Now I become myself. It's taken time, many years and places...

 - May Sarton

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the desert and the ocean

Dad and his sister Ginny, Santa Monica, 1940ish

After visiting a week in Arizona with family and friends, we returned Sunday night to the wide welcoming ocean and the tiny house filled with books, music, and tea, that we call home. Yesterday was spent upacking, doing laundry, going for a much needed run in the sunny breeze and restocking the fridge with favorites from Trader Joe's. Somewhere along the way I opened Faulkner's, Light in August, and surrendered a couple of hours to it.

Our time in Arizona offered smeared pink lipstick sunsets, crowded conversations around my mother's dining room table, and slumber in the bedroom where the lavender floral wallpaper I chose at age nine still remembers me. Desert rains bestowed the purified scent of baptized greasewood and sage. My mom's daily crossword puzzle habitually kept on the kitchen table for all to contribute. A visit with siblings to my dad's grave where exclamatory palo verde trees were shouting yellow. Spiny crimson tipped ocotillos and hollow saguaros also filled in the desert landscape. We removed the faded artificial flowers someone with good intentions had left by the headstone as they seemed anathema to his deep appreciation of nature. Back at the house I studied those five giant pines swaying in the front that he planted from five gallon containers when I was a little girl roller skating in the carport. I remembered the echo of our silly knocks back and forth on the wall separating the bathrooms as we got ready to go somewhere.

This beachside neighborhood of ours was also my dad's home once. He grew up one street over in a house with his mother and sisters after he lost his own father. He and my aunt brought me here one time, almost twenty years ago. I couldn't believe they had lived so close to the ocean - a dream for a girl from the Arizona desert who fancied herself a mermaid. I like to think he'd be happy to know I'm here now. I like to think he may have had something to do with it.

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Reader Comments (9)

Dearest Jennifer~ I am so glad you are home. Thank you for sharing this post about your travels and about your past and present all swirled together. I love the thought of that lavender wall paper remembering you and it prompting you to remember you too. I think your dad would be pleased his mermaid finally made it to the ocean and his ocean none the less. XOXO

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

I can imagine him smiling down on his mermaid at his ocean.

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

I love every single thing about this piece. It's in poetry and prose and memoir and storytelling wrapped into a small taste of perfection. I once heard you say (as if to sound like we have known one another for always) that you hoped to write things to be proud of. If this doesn't do it for you honey, nothing will. I love love love this:

"exclamatory palo verde trees were shouting yellow"

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

"the tiny house filled with books, music, and tea, that we call home"

love it. Love this whole piece! I believe in serendipity too.

keep writing, keep sharing! It is so beautiful, intrinsically meaningful, and uplifting

April 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbrooke

stephanie, elizabeth, amy and brooke: thank you. :)

April 14, 2011 | Registered Commenterlovely and imperfect

oh i could just eat up your words...with a spoon...and a dollop of honeyed greek yogurt...

April 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermichelle e.

"smeared pink lipstick sunsets" .....I may have to steal this ! I am really loving sunsets right now, the light , the colors....I love your words, the images of your mother's puzzle , the crowded table , your childhood wallpaper, your mermaidness in roller skates ....of course I love it , how could I not? It is wonderful. absolutely fabulous ....longing for the ocean......

April 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMartha

michelle: mmm... honeyed greek yogurt is a favorite around here. :)

martha: the ocean is longing for you too...

April 18, 2011 | Registered Commenterlovely and imperfect

This is beautiful and your dad is proud and smiling on you I'm sure!

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle L

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