Christina Rosalie

Posts from the “Local & Global” Category

The biggest adventure: forever, then all of a sudden

Posted on April 13, 2014

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The winter stayed and stayed. Snow came, then fell again with a vengeance, white, whiter, small hills gathering curbside. Softer snow layered with frozen rain and sleet. Our own glacial record, keeping the things we lost: A single mitten, pocket change, our sense of permanence, the feeling of home. It was the coldest year on record. Biting. Sharp. I spent from November until April in Sorrel boots; wore my grey woolen beanie hat indoors; stopped smiling at strangers (not for lack of interest but because it required too much exposure of cheek and neck). The days grew longer, but the cold lasted. And along with it, a growing, restlessness, a gradual anxiety; a realization that this, here, might not be enough anymore for many reasons. Some more complicated than others. The least of them being the weather, but the most acceptable to share about here.

In retrospect the universe was probably conspiring. In the moment it felt like everything skittered right up against the edge. Things happened slowly, then all of a sudden. It felt like it feels when you almost fall on black ice, but catch yourself just before and walk away, your heart still beating hard.

Everywhere else spring arrived. I watched on Instagram. People had cherry blossoms, camellias, daffodils by the arm-full. Here, it was snow or days of spitting sleet. Temperatures in the low teens. Hunched shoulders. Worry. The feeling of having outgrown our circumference. Uneven footing. A flirtation with change. The idea of moving West. An inkling. A passing remark here. A half finished sentence there. What-ifs showing up in my morning pages; the words “spend more time on the Pacific” in my 37 before 37 list; and then we started looking in earnest. Then we flew out, fell in love with the city of roses and bridges, saw friends, ate so much good food, interviewed many places, and T landed his dream job.

Or something. Something like that. Sort of. Minus the hundred thousand anxious moments. Minus all the things beyond our control. Minus the anxiousness stitched together to make days, and the logistical conversations we had over and over again on repeat.

Now of course we forget it all. We forget the way we hunched against the cold because today there is sun, and sun, and sun. People are using leaf blowers. The neighbor’s parakeets are flirting. Cardinals are making nests. The lake is melting, and the are is warm enough finally to sit in shirt sleeves, grinning.

And We’re moving.

Bittersweet. Wildly giddy. Thrilled beyond words. Tired. Heart-achy. Delighted.

And it’s all happening now, this very minute. We leave in 2 weeks. Hello Portland.

Finally I’m moving back. The Pacific is whispering. A new bungalow on a new street. A city to fall in love with. New paths to chart. New stories to tell.

And before that, goodbyes and then a cross-country road trip. The boys. The dog. A route mapped through Chicago and Wyoming and Idaho to see some of this big country for the first time. I can’t wait and I’m not ready. I’m over the moon, and I’m sad to be leaving friends behind.


Needless to say: I have added incentive to make the studio sale happen. I’m finishing a few pieces, and scanning them all. Fingers crossed it will go live tomorrow. Maybe Tuesday. Like always, it will be a pay-what-you-can sale, but I’ll be setting a minimum this time just to offset materials and handling. I make all items available to my newsletter list first–then open up whatever’s left to anyone who happens by this little blog after 24 hours. (Fair warning, last time everything sold in less than 12 hours.)


Ok.So enough about that. Tell me everything you know about moving. Cross-country trips. Portland. Everything.
Love,
C

Falling in love: to Jamaica and back

Posted on October 13, 2013

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We leave before dawn, and watch the world grow light from above. A thin red line between the black of earth and the blue of heavens: dawn happens like this. And the moon, a waning crescent, a celestial hangnail bright and silvery against the softening sky.

By New York, the sun is a ball of the brightest red, and then the world turns gold and then finally blue with day and we lift off again to cross the continent southwards, and then across the ocean, the world from above taking my breath away.

When we land the air is thick with humidity and fragrance. Our pants stick to our legs and my hair blows into my face as we wait for our driver to show up to take us the hour drive to where we are staying in Ocho Rios.

“I’ve just had a nice Red Stripe, mon” our taxi driver says, after we’ve loaded our luggage in and are off on the highway. “They’re refresh’n, mon. Have you had one yet?” He glances back in the rearview where we’re fiddling with seat belts that have no place to buckle.

“Not yet,” we laugh.

“That’s how I start my day, mon. I smoke a splif and have a Red Stripe. That holds me through the day, ya know?”

So here we are, under the equatorial sun, driving on the left side of the road with a laid back cabbie who might be both high and buzzed. Somehow he drives as straight as everyone else is driving. Everyone swerves. They “overtake” drivers up ahead by encroaching until they’re near enough to kiss bumpers and then just sort of sidle to the right, oncoming cars be dammed. At least though, they honk a warning. In fact, they honk for everything.

After a while our driver begins telling us about the way he’s using his hand to signal if there are cops where he’s just been, or if it’s an all clear to other drivers. His hand floats out the open window into the warm, sweet air making upward and downward waving gestures. There is a code. There are lots of codes. Their patois is a code. A pidgin of English evolved by slaves to evade plantation owners. H get’s dropped from words recklessly and added to others with precipitousness. Ocean becomes “hocean” and hotel, “otel.”

The island is teaming with code, with secrets, with myths, with ways of being that emphasize things that are entirely different from whatever it is we’re hell bent on here, in northern New England (with our rational predilections and our perpetual industriousness and productivity.)

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The stories he tells are about about the owners of various huge houses who are cursed, about the delicacy of Conch “that is a man food, and too strong for the lady,” and about the ganga and where the best of it grows. What matters is “living a good life, mon, ya know?” Happiness derives from simple pleasures: fresh-picked sweetsaps, papayas, breadfruit roasted over the fire, saltfish, jerk pork, ganga, music.

At the edges, hunger shows itself. There are shacks everywhere, belonging to squatters who “capture the land” and sell fruit, or fish or conch or carwashes from roadside stands rigged out of whatever they can find. There is both an ease and a desperation here, on the North side of the island where the economy depends on the tourist hustle of cruise ships coming to port, and people like us arrive at the small wind-blown airport amongst a thousand bougainvilleas.

When we arrive at our hotel, we slip into another world entirely. A gem from the 1950s, a throwback to the jet-set life. It’s a gorgeous, sprawling blue-walled affair that was once a coconut plantation on the sea. Marylyn Monroe came here; T.S. Eliot; Ian Flemming; Winston Churchill. Our room overlooks the beach, with an open verandah that we slip over sidesaddle onto the sugar sand, and, upon returning, step into a steel bowl of water to rinse sand from our feet.
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It feels like a dream. I’ve never been on a vacation like this. Nothing close. We never took a honeymoon trip, and this, we decided would be ours. Except when the day came for our flight, which was also our anniversary, T and I were pacing cafes in NYC, waiting for referrals to go through so his insurance would cover his surgery. and feeling very much like the HMO was playing a game of roulette with his life. Trip insurance is worth it sometimes, and this time it’s why we’re here. Standing a little awe-struck on the verandah, watching gentle blue waves break beyond the palms that make gorgeous feathery silhouettes on the sand.


We spend the week relearning things. What it means to go slowly. What it means to go even slower than that. What it is like to make love whenever we want to, without children underfoot. What it feels like to watch a sunset from beginning to end, while lying on a raft in the warm ocean. What reading feels like: the slow kind, in books with paper pages and pens to mark the good lines. To dog-ear pages and sip mojitos made with the best Jamaican rum and the sweetest Jamaican sugar. And above all else, relearning what we feel like, just the two of us, together.

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It felt like falling in love for the first time: that crazy high of giddiness, that perpetual desire to be close. Yet better, with the easy laughter and easy quiet of knowing each other for 14 years. We went some places: up the Blue Mountains to see coffee farmers; into the farmers and crafts markets to hagle over prices; and into a shanty town/cafe that served the best fish, where everyone was high and hawking wears and dancing even though it was only mid afternoon. But mostly we swam and read and swam and made love and lay in hammocks and watched the stars.

It’s strange, the way the past two weeks happened, back to back: the former, one of the worst I can remember and the latter, one of the best. Returning feels headlong. Reality arrives and we’re still moving at a different velocity entirely. Let-down isn’t quite the word, but it has stunned us both nearly to tears to realize that the mundaneness of life still makes us act like idiots and assholes, even after all that bliss. We still argue over stupid things like dinner, and how to encourage/enforce Bean’s cello practice, or how to get out of the house as a family on time.

Still, the wonder from that trip is indelibly bright.

At the fair: where we all show up for something {More than one paragraph 18/30}

Posted on August 10, 2013

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The fair always captures my imagination. I could sit for hours watching, making up stories for every person: gap-toothed, lonesome, tattooed, bulging, burly, burlesque, vapid, vagrant, lustful, lascivious, wholesome, homely, heartfelt, heartbroken, dejected, addicted, desperate, depressed, wondering, giggly, giddy, grave, ghostly, strung out, sunken in, over zealous, sensuous, sexy, confident, criminal, carefree, innocent. All kinds show up to the fair. Everyone hungry for something. Welcome to Dreamland.

There are so many girls with incredibly short shorts, pockets sticking out the bottom, wearing cowboy boots and too much eye shadow, following after boys still pimply and lanky armed. The boys have nothing to offer. But you know how it goes. Small town. Bright lights. Everyone wants to be seen. Everyone arrives, hopeful for something that will elude most of them. To be whirled off their feet. To be wonder-filled. To gorge on funnel cake and corn dogs. To win a blue ribbons for milker cows and tractor pulls. To fall in love. To make out. To make a buck. To get a quick fix. To get a rush. To free fall. To fight. To escape the every day.

The carny at the Landslide dances to the pulsing beat of the ride across the midway. He’s got some not-so-terrible freestyle moves, his arms jerking about in synchronized symmetry, his eyes closed, his head his own world for now. The kids swoop down the slide towards him on their magic carpet squares screaming. One small girl slips at the bottom as she tries to stand. Hits her butt hard. Bursts into tears.

At another ride, two carnies wrangle over cigarettes, one not more than twenty, the other old enough to be my dad. So many of them are smoking, pack after pack, the only escape during the forever long days before they can turn to whisky or meth or whatever other vice it is that claims them with the night. So many of them have blackened patches on their hands and faces, cheekbones gaunt, missing teeth. Some smile and get into the whole thing, hi-fiving the kids, make a ruckus over their sound systems, “throw your hands in the air!” “Step right up, step right up, I can guarantee you a bouncy ball!” Others move like sleep walkers, numb to the repetition, to the pulsing sound, screaming kids, cotton candy, mud, lights, gluttony. One man at at the swaying entrance to the fun house stands unmoving as kids run past him. He wears shades, stares straight ahead. We circle past three times, he hasn’t moved a muscle.


For the boys, it is pure delight. They’re at just the right age for all of us to walk about unencumbered, grinning, our fingers sticky with maple syrup cotton candy and ribs. Sprout was just past the 42″ mark and Bean, long-legged and tousle-headed well past the 48″ mark. They wanted to ride everything, and Bean would have if he could. For him, no amount of spinning or speed put him off. But the sheer volume of music on some rides utterly overwhelmed him. For Sprout, who is all volume all the time, noise wasn’t the issue, or speed, but heights.

On the dragon roller coaster, they rode together. Bean was all grins, and Sprout too, until it made it’s first rushing descent. Then his face crumbled. We thought he would cry, but Bean put his arm around his brother. “It’s okay buddy” we watched him say. My heart felt like it’d just been inflated with helium. (How I love these kids of mine–and how happy I am they have each other.)The entire time they were at each other’s sides, running ahead and stand in line, pushing each other, then holding hands, sharing an ice cream cone, chasing each other through the maze of mirrors in the fun house, or standing side by side to watch the tractor pull.


We do the rides, and then we do this: walk about, looking at all the things that make county fairs great. Kids on stilts and arm wrestling contests; a barn with home made quilts and jams; roosters with fancy combs, rabbits with floppy ears, new calves, a mama pig and her piglets, horses with long eyelashes and silky manes. The ponies nuzzle our palms. Sprout watches cows get milked with a commercial milk machine for the first time. Both boys stand forever in front of the incubator, watching eggs about to hatch, asking a million questions. Sprout almost cries when the white tractor he loves doesn’t win the tractor pull. Bean drives bumper cars until his hair stands up with static.

And when leave late, two hour past their bedtime, the moon is a sickle in the inky sky, and the Ferris wheel is whirling, it’s lights bright. Bright enough to blur the edges. To leave marks on closed lids. To make the whole thing seem real enough to be a dream.

Portland, Maine in so many, many pictures

Posted on June 5, 2013

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So we went to Portland East for the weekend, and oh, what a beautiful city. I dare say I fell in love. And have heaps of pictures to prove it (sorry about the overload. I just had to share all of my favorites.)

Right before we left I broke my phone, and so for the weekend I only carried my DSLR, instead of defaulting to my iPhone and it was a welcome change. Every time I walk about with my “real” in hand I find that I bring a different level of intention to my observation.


I look for the small details that make things real: the skull and cross bones sticker on the door; the fish tails on the floor; the wedge of lemon in my drink; the silhouette of gulls as the sky turns to twilight; tattered prayer flags flying overhead; the pattern of sunlight and dappled shade; the way things decay at the edges of things.

Ephemeral alchemy + right now

Posted on April 30, 2013

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The trout lilies with their yellow faces are blooming in the woods. I love the name of these first spring woodland blooms: ephemerals. They are here for an instant, then gone as secretly as they arrived once the canopy fills in over head and the leaves begin to rustle thickly. The world is tilting towards the sun. Things are greening. The sun is staying longer in the sky. And everything is happening at once, it seems; in my life, and in the newly springtime world.

I’ve been a bit quiet here even though I’m bursting with some rather big projects. Sometimes things just need to grow in quiet first; like yeast dough rising, the alchemy of effort and attention towards these things is becoming new source of nourishment and opportunity in my life. I’ll share more soon for certain.

Right now though, I’m packing to head down to NYC to 99U ! I’m quite excited.

If you’d like, you can follow along on Twitter for a glimpse at the making ideas happen magic that will undoubtably transpire.

Our trip to New York City: an era of adventuring has begun

Posted on April 3, 2013



We went down to NYC with our boys for the first time and came back in the span of two days. Here’s what happened:


It takes us most of a day to get there, and when we finally do arrive the traffic around Canal street is so snarled we spend an hour traversing no more than eleven blocks. Still, there is no way to quash my glee or theirs. It’s the boy’s first time seeing the city, and for me it always feels like going home. My heart begins to beat to a different tempo in Harlem, and as we move down 135th street, we roll the windows down enough to let everything hit us in the face: smoked corn, roasted nuts, music thumping, exhaust, laughter, yelling.

The kids eyes wider than I’ve ever seen them, everything magic, and when we cut onto the Henry Hudson and the majestic buildings along the highway on the Upper West Side come into view, Sprout calls them castles. Later, when we’re downtown he has no more adjectives left. “Really, really tall” and “e-nor-mous!” no longer suffice.

The hotel is in TriBeCa, and by the time wecheck in all of us our starving. We connect with T’s parents and then, each of us holding the hand of a wonder-struck boy, we move up crowded Canal street through hawkers and buskers selling everything from wind-up toys to pricy knock-offs that require ducking into empty hallways and back rooms to purchase, making our way to Little Italy for food. We find a place without plastic menus, where the gnocchi Neapolitan is handmade. The boys eat two bowls.

Hunger sated we wander slowly back, stopping for torrone at a cart where the man cuts it with one swift whack of the cleaver, and then the boys eat it, somehow covering themselves, head to torso in stickiness. It’s a rookie mistake on my part, and the only time on the trip I’ll be caught without wipes.

Back at the hotel, Sprout falls asleep in a blink. Bean takes longer to unwind. We leave them with T’s mother, and stop for a glass of wine at T’s brother’s room, where their kids are awake finally, still on Japan time. We say our hellos, but after a glass, we’re itching to be off, and outside I can’t stop grinning as the night air hits my cheeks.

I know exactly where I want to be, and when we get there, there is a line until the next seating at 11, and so we find a table in a tiny café, share an affogatto, and sip glasses of white. Tired hits, but the feeling doesn’t last when the music starts.

In Smalls the walls are brick and covered with everything: evidence of literary lives, of musical greats, of love, of thwarted love, of things the way they were and things the way they are. A torn cover off a Salinger paperback. A dried rose tucked between bottles. Egg crate foam stapled to the eaves above the drum set. I sip something with grenadine and Markus Strickland carries in his horn, and people are moving, some leaving, but mostly dozens upon dozens arriving, and by some kind of perfect luck we get two stools at the bar where you can see everything: the alchemy of breath becoming song.

When they start to play I feel tears at the corners of my eyes, a grin so wide it makes my cheeks ache. Tonight, this is the way I pray, embodying song, swaying to the rhythm, complex, conversational, perpetual. There is a mirror tilted above the piano player, and also above the drummer, and their moving hands make poetry. Fingers flying, they are in some kind of hurtling conversation until the bdass slides in, whispering a solo, and everyone bows their head slightly, the notes tender, pleading, urgent, begging us to take heed of the only thing that will save us, and then the room swells up again, the sax carrying us all.

The night passes, and morning arrives, and we’re still there. I’m kissing his neck, his hand running up my back. Grinning, we leave reluctantly at 2:30, tumbling into other’s arms as we fall into bed; knowing only the fierce, uncomplicated language of desire, then sleep.

Somehow, miraculous I remember the Easter Bunny, and when they wake up, the boys find brimming baskets and tuck themselves under the desk by the floor to ceiling window and look out at the taxis already moving in fits and starts through the intersection below us, to count their chocolate eggs. T and I lie in bed, warm still, arm wrapped around each other, and when the boys climb onto our bed, Easter bucket’s titling, their fingers are sticky, and eyes wide.


Our kids are kids now, and that has changed everything about what parenting and adventuring means.

There are new horizons now, of What’s possible, and what we can imagine possible. I love the heft and sweetness of wee ones, but there is something about the way they steak a claim on you—the way you belong to them, body and soul. The way your space is never your own, nor your nights, nor any hour of the day. Having boys though, is another experience entirely, and we’re starting to explore what it means to move about, the four of us, in new places, on new adventures.

We talk about Paris. Guatemala. Portugal. We talk about taking a cross-country trip. And mostly, we talk about living in other places that aren’t at the end of this dirt road.


We spend the day the way any day might be spent: eating pastries, looking into shop windows, sipping smoothies, peaking into churches, riding the subway. We eat lunch with T’s brother and family, the cousins all squirming as we sit on the wooden floor in a Korean place, then take a zillion pictures. The air grows cold. We pick the wrong subway train. Pass the Natural History Museum. Stand forever at 125th street, then catch another train that takes us back too far in the other direction. We don’t give up. Unflagged, we finally get the local, getting off at 81st street. The museum is a zoo. So many people that after an hour we’re inundated. Tempers flare for the very first time. I need warmer clothes. T needs to eat. The kids fight over the penny flattening machine.

Finally T and I look at each other and laugh, realizing that we don’t have to stay. So we don’t. We go instead to the nearest pretzel stand and buy two big fat pretzels, salty and soft and then catch the subway back to the hotel.

We eat in our old Upper East Side neighborhood before leaving, and the rain arrives as we go. By 10pm, we’re nearing Albany and though we planned to make it all in one drive, we stop instead, admitting tiredness and tucking ourselves in at the nearest hole-in-the-wall hotel, and in the morning we head home as dawn spills like milk over the Adirondacks. It was a good trip. And when we got home T and I turned to each and said nearly simultaneously, “We are insane if we don’t do this every six months.”


Do you travel and adventure with your kids? If so, what tips and tricks have you learned?

For us, the best thing about this trip was doing very little while we were there. We mostly acted like locals. Wandered through SoHo, and took our sweet time. The Natural History Museum was something I’d put on my 36/36 list, so we had to go. But I’m glad we didn’t make any other plans. Spontaneous exploration always suits me best anyway. There’s ample time that way to take photographs and experience the delight of ordinary remarkable details.

Off for some weekend adventures in NYC!

Posted on March 30, 2013

 
 
 
 
 
 
Weekend Adventure  by Christina Rosalie

Happy Saturday, friends!

We’re off on some weekend adventures, seeing family in NYC for a very brief slice of time–just today and tomorrow in fact. And even though my friend Dan asked, “Why are you driving 6 hours just to turn around and do it again?” there’s no explaining what spring fever does to a girl living at the end of a long dirt road with wanderlust in her bones this time of year. I miss the city with it’s non-stopness and hum of creative making, and I’m so excited to share a little glimpse of it with the boys. They’ve never been.

Bean wrote the Easter Bunny the dearest note yesterday– he was worried that he wouldn’t find them at the hotel in the city. The Easter Bunny confirmed he knows his way around the city, and is fond of elevators though, so I think we’ll be fine. Bean read the note carefully and asked me to read it to confirm, and then took the Easter Bunny for his word and started packing for the trip: an eclectic assortment of things including a Go Fish game, a magnetic locking spy kit, and a set of colored pencils.

The combination of practicality and pure magic that coexists in their minds right now is what I love most about their ages. They’re transportable, easily delighted, curious, sensitive, and more or less self sufficient. They are also always up for an adventure. All week long Sprout would ask, “Is it tomorrow yet?” Meaning, is it time to leave on our adventure yet?

So we’re off. I’ll likely take heaps of pictures over on Instagram, and probably post a few of my favorites here come Monday. If there are any places in the city that we absolutely shouldn’t pass up with kids–ours, and our twin almost 4 year old nephews, do leave a note.

xo,
Christina

A glimpse of Oahu

Posted on January 16, 2013

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It’s nearly impossible not to feel homesickness for this place; for the way the ocean made everything right, tousling hair, salt-slicking shoulders, lulling us to sleep at night. It’s hard not to long for the way the trade winds blew, the way our became curly, and there was always the ocean to watch and fruit to cut, sweeter than from the mainland, with fingers to lick afterwards.