is the moment in which I found out that my new friend “felt people.” She didn’t go so far as to say she was a psychic… but you can do with what follows as you will.

“He says he’s proud of you,” she said, seemingly out of nowhere. “He loves you, and enough is enough. Get the hell out of Boulder.”

Now, I’ll put aside the shock of a) this coinciding with immense feelings that Jonny’s spirit had just joined us on the beach, and b) said-random woman who I’d known all of 4 days had just tapped in to my deceased boyfriend, when I’d never even mentioned him.

Instead, I’ll digress for a moment and beg to differ that “get the hell out of Boulder” was a little strong-handed. In short, the Boulder community is the shit. I could put that more gracefully, but there’s some strong sentiment in there.

What stuck with me more, and was the first thing I thought of the next morning, and the following morning… and was the one-liner of many a toasts with friends, and the ra-ra motto throughout the year… ironically muttered to me by random people on the street and showing up in conversations around the globe… was “Enough is Enough.”

Whew. Deep exhale on that one…

In the months previous to this moment, I’d felt the intense vibrations of a community swirl, support and shift… naturally flowing like good energy does towards those things that are about to fall down. I’d learned that in the midst of tragedy, when you are sure that every fiber of your being might suddenly collapse as the rug is ripped out from under your feet, that falling is actually harder than you think. For no matter which way you list, you ricochet off the vibrations of those all around you, and miraculously, you stay up. You’re suspended, you have support wires.

I’ve thought, consequently, that to stay still in this middle area propped up by the vibrations of others is probably the easy way out, a safe zone. It’s a protection mechanism, and one I’ve tried to consciously shed in the last year in favor of more extreme highs and lows, in search of more beauty, to get thrashed around by the blows. I know this about myself that I would rather ride the full extremes of a situation by moving through them, exploring and greeting them, than to stand still and feel like I might for even a second be lacking openness to life’s full potential.

And so, what then? Do I stand still, or throw myself to the waves? And for what? For life? For Love? For exploration, growth, discovery. Dancing, engaging, participating in my process, supporting that of another… and at the same time the realization that as much as it’s uncomfortable – moments of stillness are my crux.

December 3rd I drove away from Boulder, teary yet smiling, full of the vibrations of a community that I love beyond words, and ready to explore myself a bit outside “The Bubble.” Driving away that day, I had to laugh a bit when I realized it was exactly a year from that evening on the beach. While I do not think that now is the time to ‘get the hell out of Boulder’, it sure the heck is the time for a lot… Bring it on.

Enough is enough. I’m still trying to figure out what that means, but the closest approximation I have is that it has something to do with finessing the in between. The space between your limits and the unknown of your full potential. The kinetics between balance and falling over. The aesthetic and grace of moving through life mixed with the bumbling and stumbling of a 20-something as she tries to retain some sense of a dance between the toe-stubs of life.

Here’s to figuring some of that out.