Tag Archives: home

Plans, and an absence of.

I was standing in the warm garage, talking to the mechanic.

“We know where to find you,” she said, smiling. I can’t remember what we’d said before that, but I know that I replied, “Always in the same place.”

I’d meant the mountain, but it occurred to me how odd it was for that to be true.

Five-year plans. I’ve never, in my life, had a five-year plan. Even when I was a junior in high school, when everyone who wants to go to college has a five-year plan, I didn’t. For me, it was more like, I’m going to design school. Maybe. Or maybe I’ll become a doctor. Eh. We’ll see…

Do people actually make those things—five-year plans? I suppose they do. I went to J-School with a really ambitious guy who wasn’t content with a five-year plan. He had a “15-year plan.” It may or may not be worth noting that it began to disintegrate even before we’d graduated. I can say that without feeling bad because he’s doing really well now.

But yeah, I thought he was mad, and for exactly that reason: Plans are arbitrary. I believe that there are reasons why things happen, but I do not believe that the plans we lay, should we choose to do so, have much, if anything, to do with it. “The best-laid plans…”

I prefer a vague plan full of qualifications and the freedom of ambiguity:

  • I’d like to do that. Some time.
  • I’ll probably be [insert whatever here] six months from now/two weeks from now/Saturday…

Flight map.A year ago, I was heartbroken, not by a person, but by a country. I was about to leave a place that I loved. Love. Will always love. People who I love. My “plan,” if you will, included two months of intense, intercontinental travel, a couple of surf comps, and many, many youth hostels. And then, big, glaring—if kind of glamorous—blank space.

What would I do between France in October and Sydney in December? Well, I’d figure it out, I reasoned. But last July, it was a mystery, and one that became less and less sexy with time.

A few weeks in Bali put me off living there for any real length of time. Vietnam was still a quasi option. A girl who I met in Malaysia invited me to Nepal. I could do Nepal. This is how these things happen, you know. You meet a girl in Malaysia who invites you to Nepal. But I couldn’t afford the flight. Truthfully, I couldn’t afford anything. Change of plans.

I returned to the States disheartened, with designs of getting my proverbial shit together. (I’m still working on it.)

I only intended to stay here through a single ski season, but I sensed pretty quickly that Maine numbed my nomad tendencies. Eight months in, I’m surprised to find myself calling this place home. More than that, I’m surprised that it feels like home. I am surprised every day when I don’t want to leave. Then again, I’m astonished every day by the beauty of this place. And that of its people. I feel the occasional searing pang for the inconstant, but it only takes a minute of clarity to see that it’s all around, regardless of venue.

So, I think I’ll use that airline credit for an actual vacation—or two—instead of a one-way ticket. And then come home.

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A Tale of Two Climbs.

The thing about tequila is… just kidding.  Unlike this story, today’s tale of misadventure has nothing to do with tequila. It has to do with lots and lots of vodka and one damning, ill-conceived shot of some horrendous cinnamon liqueur. (It was free.) And also, some unfortunate weather.

I woke up on Saturday morning and asked myself, “Where am I?” And then I looked down at my watch, which read 10:30, and asked, “Is that a.m. or p.m.?” Friday night was a doozy. I think…

Here’s the back story: Red Bull’s Frozen Rush, a truck race that took place on ski slopes, has been the center of our universe for a while. It didn’t just go off without a hitch on Friday. It was a great success. So, we celebrated.

Saturday morning didn’t go quite as smoothly. As laid on the floor, gingerly sipping ginger beer and forcing down some DiGiorno, I heard from various sources how terrible the roads were. Sheets of ice = general consensus. It was 12:45 before I deigned to attempt a homeward journey. I successfully (if slowly) navigated 90% of the trip, which was great, because I didn’t have my license on me. But then, I got less than halfway up my mountain-climbing road before my car, Ethel, would go no further. The road hadn’t been sanded at all and the car just couldn’t gain any traction. I bumped the first of many snow banks and somehow turned my car halfway around before it began sliding, sideways, down the hill. I’m not sure if it was the powerful over hang or extraordinary mental fortitude, but I remained calm. I was able to get the car facing the right direction, which gave me false hope. From that point on, I had absolutely zero control over the vehicle. I slid into a snow bank, crawled out of the rut, slid straight into another one, five feet down the road. Rinse and repeat.

As much as it pained me, I decided I had to leave Ethel. The question at this point was whether to hike up to my house or down to someone else’s and call for a ride. Down was a lot shorter. But my phone was dead, so I’d have to knock on a stranger danger’s door and request to use his or her phone, reeking of poor decisions. I opted for the climb.  Continue reading

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Sap Sap Sappy Thanksgiving 2oThirteen.

This Thanksgiving Eve finds me sitting at an Ikea kitchen table that I shared with an ex, once upon a time. It’s now in my bedroom. In my parents’ house. There’s only one chair. (The other one was lost in a flood.) It’s also from Ikea. This visual gets more depressing with every passing detail. There’s even a candle. Unlit. And an opened box of Entenmann’s “donuts.” And a feline reposing in my lap. Just kidding… about those last two things, anyway.

The floor behind me is, literally, covered with books and laundry and 10 pairs of shoes and five pieces of luggage and 37 pieces of cameras and a statue of Ganesha.

So, at 28, this probably isn’t exactly where most people would want to be. But I am thankful to be here.

This has been one crazy year (so far). I didn’t realise until my mum brought it to my attention, but I set foot on five continents in eight months. That’s, like, the definition of a crazy year. But also the definition of a remarkable year.

Continue reading

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Stuck in a Corner With You: An Ode to the Claw.

The best kind of cornered. With Dot, Freddy, and B Bins.

The best kind of cornered. With Dot, Freddy, and B Bins.

The Crab’s Claw Inn. An institution. -al establishment. I’ve been familiar with the Claw for years, but I only began to properly cherish it this past summer, while working next door at Shaded Vision. (An institution.)

On Friday, the Claw re-opened its door to the public for the first time since Superslut -storm Sandy. When I arrived at 10 p.m., the place was packed with jubilant patrons, doling out hugs and high fives by the hundreds, downing Winter Ales and Yuenglings, and, mostly, smiling. So much smiling.

Houses have been flattened, gutted, renovated, rebuilt. The Heights opened its streets to… everyone. Park residents were allowed to go home. Cheese balls were served. But this? This felt like a real milestone. It felt like the mail man and the boutique owner and the bar owner and your mom’s friend and the pro surfer and the restorer were able, maybe, to feel almost normal again. Maybe. They saw each other with drinks in their hands again, in a place to which they all pledged allegiance, a long time ago, without ever saying a word.

You see, the Claw is like our Central Perk. It’s where we go after work and spend our hard-earned dollars on deliciously unpretentious fare prepared and delivered by people with heart. Where plans are made and friends are met. Where we replenish ourselves after hours in the sea. And remind ourselves that we’ll be in the sea in just hours. We go to eat dinner. Or to skip dinner. We sing and dance, talk story, talk shit, aggrandize waves and fish and babes. Everybody probably doesn’t know your name, but I’d bet that everybody knows your face. It’s where we go when we don’t want to go home, or when we can’t go home. It is a sort of home.

I know how this sounds. It’s not that we’re a bunch of alcoholic bar flies. Because the Claw isn’t really just a bar. It’s an institution. And it’s back.

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Dear Gold Coast Family

Please forgive the forthcoming sappiness.

I always seem to meet the most incredible people when I travel. And I always seem to be traveling, so fortunately, I’m always meeting incredible people. People who walk me to cafes instead of merely explaining how to get there; people who lend me wetsuits and surfboards and warm coats; people who welcome me into their homes, who make their homes my homes, whose friends open their homes; people who actually consider whether their homemade meals clash with my morals; people who share their Coronas, their whiskey, their Milo, their wine; people who pick me up at the airport, who drop me off at new breaks, who reveal hidden waterfalls; people who give me birthday cards and Christmas cake; people who show me things I’d miss on my own. People, in short, who make me feel like I’m not on my own. Who make this big world feel small.

Not so many places that I’ve been have felt like “home.” There have been a few: I instantly felt like I belonged in Paris. New York has always been “the City.” My city. I never seemed to make a wrong turn in Glasgow. And I still think I’m a Californian who just happened to be born in Jersey. I didn’t fall in love with the Goldy the first time I came here. I felt comfortable, but that’s different than feeling right. And that’s still different than feeling at home.

I don’t believe home is a place. I believe it’s a person. Sometimes, it’s people. As a constant wanderer (and hopeless romantic), I conveniently pin “home” to movable being[s] . I have found family on the Gold Coast, and it’s for that reason that it feels like home.

My family in the States will probably tell you that I have no trouble–at all–leaving people behind. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fought back tears while boarding a bus. That’s a lie; I can tell you that it’s happened twice in recent memory. Ask Yudi about the bus ride we shared. I’m terrified of walking away. I hate leaving people I love nearly as much as I love leaving. Nearly. So, I choose to believe that we’ll run into each other at Versailles, at The Pass, at the QT Hotel. It wouldn’t be the first time. Because it is a small world, after all. And, of course, you’re welcome to come with me. If not, until next time, at least we have Facebook. But seriously, thank you. For everything. And see you soon…

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