April 18th – tomorrow, is my brother, Matt Avalos’s 1st heavenly birthday. My mom & are going out to dinner to celebrate his birthday. I miss him and his popping up in texts or messenger with random messages or smart aleck remarks about my Panthers. 🤣 They weren’t always smart aleck remarks though. Sometimes we had fun chatting about football – though I know nothing compared to what he knew.
Anyway, I miss him. This is not something you prepare yourself for – your younger brother passing away – certainly not at 44 years old. Here are a few things that were special about my brother:
He kind of reminded me of my Grandpa Avalos in his way of making friends and meeting people everywhere he went. Grandpa knew people literally everywhere we went. Matt seemed to have that knack for meeting people. I didn’t get that gene. Haha.
I know people probably don’t know this, but it wasn’t unusual for Matt to stop and bring food or clothing to homeless people. When I helped my dad pack up Matt’s clothes last June, he said he wanted them to go to a homeless shelter or charity that supports one, because that’s what Matt would’ve wanted.
Once, when he was a teen, he stopped a bunch of idiot kids who were picking on another kid. I think the kid being bullied had Down Syndrome. It’s an incident I remember, but it was not the first or last time he did something like that.
He seemed like a tough guy. But he was sensitive, caring, tenderhearted, & super sentimental.
He adored his grandparents – Light grandparents & Avalos grandparents. He often told me he loved me and that he was proud of me. That means the world to me now. I will miss him always – but I know he’s forever at peace and knowing the most joy he’s ever known.
“Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.” – George Washington Carver
I worked Friday evening and Saturday so I’m enjoying a Monday at home. I woke slowly and walked before doing anything – including having a cup of coffee. The weather is beautiful and coastal Carolina is green and lovely again. The woods always have a way of grounding me.
I grew up in Southern California – which is basically desert. By late spring and definitely summer, the world turned brown. Winter and early spring are the green seasons in SoCal – as the infrequent rains are more frequent in the winter. I love that most of the year here is green and lush. I live next to a river. But it’s also next to a highway and a bridge over that river. In the winter, I see the constant movement on the highway, as headlights can be seen through the woods. When I returned from California recently, the trees were full of leaves. I hardly see any headlights from the highway now. By summer, the less I will see the highway that borders the river and lies beyond the woods. The kudzu, that dies back in the winter, will once again cover the trees with even more green. The growth will increase so much in the next few months, that the river can only be seen from my second story.
Although I love the salt air and the constancy of the ocean. There’s something restorative about the woods. I’m looking forward to spending time amongst the redwood forests, soon.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms…”
It is untamed. Wild and unplanned. I wake deep in thought, recalling the mornings in the Redwoods – the air cold and damp. There was nothing around but the untouched forest. Standing there, facing the west, I saw the Pacific resting between the hills – the brush wild and untamed. So perfectly beautiful and lonely.
This is what it’s like to love you. On a day I least expected you, there you were. We are perfect partners. We think alike. But not. In that place in between, where we differ, you shine most.
There are more questions than answers. In the beauty of this wild thing, I long for you. What is and will not be follows me around like a coastal fog. Through the haze I see you. I don’t hold it against you – you can’t tame wild things.
I live here in this tension, with what will not be, settling into the cold, wild – alone.
I wrote the above about a man – a specific man. I wrote it a time I was in a vulnerable place – literally and figuratively. But I also wrote it about nothing at all. Haha. As a writer, there are times in our lives we are inspired to write something because of someone or as a result of an experience. What comes from that inspiration and imagination may look nothing like our lives. What also resulted from writing this blurb was a novel. I have a love/hate relationship with A Thousand Years (said novel). It has been a hard one to write, mostly because the book I actually wanted to write, may not be received well. So I struggle with all other versions of it. That’s not a good place for a writer to be.
But in just a short time, I’ll be in the very place where much of the novel is set. When I was in high school, I went on one very long camping trip all over Northern California, including the coast. The fog up there is like this living and breathing thing and when you throw that together with the redwoods and the salt air, it’s a recipe for inspiration. This is the kind of inspiration that has lasted a lifetime. It has been so many years since my last trip along the coast (I think I was in college the last time). Next week, I’ll be in the very places that my protagonist, Birdie – has called home for most of her life. I can’t wait. And while this trip home is going to be hard, I look forward to the inspiration that comes from such a lovely place – during those few days away.
While I don’t know what will happen with A Thousand Years, I know for sure it will be better if I go on this trip. More importantly, it and everything else I’m meant to write, will be better if I write what’s on my heart.
“Maybe there’s something you’re afraid to say, or someone you’re afraid to love, or somewhere you’re afraid to go. It’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna hurt because it matters.” – John Green
I’ve had a bit of a rough week. There’s some uncertainty hanging around that’s absolutely driving me nuts and with an impending trip to California for my dad’s funeral, it was just a lot. I also had an event at work today. Though it was small as events go – they’re always lots of work and a lot of moving pieces. But what was jarring about this week was that in between doing everything else for work, I was doing things like…writing an obituary for my dad and looking at houses online for a potential move. Toward the end of the week, I was straight up not having a good time. 🙂 I wished for things that I just couldn’t make happen, no matter how much I wished or how hard I prayed. One of those things I wanted, was to make my feelings cooperate, as I grapple with very mixed emotions and really crazy circumstances right now. Our feelings are complex. So are various events, circumstances, and relationships (or relationships we wish to be in), in our lives. I’ve found myself all over the map with my emotions.
It’s possible for things to be more than one way. It’s possible to feel hopeful about a future with someone you care about, and also extremely fearful about getting hurt. It’s possible to look forward to a trip, but know it will be painful. It’s possible to be hopeful about a change, but worried somehow it won’t work out. Lately, I’ve gotten it in my head that life is one way or another. So dumb. I’m not really a black and white person. So how is it that I found myself thinking I should feel one specific way about any of the things going on?
The beauty in life can often be found in these very different and opposing sides of our emotions. Life is not simple. There are so very many shades and colors. Like the John Green quote (and is the case in my favorite novel of his), things we love can also mean greater hurt. I am incredibly excited about four days and three nights in one of my favorite places on earth. I’m also extremely sad to be going to California because my dad passed away. That’s hard stuff.
Falling for someone you care about, feels good. It feels hopeful. It’s also scary as hell. I can feel anxious that it was never what I hoped it would be. I can feel excited and happy and content at other moments. Sometimes in the same day. These feelings are not mutually exclusive. They can exist all at once (as weird as that sounds).
As I head into my final few days at work before going to California, I’m reminding myself that all of the wildness of this time means I can feel many things at once. Taking care of myself and ensuring I’m present and able to experience all life has to offer, means that I also have to accept all of the complexities of life and our emotions.
I think we can have a tendency to want to insulate ourselves from hurt or hard things. It’s a normal reaction. If you find yourself there, I wanted to share this – as it was quite comforting, though I wouldn’t have thought so.