A few months ago, my folks bought an Airstream trailer. It's a thirty-foot, silver sleek dream. If you pressed your ear to its cool aluminum walls, you would hear the call of the road. "Adventure awaits...the open road...new vistas...take me!" I have been so anxious to try it out, so when my parents mentioned last week they were taking the Airstream to the beach at San Clemente state park, I groaned, "Oh I wish I could go too!" So my dad asked, why not? We could take the girls and all go. And we did. Right now I am driving in the passenger seat in the truck hauling the Airstream going home, and we are all tired, sandy and a little sunburned. And happy, so happy.
The drive to California was a nightmare - Eloise had not two but three spasms. She stopped breathing, turned purple and went limp and all that. We even had to use the ambubag to resuscitate her while I was trying to pull over. I was in tears by the first evening, sure I had made a mistake taking her when she is still so fragile. What was I thinking? Eloise can't go anywhere!
The next morning however, she was right as rain and pink and chirping, and I didn't want to go home. Onward to the ocean! I'll never forget Hazel when she saw the endless blue sea for the first time in her life, her eyes were almost as wide and almost as blue! "That ocean never ends Hazel, it wraps around the entire earth!"
That evening after we settled the Airstream in the dusty state campsite, we nearly sprinted to the beach. If I had to choose two words to describe the girls' experience: Fierce joy. They embraced playing at the seaside with a childlike gusto that left me sitting there with a big goofy smile on my face. It really didn't matter that the water was cold because the sun was shining. Eloise loved the sand, and to my horror loved to chew on the washed up seaweed. We all played for hours.
The next morning I went on a run on the beach by myself. There wasn't another soul in sight, not a boat on the water, and not a cloud in the sky. It was exactly what I needed.
I reflected on where I was at the same day and time last year. In the Utah Valley NICU, waiting for an esophagus to grow, hoping the surgeon would stop and talk about plans. I was trying to love on my baby and help her through her life in the hospital. Running on the beach, I was so grateful to no longer be where we were. I never thought I would physically feel this great ever again. I was so grateful to have my baby home, listening to the waves crash on the shore. I was so grateful for healing.
Mexican marketplace + a little but of inner New York City + thousands and thousands of bolts of fabric of every shade, weight and texture = The LA Fashion District. It's full of characters, from fresh Algerian emigrants, Hollywood costume designers, fashionistas, hip hop artists, and we even saw a teeny tiny eight-month-old blue, purple and pink poodle named Nugget. The girls thought it was THE COOLEST dog they had EVER seen. I only had an hour and a half to explore miles of fabric, but I knew what I was looking for, so I was a lady on a mission. Sewing clothes is an extremely relaxing, zen practice for me, it slows me down because I use my mind and body to create something lovely. Utah has but one place to find quality clothing fabric, so the LA Fashion District is like Candyland!
I ended up with a gorgeous, mid-weight aqua sateen, a double-knit print with large roses on it, and a coral colored jersey knit. I had Eloise and the twins with me, and again I was surprised by how much they enjoyed it. Josephine was running around finding all the shimmery blue or Indian fabric, and Millie kept shouting at intervals: "A passion for fashion!!!" She was pretty hysterical.
My dad and I brought Eloise to The Getty Center. I really wanted to see an exhibit they had highlighting illuminated manuscripts from their permanent collection. I wasn't disappointed, the manuscripts were extraordinary. What was even more extraordinary was Eloise. She loved all of it! She was so happy, chirping at all the docents and looking at all the art. I don't know if she was picking up on happy-mama vibes or if she genuinely enjoyed the museum, but she certainly was happy. It was deeply restorative to be in a world-class art museum again. Some of my favorite pieces from this trip:
After some more time at the beach playing in the water, collecting seashells, building sandcastles, and going on long walks, we are headed home. Lessons learned:
I have undergone many changes in my heart and mind in the last two years. But there are bedrock aspects that never change:
I still love the ocean entirely.
My spirit of adventure hasn't been completely smushed, in fact it is alive and well despite the crushing responsibilities I live with.
Eloise loves art museums.
Traveling in a trailer is THE BEST way to go with little children. So, easy, and so fun.
You have to create opportunities to have perfect moments, and you can't miss them. Like watching Josephine sing and dance in the water, like no one was watching. If you tenaciously hold onto old hurts, heartaches and anxiety and refuse to let go and appreciate those magical moments, you will miss them.
Eloise lives with a lot of medical problems. She is a complicated case, even unique. I have to work hard to keep it from consuming all of me. But the effort is worth it.
My favorite lines from the trip came from Millie. She asked me why we have to leave the beach, and I told her "Well honey, we don't actually live here." Her response? "We would if we just didn't leave!" Wouldn't you miss daddy? She said she would, but "we could see him after work, and then come back!"
I hope we do go back, because now the Airstream whispers, "Freedom even with Eloise!"