Friday, June 29, 2012

Raspberries in Geneva

On my way home this morning from dropping off my babysitting charge at her day camp, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some breakfast and lunch. Today's plan was to do nothing but write, as now I have the rest of the day to myself.

I love the fresh produce of the summer. I am trying to grow a lot in my own yard, but am somewhat limited by living in the city. I have tried to grow red raspberries in pots, but can only get a handful each year. I know there is a trick to it that I am missing, but I digress.

The red raspberries looked absolutely delightful this morning. I would prefer to buy them from a local grower, but was nowhere near a farm, nor a farmer's market. (I will have to pick some up this weekend.)

I am currently sitting outside, working on various writing projects. The temperature is expected to hit the 90s again, but right now I have shade from my tree. There is a cool breeze blowing. The neighborhood is quiet and calm.

As I pop warm raspberries into my mouth, I am transported back in time with my father. The Montessori school I attended had trips to France every other year for kids in the upper elementary grades. Technically, you were only supposed to go once. I got to go twice, because my younger sister went on one trip. My father is the adult who accompanied us.

One day, we were in Geneva, Switzerland. Everyone else went on an excursion somewhere. Dad and I decided to spend the day simply hanging out along the shores of Lake Geneva. We bought a giant bottle of Evian water, a loaf of French bread and a quart of red raspberries. I had never had them before. We had dozens of black raspberry bushes all over our property, so I was used to their super sweetness. Red raspberries definitely had a taste that was a bit more tart, yet a sweetness that rolled around in my mouth, creating a sense of happiness. I had a new taste of summer.

I eat red raspberries often. You can find them year-round in the grocery stores. I haven't had black raspberries in years, save a couple I found on a trail when hiking the other day. But now, it's primarily while eating them outside in the summer sun that I am transported back in time to that afternoon over 20 years ago, bonding with my dad while sharing a simple meal.

Photo by Pukey Cow on SXC

Sunday, June 3, 2012

GBE 2: Defining my sense of self

I found the GBE 2 prompt for last week to be quite appropriate, especially as it was due on June 2nd, which was Dad's one-year anniversary. I wanted to relate my feelings on this topic on June 2nd, but friends who surprised me for the day didn't allow me to have the time to do so.

My sense of self had always seemed strongly developed. I attended a Montessori school as a child and currently teach in the philosophy. The method naturally allows for a strong sense of self in children. I remember in high school, I missed out on a lot of that teen angst because I already knew who I was and what I wanted to do.

When my father died a year ago, I felt that sense of self shaken up. I was no longer defined as being Rick and Norma's daughter. I was now the daughter of a man who had passed away and a woman who was disappearing from Alzheimer's. My own personal tragedies from August 2010 - June 2011, too much loss for one year, weighed so heavily on my soul that I could not help but define myself by them.

As this one-year anniversary was coming closer, I started to feel impatient. I knew that my definition of self was going to change on that day. I was ready for it. I needed that one-year cycle to finally be complete so that I could truly move on. I also knew in advance it could be a difficult day, so I just wanted to get it over with. I love to be in tune with my emotions. I need to roll around them and truly feel every ounce of the pain. At the same time, I have gotten tired of the hurt.

I woke up yesterday morning, somewhat apprehensive. I had been at some friends' house the night before and we were up until 3 am talking. I woke up at 9 because I was supposed to spend the morning with my BFF. I ate and then met up with her around 11:30 to go to the Public Market. As we started walking around, I felt a sense of enlightenment. My shoulders felt less weighted down. I was breathing easier. I felt a sense of relief and happiness that I haven't in a while. I had made it. It felt almost like my birthday.

We then met up with the Man for lunch and then took a long walk along a bridge to the pier. I have a bridge phobia that seriously irritates me. The first time he and I went on this bridge, which really is nothing more than an elevated walkway through a swampy area, I was on the borderline of having a panic attack. This time, with the two of them by my side, I managed to conquer it in both directions and felt fine. (It's weird - I can never predict how I am going to react, nor will I necessarily have the same experience twice on a bridge.)

I could almost feel Dad's excitement at my latest accomplishment as I exited that gate.

I have been doggie sitting all weekend, so the Man came over for Chinese takeout and movies. A little before 10:30 pm, I opened a bottle of wine and poured a glass. Dad died at 10:30. I wanted to mark the moment with a toast in his honor. Almost immediately, I got a similar picture from my sister. It was one of those rare sisterly moments where we had the same thought at the same time.

I managed to sleep a full eight hours last night. I woke up this morning and felt kind of funny. I felt like a toddler taking her first steps all over again. My sense of self has completely changed. I will never again be exactly who I was before, but I already see more of those glimpses inside myself. My core is the same. But I no longer feel defined by my father's loss. It's time for a new chapter in life.