I walked home tonight with no jacket. Considering two days ago I was sprinting from my grandfather's house to the car to Walmart to the car to the house due to 16 degree weather and below 0 windchill, walking home tonight was a shock. I was wearing a light sweater and a t-shirt and was fine. And just in case I needed further reminding that I was in California, someone across the street called out to a friend, "Dude, it's still totally awesome out."
Well, I'm in Iowa again. It's my grandfather's 85th birthday today, or was until about an hour ago. As usual I'm glad I came, though not quite sure why. It's a strange sensation.
I don't really enjoy Iowa, and certainly not up here in the northern part which doesn't really have any sense of home to me. My grandfather and step-grandmother moved here to Mason City a few years ago after building a house. They used to live in Cedar Rapids which still seems like where I should be when I visit, or at Clear Lake where they spend their summers.
Now they're up here in an area that doesn't seem to have much to offer beyond large discount stores like Walmart and Kmart and Target. Not that there's anything wrong with those stores, oh no, don't get me wrong. I love Walmart in a very peculiar way and am always excited to go there. But I come here to visit my grandfather and there tends to be a lot of sitting around.
We come in late Saturday, spend the day Sunday going to lunch and dinner and in between sitting around doing crossword puzzles or watching football/baseball/basketball/(or this year)the Olympics. Then we get up Monday, do a little more sitting around, go to lunch, then leave. Usually there's a visit to Walmart/Target/Kmart in there somewhere.
But I find there are no deeply insightful conversations about life or reminiscences about my grandfather's childhood, or any of those things you're supposed to have with the older generation. What was it like for him in WWII? What are some stories about being a travelling salesman? What was my grandmother like (a subject pretty much never brought up due to possible 2nd wife issues)?
These are all things I wonder about vaguely, wishing I might know him better. But they don't come up. My grandfather's not a big talker. If I asked him all these things I'm not sure he would find them very welcome. I suppose I should ask anyway. But that's not what happens.
We sit around and it's more like a relationship you have with a friend you see every day. We talk about day to day things, the weather, sports, things we see on TV, local events like new discount stores opening up. I often sort of wonder why it's nice for him to have us come.
But then we leave. And I see in his face and his eyes and feel in his hugs how happy he was that we came. How much he enjoyed seeing us. How much he loves us in his quiet way. Last time I visited, in October, it was after that final hug that I said to my parents that I needed to come visit more often. It was something in the feeling of that hug, and his voice when he said he didn't see me very often. I realized I have an 85 year old grandfather. And he loves me. And I love him. And here I am in Iowa again.
Tomorrow we leave and I will once again file away the feeling of that hug and know that the next time an opportunity arises, I'll be back here, in Iowa, in discount stores, and in the den watching baseball.
Happy Valentine's Day to those who are interested in having a happy one. And power to the single people!
I missed salsa today for the second week ina row. Last week was because of a wedding. This week I just couldn't make myself go. I couldn't get a hold of my sister, who's supposed to be going with me so I didn't have a ride. It would have taken me at least an hour on public transportation. And it's more fun to go with someone. So I justified it by saying I'm broke right now and can't really afford it, which is true, and I needed to clean my apartment because I have people coming over next week, also true.
So I was working on my apartment, feeling guilty for skipping salsa, wishing when it was about 20 minutes before the start of class that I had gone, when it was too late. I was putting together these shelves I'd gotten at Ikea for $5. They were $5 because they were just a portion of an entertainment center and also had no hardware or instructions. Did that stop me from buying them? Come on, they were Ikea and $5. How could I resist?
So I ran out of screws (I'd bought some for the purpose but had miscounted.). I decided to wander out to the hardware store a couple of blocks up the street. I just threw on some clothes, grabbed my backpack in case I decided to pick up some groceries too, and went. No palm pilot, cell phone, lipstick, watch...I barely bothered to brush my hair. I thought I'd only be gone for a few minutes.
When I stepped outside, I discovered it was a gorgeous day. Sun was shining, sky was clear, and it had to be 65 degrees at least. I went to the hardware store and got my screws.
While walking back, I thought to myself--I shouldn't waste a gorgeous day. Even though I'm something of a vampire and the sun doesn't appeal to me that much, it managed to call to me today. I took off my flannel jacket and tied it around my waist and walked to the beach.
I'm only a few blocks from the beach and I look at the ocean several times a day. But I don't go down there that often. It seems odd to me that I don't, but it's dark when I leave the house in the morning and dark when I get home. On the weekends I'm running around.
So I wandered down the beach, wind in my hair, sun on my face, sand in my toes. It felt good. I walked, looking at tons of broken sand dollars in the sand. The sun was shining so brightly over the ocean, heading toward sunset.
There were surfers everywhere. The waves looked big and good to me, though what do I know. Multiple hours of being forced to watch surfing movies aside. I kept looking for Chris Isaak, as I always do. One of these days I'll see his cute little sloped nose.
It was a little odd to be walking down the beach, no jacket for the first time in months, no lipstick, jeans rolled up, old tennis shoes on. I felt like the granola girl I used to be.
As I walked down the beach, comfortable, happy, breathing the ocean, listening to the waves, I didn't really regret missing salsa.
The one thing I did have with me was my camera, which I'd stuck in my pocket at the last minute on my way out the door. You never know when you'll want to take a pic.
One of my coworkers got married today. It always seems like such an enormous leap of faith when people do that sort of thing. I was talking to someone at the wedding and she said you could just tell that they were right together. You could tell that they would last. I'm continually surprised at how jaded I've become. It's hard for me to believe that people can really stay married. But they really did look happy and loving. I wish them a long married life.