unhurried

we still have a little over a month of summer. well, the season at least. the heat will certainly continue through october and perhaps part of november, but the spirit of summer will be long gone.

i always have a hard time during this time of year. the start of a new school year intermingling with the long, slow days of summer. although i am far out of school, i can’t help but feel nostalgic for those days when the promise of new beginnings was within reach. rested and sun-kissed, i eagerly approached the new school year with a sense of inquiry that carried me well into my studies. the collection of summer days past became mere stepping stones into what i considered the more opportune season.

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it’s interesting, that years later, i maintain a similar mindset. eager to move onward. ready for the next season. how is it, though, that the existence of now – these drawn-out days of early mornings and late nights, of sun-ripened fruit and gatherings beneath the stars – be hurried? what is the force that pulls me forward, blinds me of the magic that is summer?

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this may be the first year i acknowledge my hurried angst. it may be the first time i actually take heed of what i am missing out on when i long for what is next. the sweet bounty at our fingertips, the time i relish spent outside, in nature, healed by the sun and nurtured by its warmth – this is my reality now and as long as i celebrate it, live it, be it, then perhaps fall will enter into its own and i will be even more ready for it. this time, unhurried.

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settling in

there’s nothing more wabi-sabi than traveling. i have yet to experience a trip – however short/long – that was free from imperfections. travel delays, language barriers, forgotten items, dietary ailments, etc. a week back from peru, and i’m just now settling back into the wabi-sabi of my everyday life, truly celebrating ALL of it, even those little “imperfections” that really are minuscule in the grand scheme of things.

and that’s what i love about traveling. departing from the routine. experiencing the challenges. feeling uncomfortable. it’s only then that some kind of perspective is gained, some kind of empathy develops.

i wish i could say it was easy as that – effortlessly removing myself from everything i know to be open to whatever comes my way. but that couldn’t be further from the truth. a lot of letting go has to happen before i can grow from the experiences. there’s a host of soul-searching that takes place, a lot of digging deeper in order for my travels to have any lasting impact. but when it’s all said and done, it’s worth it. every little step in that journey abroad is absolutely worth it.

my fourth time back to peru, this trip was nothing short of highs and lows. i will spare the details for space-sake, but figure i’d write a streaming-line-of-consciousness of some specific memories that certainly colored our trip.

oh, and it’s good to be back!

  • market runs in ALL the cities
  • eating streetside anticuchos late in the evening, prepared by our favorite “tia pelos”
  • searching for rocoto (or anything picante) to douse on our choclo in cusco, the city famed for its aversion to spicy
  • a day trip to Pisac for textiles, where we happened upon a chicha house. we visited with the locals, sipping our giant glasses of the fermented corn drink, embracing a solid dose of cultural exchange *
  • stopping by a women’s weaving community on our way to Ollantaytambo. learned the process of producing textiles, from the raising/trimming of the alpaca, to the making of the natural dyes, to the handiwork that is passed on from mother to daughter
  • * spending an entire day in bed/bathroom, battling the result of wee too much chicha
  • waking at 3:30 am after said (ailment) day to catch the train to Machu Picchu. bypassed the touristy area with our permits to hike Machu Picchu mountain. with a significant elevation gain, it was unbelievable. and the descent, even better since we we waited till the end of our allotted time to take it all in without anyone around
  • taking a combi to patacancha, another weaving community in the highlands. met a woman who invited us into her home when it started to rain. there, Jesusa gave us an  in-depth look into her weaving process, teaching us the fine art of her craft
  • too late to catch a combi back into town, met another woman who only spoke Quechua whose son was a taxi driver. through the translating help of another stranded comrade, the woman was able to get in hold of her son to pick us up…hours later. to escape the blistering cold while we waited for our ride, she invited us into her home where she made us a fire. gracious hospitality like i’ve never known. 
  • returning to cusco, this time in the most charming Airbnb in my favorite part of town – san blas
  • coming across an unconscious gentleman and performing CPR on him (I will spare the details here)
  • booking a last-minute trip to Arequipa to end our journey, where we got massages at a clinic for the blind; overdosed on pizza; visited a brewery owned by a guy from Portland; lounged at the same coffeehouse four days in a row
  • last day in lima, always ceviche!

and here are a few photos…

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it was an incredibly wild ride, but alas, home.

hiatus

i’ll be taking a month-long hiatus from this space, as we leave for Peru in three days. looking forward to sharing all that’s gained from our travels!

see you in august!

home (is where the heart is)

gino and i leave for peru in less than two weeks. it’s become a welcome annual trip for us, partly for its familiarity and more so for its unpredictable adventure. in some ways, i feel like peru is an extension of our home, a place where we feel comfortable, peaceful, and always well fed.

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it goes without saying, though, that at some point in our travels, i long for our home here in LA. i miss my routine and rituals, my garden and the sense of grounding that it evokes. there is most certainly a charming appeal to the idea of being in a foreign land, discovering new sites, tasting exotic foods, letting go of the monotony of our daily lives. but eventually that hunger fades. the promise of returning to our dwelling, instead, elicits feelings of excitement and yearning.

i came across this excerpt today, which couldn’t have embodied my sentiments in a more beautiful, honest way:

“if you love home, and even if you don’t. there is nothing quite as cozy, as comfortable, as delightful, as that first week back. that week, even the things that would irritate you…seem instead reminders of your own permanence, of how life, your life, will always graciously allow you to step back inside of it, no matter how far you have gone away from it or how long you have left it.”

— hanya yanagihara from A Little Life

it’s an incredible image, really, how we can create these spaces that, when left, invite us back with a full embrace. no judgment, no ill will. just pure, unconditional love.

and for that, i am ever grateful – for the world to see and the home to return to.

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inspired by: gratitude

it’s a devastating time right now, which i won’t get into here. this is my place of refuge, so with that, a poem on gratitude:

i got out of bed 

on two strong legs.

it might have been

otherwise. i ate 

cereal, sweet

milk, ripe, flawless

peach. it might 

have been otherwise.

i took the dog uphill

to the birch wood.

all morning i did 

the work i love.

at noon i lay down

with my mate. it might

have been otherwise.

we ate dinner together

at a table with silver

candlesticks. it might

have been otherwise.

i slept in a bed

in a room with paintings

on the walls, and

planned another day

just like this day.

but one day, i know,

it will be otherwise.

— jane kenyon

 

 

 

 

daddy

daddy, i don’t know if you ever come here. perhaps with some prompting by mama? honestly, it doesn’t matter much considering you’ve got a keen sense on my life’s happenings by way of her daily updates. whether you read this or not, i just want to say thank you.

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thank you for standing by me over these thirty-something years, for being the ears when i needed them most and the clarity when i felt blurred. you have a way about yourself that attracts vulnerability, and in the midst of this troubled world, when the roles of men and women are being scrutinized, i am thankful for a father who demonstrates sensitivity and mutual respect. you are the standard to which i measure the men in my life.

i never pictured what our adult relationship would be like, probably because the years progressed ever so naturally. but i can say now, it’ a beautiful thing. you helped mold me into the woman i am today, having given me the opportunities to explore, grow, and find my voice. through your protection, you allowed me to take risks. to fall in love.

thank you, daddy, for the late-night chats and financial advice. thank you for the laughs and the tough conversations. thank you for being the other half to mama, for being the man in her life. and thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being everything i need in a father. i love you.

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gathering

tony. can i call him that if i didn’t actually know him? it’s weird, because i felt like i did. i think we all felt that way.

last week, June 8th to be exact, the world lost a legend and a friend – anthony bourdain. though the news of his suicide was tragic, it had me thinking about gathering and how anthony brought light to its virtue. he traveled the world and mingled with culinary extraordinaires, opening our eyes to exotic foods and secluded locales. and yet with equal passion, he invited us along in his journey into private homes and street side corners, teaching us how to embrace home-cooked food prepared with utmost care. it was a gift, to be able to celebrate all cuisine, no matter the preparation, regardless of the environment in which it was shared.

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as i reflect on the meals we’ve prepared, the gatherings we’ve hosted, and the community i’ve experienced over the dinner table (or coffee table/picnic blanket/plastic chair on the side of a street), i realize more and more that it’s not about the food itself. rather, it’s about the bringing together – of people, of ideas, of conversation and candidness. it’s about creating a sense of belonging. we eat for nourishment of not only the body, but more importantly, for the soul. for the spirit.

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on the day of tony’s death, a dear friend texted me this:

“just watching this CNN anthony bourdain memorial and it’s so so sad…but it made me want to tell you this – all of the things they are saying about how he brought the world so much joy by gathering people over food and having amazing conversations and bringing people together – that’s how i feel about your patio! you create the same feeling of happiness and belonging for so many people, and you should know that.”

— renae

in that moment of meditating on those words, i felt a sense of peace come over me. like tony was there, sipping some bourbon, happy to know that his legacy will be lived through us…one gathering at a time.

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