Shades of Blue

Monday, July 31, 2017

We abandon the cold tiled floors and narrow balcony of our twelfth-floor hotel room, pass the pool, and go down the sand-covered stairs that lead to the beach. The grains of sand slide and crunch under my flip-flops. My almost-two year old is tucked between the crook of my arm and my chest, one pudgy little arm wrapped around my shoulder. The sky is azure and the ocean is undulating layers of marine blue, turquoise, and teal, capped by frothy white waves.

Yet clumps of wiry, brick-colored seaweed litter the sandy beach, and waves crash roughly against the shore, causing my chest to tighten each time my toddler nears the water. My critical eye, my worrying mind, pull me out of the moment. But maybe it's a myth that beauty and ugliness are opposites, that presence and absence are contrary to each other—a myth that we have to abandon one to achieve the other.

Pink petals, spring snow

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I'm leaving the doctor's office—a routine appointment. As I walk down the sidewalk avoiding the slush, I hear the drone of cars passing behind me. Spring had come early, the cherry blossoms blooming in March. But winter hadn't left yet either. The heavy snow that fell the day before shrouded city streets, newly green lawns, burgeoning tulips and lilies, and trees in blossom. As I pass under a young tree, I look down and see its pink petals—which the heavy, wet snow had pulled loose—mixed with snow and landscaping rocks. The sun is already shining again, and I smile at the impermanence and incongruity.

Crunchy Leaves, Hazy Light

Sunday, November 6, 2016

It's fall, a few days into October. I'm hiking Bacherlor Gulch in Beaver Creek, Colorado. To the right is a small upslope, and to the left is a slightly steeper drop to a small creek. The sun is shining but clouds build to the west. Soon it'll be cold enough for a warm jacket, but for now the bright light is hazy through the canopy of trees. Yellow and brown leaves cover the path, and they crunch under my shoes as I walk. The creek bubbles beside me. Up ahead I see my family through the guazy light, and it's all so beautiful that for a moment time slows, almost stops.

Summer String Lights

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The news was bad today, with seventy-seven dead in a terrorist attack in Nice. It's hard to process, especially when you have two young kids at home—and when it seems to happen every week. I hear my dog scratch at the back door and let her in, leaving my three year old on the potty and my one year old on the other side of the baby gate. It's after eight pm, and the night air—not cool, not warm—envelopes me. The string lights hanging from the porch ceiling catch my eye. I feel the urge to return and make sure my kids are safe, but I also feel compelled to plug in the lights, let their soft orange glow brighten up my little corner of the night, and have one moment of quiet beauty.

Paper Lanterns, Little Tokyo

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I'm in downtown LA, but I almost feel like I'm in Japan. Sushi and ramen. Candy shops. Wooden structures with curved roofs. Paper lanterns. We're not sure which restaurants are good here. We step inside one. Leave. Pass another and then circle back to it. There, we wait for a table, and after we're seated and served, we feed our toddler with chopsticks. Diners at nearby tables laugh at his wide, ready mouth, and we laugh, too. On the walk back to the car, the night is warm. People talk and laugh. A man sings karaoke in the plaza. It's well past bedtime, but we're on vacation, and so I stop under the paper lanterns, point them out to my son, and in pointing them out to him really see them myself, white and red and filled with glowing light against the starless blue sky.

White Bunny, Red Leaves

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sitting on my back porch on a fall day, a ceramic lawn ornament framed by red leaves catches my eye. The pale gray rabbit, which I've have for years without paying it much attention, seems to have a spirit that its ceramic exterior can't contain. Maybe it's the childhood references: Peter Rabbit, the Velveteen Rabbit, and Alice and Wonderland. Or maybe it's the magic of the moment: a wet fall day, leaves turning gala apple red and yellow, the sun dropping into the mountains, a light, quick rain, and a double rainbow. And in the middle of all that, the small, still rabbit.

Ruins of Tulum

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

We arrived by bus. The heat and humidity immediately oppressed us. After visiting the expansive, air-conditioned gift shop, where we had a short break, we boarded a trailer to the Tulum ruins, which we entered through a doorway within the wall that surrounds them. First the bumpy trailer ride, then the narrow doorway, gave me the feeling of entering a place apart. As sweat formed on my forehead and ran down my face, I followed the guide from crumbling structure to crumbling structure along winding dirt paths lining cliffs. Our guide talked of frescoes, carvings, gods, and goddesses, of rituals and riches, of an observatory to track the movement of the stars and a window meticulously built to frame the sun at equinox. Nostalgia can trick us into thinking the past was somehow more special than the present, and it wasn't. The past was just different. But that difference hangs around the stone structures like an aura. It reaches out and brushes against you as you navigate the ruins, as real as the stone, as visceral as the heat.