Come Live This Wild Life With Me

You can’t tame wild things. Who wants to be tamed, anyway? Certainly not me. When I was in high school, I camped with friends, amongst the sequoias and redwoods. They towered over our primitive campsite. I woke up on the first full morning there and looked out toward the Pacific. If you stood just right, the waves, perpetually crashing against the shore, were a distant song, floating through that canyon where we were nestled into our campsite. There in the abandoned woods of the central coast of California, like so many other times in my life, I knew I wasn’t made for normal. The fog had settled in overnight, in an almost disorienting way. It was deeply and wildly comforting. The cold, in spite of it being summer – chilled me to the bone. And I was perfectly content in that wild place. That summer, we camped all over northern Cal. I swam in the “Delta” and wandered around San Francisco and Santa Cruz. We camped on a golden hill – oak trees and wildflowers around us. Those chilly nights by the fire, our feet dirty in our flip flops, as the embers swirled above us – settled deep into my soul.

I grew up on the beach – sand in my toes and wild hair blowing every which way. Between the beach and the pool, I was incredibly tan all summer – so dark you wouldn’t believe. My hair was almost blonde from the sun. The dirt or sand in my toes version of life, my hair wild with sun and salt, and the adventures of a life filled with creativity encouraged and unleashed – was a beautiful way to grow up. I lived for camping near my Grandparents. And then our parents would leave us (my brother & cousin would be left by my Aunt & Dad) after our camping trip and we would stay with Grandma in that trailer on the beach – napping with open windows, the sea breeze blowing and swirling through their tiny home away from home. My Grandma was precious, wild, and terribly inappropriate. I got most of my wild from her. She was an artist. And in spite of the fact that their home during part of the year was a trailer, owned by the state of California (Grandpa was a caretaker at a state beach), it was decorated like a mansion – with her paintings of oceans and flowers and the pretty things that inspired her – on the walls. Her bed was covered in the prettiest lace and she could hunt out the loveliest of trinkets, hidden to everyone but her artistic eye, for her art-filled home. In the morning, we’d hike down between the craggy, sun-bleached cliffs, to the beach. We’d walk for miles, laughing and telling wild stories. She’d pick up seaweed and tell us magical things about the sea. Except I’ll never know if half of what she told us was true – all I remember is she told wild stories. She found seaweed – mustard yellow and squishy – beautiful. She’d talk about it as if it were a treasure from the sea. She taught me, my entire childhood, to take care of and cultivate the wild girl that lived deep in my heart.

I have been caged for a while now. I’m a wild thing, longing to be free again. There are unrestrained words to be written (words others won’t like), mountains to climb, beaches to camp on, and wild love to cultivate. There are places to live from – not physical places – that the average person never reaches and doesn’t even desire. We (me & you – the man I’ve waited for, for so long) are not those kinds of people. I’ve found that version of myself again. The real me that’s been hiding – held back by the fears and clouded by a drive to be accepted. I don’t need that and never have, I just got lost for a bit. What I need, what I’ve always needed – is the kind of deep living that sucks life from the most colorful, juiciest, soulful places. It’s the kind of life that gets you dirty. You know how when you eat the most delicious piece of watermelon, on a hot summer day, and the juice drips down your hand and arm and you don’t care for one single second? That. The sweetest days are the ones that get you real dirty – sticky with sweet and dripping honey. I live for this version of life.

I know it when I see it. I was made for it. I saw it in you. I see it in you, at your best and your worst.

I’ve written so many words to you – my wild thing. I’ve never written so much. The words flow constantly. I can’t turn them off. When I tried to bury them from bubbling up and over, they dried up. And then, in the way that wild things do, they seeped up, from so many holes in my heart. I couldn’t stop them. They rocked my foundation – in spite of my attempt to live a quieter, more acceptable life. I’ve learned my lesson. I don’t want a quiet life that makes sense. I don’t want to write quiet words that feel safe. I want to write words that are drenched in the sticky sweet wild, that remind us of the way that’s not for everyone.

And now here I am standing on the edge of this cliff yet again, more uncertain than I was on a humid summer night, when I wrote these words – visions of what I was made for, in my mind.

I love you and all of your wild things. Come home to me & live this wild life. I’ve been seeing visions of it, for all my years. I know it when I see it. None of it has to make a damn bit of sense. Grace, His grace – it’s wild enough to sustain us on this rocky path. It can be a path that doesn’t make sense. I don’t need to make sense. I don’t understand most of life. No one ever said we needed to. Come live this wild life with me. We’ll figure it out along the way – even when it’s hard.


Home, Elaina M Avalos, Poetry

The day I met you, your skepticism was a challenge.
I knew instantly that I had work to do, to win you over.
I adore the skeptic in you. Even when it drives me crazy.
For all the days that have passed since, I have fought back
Against the feeling that I’m home, when I’m in your presence.
This seems, on the surface, impossible & wildly crazy. For months now,
I have lived with the fear close to my heart, that you will break mine.
Tonight, as the rain falls, I miss you. But more than that, I
Have hope, for once, that even if you’re not my home,
This hope of home, that I wasn’t sure was possible – is.
– Elaina M. Avalos

Inspiration & Imagination: Kudzu, Lightening Bugs, and Farm Stands

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It’s summer in the south. I know. Not news, right? Growing up in Southern California, you’d think a hot, humid, and rainy summer would not be one of my favorite things. But it so is.


The summers of my childhood were filled with beach trips, camping along the 5 freeway at San Onofre or with my grandparents in San Clemente. Summers in SoCal are beach days on the right side (extremely important) of the Huntington Beach pier, professional surfers & volleyball players, surfers changing into or out of their wet suits on the side of the road. SoCal summers are KROQ and the Santa Ana winds, wildfires, and the cool marine layer that rolls in off the ocean that makes you pull out a sweatshirt, as the temperature dips.

Summer in Southern California is exactly what it should be and precisely what you’d expect.

elaina avalos, chasing hope, chasing dreams,

And yet, I didn’t know what I was missing until I moved to the coast of North Carolina. The humidity may be soul-sucking gross at times, but there’s something very . . . healing in the scorch of the sun and the wet air.

A few years ago, I house sat for a couple I’ve known since 2001. This is the second time I’ve made their home, my home, for a few months. After a year lease ended – they were getting ready to take a long trip. The timing was perfect. They live on my favorite river.

Abby the Wonder Dog & I would sit for hours on the back deck – even on the hottest, most humid evenings, watching the river. When I really needed to soak in sun and heat, we’d sit on the stairway at the top of their berm.

elaina avalos, neuse river, chasing hope, chasing dreams,


My trusty buddy right beside me – soaking it all in, too.

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There’s something so cleansing about the humidity as it seeps in. Don’t believe me? Try it some evening. Sit quietly, as it settles in around you. Somehow, I feel the day drain off and clarity seep in.

As the summer wears on, the green grows even deeper than it was in spring – as if this was even possible. Nature somehow defies what is already the glorious beauty of green to be even better – deeper – as the kudzu spreads through the jungle of trees.

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The spanish moss, set against the green is breathtaking. The tobacco, corn, and soy bean fields are constant reminders – as I drive between home and the store, or home and work – of how different life is now – from the concrete jungle of my youth.

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Growing up, I dreamed of seeing lightening bugs (aka fireflies for the rest of the country) but didn’t see a single one until I was an adult. How is that possible? How is it possible for you to live a full life without the pop of white light, that brightens the humid evenings? You can’t, I tell you.

Farmer’s markets are more popular today than ever. And though new farmer’s markets have popped up here in recent years, the farm stand is tried & true. They’re a joy and a favorite weekend stop. I have my favorites. I’d go every day if I could.

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My favorite purchase every year – for the brief time I can get them – is green tomatoes. I learned to make fried green tomatoes about four years ago – in a kitchen overlooking the Neuse. It’s probably one of my all time favorite dishes (just behind homemade enchiladas and tamales).

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The truth is, June and July are the best kind of summer. The days are long and there is so much to soak in. By August, I’m ready for the routine of autumn to settle in. The beauty of the long days wears at you a little.

You begin to long for open windows and cool days. If you’re anything like me, you start wishing it was football season before July has fully let go of you. Growing up with a perpetual summer, I don’t know if you fully appreciate the true beauty of the seasons as they change.

Though August erodes my patience as it grows hotter, I’m convinced I’d never appreciate fall in the way I do, without the scorcher of August. Isn’t that just like life, though? As I think about the beauty of summer as it barrels toward fall, I am certain that each season has a beauty of its own.

It may not be roasted peanuts from a farm stand in Cedar Point, beauty – but it’s beauty just the same. I’m grateful for both seasons of my life – SoCal’s palm tree, surfer, Huntington Beach beauty – and the perfect beauty of a tobacco field against the deep blue Carolina sky.