What can one say about life? It has ups followed by downs and downs followed by ups in a perpetual cycle of growth. Sometimes the downs of life may leave one feeling restricted, starved through oppressive privation. Other times life has a way to lift the individual to a liberation that can only be defined as cloud walking. Experiencing the state of cloud walking creates positive thoughts rather easily; however, maintaining positive, encouraging optimism during the difficult situations can prove challenging. Life doesn’t exclude anyone, including team juice box, from its natural cycle.
It’s a mild, spring like day. The sun permeates the skin providing a warmth of joyous excitement while the wind rustles imaginations creative sense. It is a splendid start to a stupendous day. Our main objectives: acquire an oil change at a reasonable price, replace a headlight bulb on the van, and travel 40 miles to the location of our next job. Not to taxing or demanding.
Monique, the tech guru, searches the vast resources of the web to procure a reasonably priced oil change. This task doesn’t take her long at all. Within the span of around, give or take a minute or two, 5 minutes she has a complete oil and filter change appointment booked that will cost the diminutive bank account twenty dollars. No complaints from me or the bank account on this one. It’s a two and a half mile drive to the location. We make this drive following a delicious breakfast of buckwheat with cinnamon and apples, coffee, and a stroll through the dog park to allow Lyla her own personal play time. She gets to make new friends this way and exercise in a manner that neither I or Monique can provide.
We arrive to the auto appointment fifteen minutes prior to our 12:30 scheduled time, drop off the keys, and are informed there are eight vehicles in front of us. it will be a couple hours before they can get to our van. Neither of us inquired the reasoning for the delay nor were we put off by it. Instead, we decided to walk the three and a half miles to Costco for some frozen yogurt. This is a treat I have never been a part of, but have heard of on numerous occasions through Monique. It is also something she has been wishing to share with me for some time. As a foodie, I am delighted for this opportunity. The walk goes uneventful and after only an hour and a fifteen minutes the phone rings with the auto shop on the other end. They have completed the job and we can pick up our vehicle at our convenience.
At this point in our walk we are roughly five minutes from arriving at Costco and have four hours before the auto shop closes. I notice as well that Lyla isn’t doing her best at listening. She’s a very intelligent K9 and, at times, chooses when to listen. She has a very strong alpha personality. As we approach Costco, navigating the maze of traffic and orange cones outlining the directional path of vehicles, I take Lyla from Monique and she ventures in to procure the ice cream. While waiting Lyla is anxious and obviously overstimulated. Not being a Cesar Milan I have no idea the best course of action to help calm her. I chose to do the only thing I could find constructive, remove her from the crowd and relocate to a quiet spot not so close to the high volume pedestrian area. It’s a good call as she then lays beside me soaking the suns kiss through her dark fur. It doesn’t take long before Monique returns.
As she exits I notice that one of the large cups she is carrying looks rather odd. Apparently the yogurt machine decided to go helter skelter during the transition process to the cup. One looked rather normal. It was a swirl consisting of more chocolate than vanilla and the other looked like a vanilla slush. At first glance I thought, I can’t eat all this. We each taste them both. The slush one is way off on flavor and consistency so we decide to return it. No use in ingesting something one finds rather unsatisfactory to the taste buds. As Monique goes back in to return one I take a couple more spoonfuls of the one left behind. I notice immediately my thought has morphed from I can’t eat all this to there is a chance I may eat all of this. Monique returns and in her hand is a cup of yogurt with a healthy appearance. It seems the machines tantrum was short lived. We both now start to enjoy our treat. After several more bites my thoughts again morphed. Now I thought there is no way this is lasting, and after finishing mine I look at Monique’s and think, I wonder if she would share.
With our yogurt now residing in our digestive system we depart and start the trek back to the van. As we circumnavigate the orange obstacles that are the Costco parking lot we are diverted right beside a Trader Joe’s. For those unfamiliar, Trader Joe’s is a grocery chain known for quality foods. Immediately Monique decides to swing in and pick up some coconut milk. I had made a delicious smoked salmon chowder the previous night and I am confident she is wanting more. While Monique is inside I take lyla to a grassy partition; here she may frolic for a moment. I sit on the cool grass and feel it’s gentle touch caress my fingers, the subtle dampness of it promoting a slight chill. I combat the chill by holding the sunlight in my hand and allowing it to slowly fall between the cracks. As I sit meditatively observing my immediate surroundings I feel a tranquil peace emanating from Lyla as she eats a few blades of grass. I glance to my right and take in the vivid green hillside blanketed in a yellow wildflower waterfall. Could this be the beginning of spring? It sure does feel like it. After twenty minutes I realize that Monique is either lost or shopping. Both very plausible avenues, but one more likely than the other. Intuition spoke to me with a warm hearted whisper and I knew all was well. I would soon have another snack. I am blessed to have such a love in my life. My gratitude and joy at this moment present in a liquid form on the side of my cheek and I feel the magic that is altruism. Within five minutes of this joyous occasion Monique returns carrying a triple bagged paper sack of edibles. Upon inspection, i.e., Monique showing me all the things she bought, I find four cans of coconut milk, six hard salames in three different varieties, six boxes of smoked oysters, three varieties of goat cheese, and a bag of avocados. The avocados and coconut milk are definitely enjoyed by Monique, she will have a few oysters as well, but the rest she specifically got for me. She is always trying to fatten me up, which isn’t a bad thing. I must confess I could use a few pounds.
My metabolism is stuck on rapid fire and never seems to shut off. Some may consider this a blessing, but I find it challenging as I am always hungry. If I miss a couple meals, e.g., one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday, I actually lose weight. To have someone who can see, understand, accept, and help with this curse is a universal gift. The gluten free diet, medically induced, doesn’t promote weight gain. A blessing is having a partner who understands the dietary and health needs of the other. With the new found snacks, weighing about 20 pounds, securely within my hands we start to head back to the auto shop; discussing the supplies we need from home depot for work purposes and how we are going to tackle the blown headlight on the van.
We decide to change the light. We are both confident this little project can be overcome quickly so we pick up a bulb from the local auto parts store along the way. When we approach the auto repair shop we notice our vehicle is not how we left it. To our surprise the windows are all down and the doors are unlocked. I’m a little concerned, as well as Monique, because a majority of our personal belongings are tucked inside. I decided to do a quick inventory check while Monique went to inquire the reasoning of our concern. Once I assure everything is accounted for and Monique returns we are ready to leave. It turns out this is something, leaving the windows down and the car unlocked, GY does this when GY has to move a car frequently; I have yet to determine what GY define “frequently” as. Nonetheless we make our exit and move on to purchase our supplies from the hardware store and ingest some YouTube to figure out the changing of the headlight. According to NKY DIY, the YouTube channel we watched, it’s pretty simple and straightforward; however, we will need to purchase some tools (a 10mm socket and a ratchet). We purchase the supplies and head out to the parking lot to perform our vehicular operation. I grab my head torch, light it to bright, and get to work. It takes a short time to dismantle, remove the bad bulb, replace it, and return the components to their original position. We feel accomplished! A warm congratulation to us. Now it’s time to head back home for the night.
The sun is down and the cool air carries a slight chill on its breath. I can’t help but notice a growing energy within Monique. It’s the subtle beast of tension and stress. I know this feeling myself and the havoc it calls friend. I can ignore it, but that will solve nothing and one can only carry hardship so long before it bursts forth into the world. I know as well that I can address it and face the onslaught immediately. Either way, I love her enough to reach for solutions of conflict resolution. Truth be told I have been feeling this “building” for a couple days. I determine I will address it immediately; I’m not fearful of conflict and I will use the opportunity to hold and maintain my composure during an emotional conflict. I know I have said it before, but there is might in one’s thoughts and there, within, resides a tremendous strength. Knowing we still have a 40 mile drive to our next work location I decide to broach the subject softly.
This is accomplished through subtle questioning that can’t be construed. With each proceeding question the depth of the subject increases until the avenue of expression is the only outlet. Once this occured I held onto the bull with two hands. Eight seconds, eight seconds, eight seconds; that’s all it takes, eight seconds. Truly, in hindsight, it wasn’t so bad; however, she was visibly upset for the remainder of the evening, night, and into the morning. Don’t fret, I listened with all my love, accepting her words with an open embrace and using them to better understand her personal requirements. It may have taken all evening, night, and morning for her complete expression to present itself, but it did come out in entirety.
Like all of us, when single or in a relationship, we need our personal space, i.e., me time. All to often when we fail to acknowledge this we start to feel constricted, oppressed even. It is this feeling that, when roused, permeates our thoughts and creates our reality of discord. Monique was experiencing this first hand. I, with all the benevolent energy I could generate, provided her space and freedom to do as she wished. I love her deeply and do not wish her to feel that she must be with me all the time. My primary objective is for her happiness. It matters not if it is with me or not. I know she loves me true and will be fine when she gets her “me” time. Something I am overly willing to accommodate.
I wish I could say this was the only obstacle we had to deal with, but it wasn’t. Our painting gig cancelled that morning as well. I believe this had a hand in creating some emotional turmoil from Monique as it was just another stressor. There was nothing we could do but drive back to our home location and start networking for work. I am pretty optimistic so I wasn’t overly concerned. This is how work comes at times. It’ll be here for a month straight, dry up for a week, back for two weeks, and dry for a month. It is all part of economic mathematics.
When we arrive back at our home location, I believe I will share it with you as I see no reason to keep it hidden, of San Francisco. I unload some supplies from the van and place them into the wagon. I will be staying in here for a while. It’s not a bad place. Sure, I may look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame in the back, but I am dry, have a place to sleep, a place to cook, and a place to store my things. Sounds like a win to me. With belongings now transfered I decide I need to head over to Starbucks, not for their atrocious coffee, but for the super delux speed Wifi. I find it rewarding to work on this blog while having a spell check feature available.
As I’m sitting in the coffee house my phone gives a message beep. I know that beep. It’s the only contact in my phone that has a personalized greeting. I hesitate with uncertainty for the briefest of moments then my heart prevents avoidance. I glance at the text and note all the turmoil must have past. Monique is sharing an experience she just obtained. She was at the dog park when Lyla growled at another dog who was approaching the van. I, being the novice dog expert I am, thought the behavior was unacceptable, but after being around her and other dogs I have learned it’s normal. She was just saying, “Hey, this is my house and no you can’t come in, unless you’re nice”. Anyway, the lady evidently went on a vicious verbal attack accusing Monique of bringing a dangerous dog to the park. This is the same park Lyla visits daily so I’m not to concerned. I’m more relieved that Monique is in a better place emotionally and psychologically.
After she has finished describing her encounter she asks if I would like to go to the park and try to find another player for Catan. Catan, for those of you who do not know, is a board game of delightful splendor. I accept and she picks me up a little while later from the coffee shop. She greets me with the warmest of embraces, the softest of kisses, and a smile that would melt an angels heart. She offers up an apology for her actions as I accept and acknowledge her maturity. Periodically throughout the day she will, again and again, apologize. It’s no less than obvious she feels remorse.
We had intended to go to a local dog park called Fort Funston, but after arriving in the parking lot of infinite automobiles we decided to pursue an alternative route. We will backtrack half a mile and go to Lake Merced Park. I have offered to cook dinner while we wait for a taker to our Catan game. This will allow Monique personal time; she has expressed a desire to play her banjo. In reality I am the winner. I get a free folk/irish banjo concert as I prepare dinner. Who wouldn’t love that? Someone who hates banjo music of course.
We pull into Lake Merced and find a parking spot near an open picnic table. Monique puts Lyla on her lead, it’s 20’, to allow her some open romp room and grabs her banjo. Meanwhile I relocated the cooking equipment and supplies to the open picnic table and get to the prep work. We will be having salmon chowder again, but with a different coconut milk. As I start to prepare the vegetables a small, amiable dog approaches accompanied by an older gentleman. I only say older because he had some grey that would indicate wisdom through experience. As the little dog approaches I let the gentleman know that Lyla is all bark and only wants to sniff the new arrival. From his first words, muttered in an Irish accent, I felt as if I had met a lifelong friend from lifetimes previous. I can’t explain the intuitive cognition that presents, but I can feel it in every fiber of my porous being. Unfortunately I never inquired if I could use his credentials for this blog; therefore, I shall call him magic man. A name most appropriate.
As I prepare dinner the conversation drifts between me, Monique, Magic Man, and his neighbor, Rapunzel. Magic man has brought Rapunzel to the park to help her do a bit of recycling. My tongue may be both bold and loose, but the world needs more of this. As we converse the topic shifts between our pets, families, travels, lifestyle, and professions as an ever changing story. I continue cooking the majority of the time, listening to Monique play the banjo and Magic Man share tales of his home. He even offers up a local hiking spot he thinks we would appreciate. As dinner approaches the finish line I see Lyla, out of my horrible peripheral vision, start to run towards a little dog being walked about sixy feet away.
In my mind I quickly realize she’s running the length of her lead at open throttle. That’s a forty foot swath of land she’s now blurring across and I’m not sure her clip lock collar is going to suffice. WIthin seconds the snap of plastic reverberates the air and Lyla is on the little dog, sniffing away and wanting to play. Lyla isn’t a dangerous or vicious dog, but she does have an insatiable desire to play. This can, at times, prove slightly problematic. Case in hand. Monique, quick as a flash, coaxed our K9 companion back into her arms and is trying to engineer a quick solution for the broken collar. Our immediate solution was duct tape. Yup, that’s correct, the universal fix it all tape. Unfortunately this fix was a premature success. As we pondered on another avenue Magic Man came to the rescue. He had gone to his truck, fetched a piece of rope material, and hand wove a makeshift collar that Lyla can’t escape nor can she chew threw. How lucky are we? Extremely, because shortly after he says he has some rooms he would need painted and would be delighted if we would follow him home and check it out. Monique and I both accept with eager anticipation.
It’s not everyday that someone walks into your life and has, from the beginning, an energy that inspires spiritual evolution. To be invited into his personal residence and life is a reward that finds no measure of value. As we leave the park, following Magic Man, who also pulls off and waits for us when traffic is heavy or we get to far behind, I discuss my feelings of the situation with Monique. She is in agreement, Magic Man is one of a kind. The short fifteen minute car ride takes us to a very nice suburban neighborhood where we feel safe and welcomed. Within a few turns, and even fewer minutes, we are in front of where Mr. Magic resides. He invites us in with a warm smile and open door.
As we breach the entryway, a small sitting room comprised of two chairs, a loveseat, a small table, bookshelf, and a couple shelves, I notice the pictures. How could I miss them honestly. They are a mixture of family and friends. Each sharing from within smiles and a special uniqueness captured only in the moment. I also notice that behind the end tables there is a Tibetan singing bowl. It’s tucked away in the corner, resting. I fantasize, briefly, about hearing its heart song and then return my focus to my surroundings.
In front of us is a dining room and table that looks to accompany eight individuals with comfort. It almost winks a welcoming smile. We take a few steps forward, closing the entryway door behind us, and turning right we enter a dimly lit family room. It’s illumination coming from a movie being played on the television. Magic Man introduces us to his wife, Magic Women, and we exchange the customary pleasantries of civil conversation. With the hello out of the way we make our way upstairs to inspect the rooms he is wishing to paint. As he opens the door I can’t help but notice the beautiful plastered walls.
Why is he wanting to paint over this masterpiece? The plastered walls have a swirling beauty of color and texture that move with the precision of fibonacci numbers. For a moment I tune out as I get lost in the walls. They’re unlike anything I have ever seen. When I regain my comprehension Monique and Magic Man are discussing the painting of a hallway. This entire house is a medley defining expressive artistry. I confess, I had difficulty paying attention during the potential client, rough job estimate. Once the rooms and hallway being discussed for remodel are over Mr. M. (I shall call him M from here on out) continued giving us a tour of his home.
As he opens the door to each room of his children, some sharing the same room, the innermost expression of the individual is revealed. There is an overall theme shared and expressed by all, yet there are differences in each. I can see the poetic prose of a musicians fingers and the delicate vision of a painters flower. The overwhelming recurring theme is love and transparent expression. I don’t know what I have done or why I am so fortunate to receive splendors such as this, but I am forever thankful the opportunity is presently pursued. As shut the door on our final room we return downstairs. Mr. M shows us the kitchen, a small room off the dining room and takes us into the garage.
The moment I step into the garage I am awestruck by what is going on. The walls are covered in individual expressions ranging from quotes, poetry, and paintings. There is a djembe drum, an electric guitar, and an acoustic guitar. The table in the center of the garage is covered with scraps of paper containing a mixture of pictures and words. There are paints ready to be opened and brushes standing at attention. Mr. M. politely explains the purpose of the garage and then takes us to the back patio. The first thing I notice is the large tented structure. I am told Mrs. M. bought it for the children. She truly loved them and I truly appreciated the story that accompanied. With the tour now secured under our belts we head back to the sitting room, the one directly to the left of the entryway into the home, for tea and sparkling conversation.
Monique and I both takes seats, express our gratitude, and welcome the delicious cup of tea. Monique will end up having around three cups; I actually thought of them more as miniature soup bowls myself. During this tea time parties would enter, periodically, the home and introductions would be given. We had soon met each of the children and even a few of their friends. As we continue talking Mr. M. shares some fables of his homeland, stories of his travels, and inspirations he found in life. I shall always remember the story of the Banshee, the music of his native land, and the duet he shared with Monique. Yes, Monique sang, in foreign tongue, a beautiful jewel that Mr. M. started. I’m not sure who was more surprised at her jumping in, me or him. Either way, when the conclusion of the song arrived he and I both gave a round of applause. We continued in this fashion for a time; being introduced to instruments as we went. Remember the Tibetan Singing Bowl? Yup, you guessed it. Mr. M. also brought out a Banjo which is an instrument Monique has an intimate familiarity with.
As Monique picked away at the Banjo Mr. M and I continued to converse. Each never forgetting the appreciation of the moment. As we discussed ticky tacky issues and ideas of personal philosophy a couple things transpired. One was a baking project being undertaken by his daughter; we shall call her Turquoise. The other was a jam session being performed by his son, we shall call him Topaz, and Monique.
It turns out that Turquoise has a friend, Alexandrite, who is gluten free (GF). She is actually suffering from Celiac, the same abhorrent abomination I am afflicted with. I inquire Alexandrite if Turquoise is GF as well and she defined the answer as no. I noted the obvious, in question form; she’s making these cookies specifically for you then, correct? Questions are a polite way to gain understanding. Alexandrite smiles and proceeds to explain to me that this is no ordinary home. It’s unlike any other around. She calls it a “chill” place and returns to her attention to the rectangular device in her hand. As our conversation was closed Monique walked by with her banjo in hand, whispered “I’m going to play in the garage, come listen when you’re finished. I would like it if you did”, kissed me on the cheek, and then vanished into the garage.
I find myself doing the internal smile and being thankful Monique found others to jam with. I now return to the sitting room with Mr. M. and we continue conversing, getting to know each other through archaic fashion. I appreciated this individual time and found that talking with Mr. M. was enjoyable. This is how we continue the evening until I ask Mr. M if he would like to listen to the Jam session. I know Monique will be happy I stopped in to check it out too. BONUS: I will get to sit in on some live music, maybe dance my dance a little, and feel the energy of cohesion.
As we enter the inspiration playground, i.e., garage, Monique and Topaz finish their fingers on fire technique and welcome us both. Mr. M. and I both take seats and enjoy the music. Topaz, wanting everyone to feel included, brought me a djembe drum and encouraged me. It’s the same, natural encouragement his father has been giving me all evening. *I’m slow to display my musical inadequacies; although, Mr. M. insists my insecurities are all in my head. I must agree with him too. Society… Sometimes it’s the worst. As I tap on the drum with the soft melody of the energy rhythm the atmosphere begins to change. Mr. M. starts to sing in a deep bass that exudes enormous strength, Monique is finger picking her banjo strings to exhaustion, Topaz is creating an EKG Chart with riffs and chords as he captures the electrical impulse, and I am softly tapping the drum in what could be defined as incomprehensible fashion. For a minute the room was swimming in the perpetual energy of cosmic union. I cannot convey, through any form of dialect or transcription, what I felt coursing through my being. I can say we continued to enjoy the company of each for the remainder of the evening.
It’s now 10:30 pm., Sunday evening, as we leave the residence of Mr. M.! Monique and I decide to walk Lyla for a bit and enjoy the joy we both feel. In under forty-eight hours we have experienced a low that shook the very fiber of our existence and a high that showed us we already know how to cloud walk. How beautiful life truly is. Even when a circumstance is shrouded in dismal, you can be sure a rainbow will appear. The weather will pass and the sun, again, will shine it’s rays upon your brow. Tonight I fall asleep thinking, “I’m grateful they live”.
“I’m grateful they lived” ~Magic Man~