Chance Meeting…

i’ve been having a rough day yesterday; my mind was far too preoccupied for my own comfort. So, i went out to self-pacify (which i RARELY do.) the next morning, a friend of mine woke me up far too early…especially after having a glass of wine the night before (yes, I am a lightweight.)  Not to mention, when the alcohol wore off and I woke up from the wine coma at 2am, i continued to toss and turn.  the call came in a few hours after, “TEADOUGH!  can you do me a HUGE favor?!  I bought a chest from CL and he’s already here and I’m not home yet!!!  Can you go outside and let him in & help move the chest in the house?!’  

Balls.

I still had sleep in my eyes and my voice hadn’t warmed up yet; i sounded like i was just hitting puberty.  i wiped the sleep from my eyes, rolled out of my bed (literally), put shoes on and headed out the door with my unbrushed teeth (also known as ‘dragon breath’) to let the man in.

As I opened the gate, I saw an elderly man sitting in his truck parked right in front of our building & I tapped on his window.  I asked if I could help him move the chest in.  but, he said he’d rather wait until my friend got back to give her the opportunity to check it out to ensure she’s comfortable with buying.  a man with integrity.

So, i ended up waiting outside with him and we struck up conversation.  

you see, he recently lost his wife late last year.  he started to tell me the story of how they met – and not in this ‘i’m so sad’ kind of way.  to the core, he loved this woman.  he was a “reformed” bachelor and just went about his life.  he went to a party one night when he saw his future wife standing across the room.  though she caught his attention, he wasn’t interested enough to pursue as he was keeping to his new “reformed bachelor” status.  Now, I’m not going to try to re-tell the details of his story as it would never do him justice.  Just know there was a tail of she chasing him, moving in next door to him and eventually courting & getting married.

the details of the story were amazing in itself.  but it was more about the way he told the story.  you could see love radiate from him when he spoke of his wife, their life together and what she brought out of him and to him.  the only other time i had ever seen love in one’s face, in that way, was when my mom would talk about my dad.

“she was amazing.  I don’t believe in ‘soul mates;’ everyone uses that term.  but she was a damn good team mate; we made a GREAT team together – a great team in life.”

he talked about how she loved antiquing, how they traveled together and how their relationship was nowhere near perfect (no relationship is.)  “she would make these little mistakes like forgetting to do the banking or spend a little too much. but all she had to do is look at me and…that smile.  she’d always own up to any mistake.  i loved that about her.”  it was the way they lived life together.

he told me of how she fell in love with a house in the Richmond that was far too expensive for him at the time ($24k) but she just loved it.  “It was more expensive, at that time, for me.  but her eyes lit up and she just fell in love with it.  so, we bought it.”  it is the same house he lives in to this day.

i told him that he was inspiring and how i hope to find and grow into that kind of love.  he told me he was lucky.  “I see all these 30 – somethings walking around the city with their faces in their phones on their way to work and so worried about their own world that’s all they see & they end up alone.  i never wanted to get married. but [getting married] was the best decision of my life. i wanted to court her because she didn’t want any children.  we, now, have 2.  I would have to go away for work for months at a time.  she stayed home and took care of our 2 children; she never complained.  I would always tell her, ‘i miss you’ and she’d always respond with, ‘i miss you more.'”

he then proceeded to tell me how his wife was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer.  “she was so strong and never complained through the whole ordeal.  i’d take her to her chemo and she was tired and i knew she was in pain, but she never complained; not once.  towards the end, we moved her downstairs.  moving up and downstairs got too difficult for her.  we (family) took turns sleeping with her downstairs.  on her last day, i held her hand as she started to leave.  her last words to me were, ‘i miss you more’.”

i told him i was sorry for his loss and what he responded with is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.  He told me, “you know, we all lose people.  it’s a part of life and it is always difficult.  what’s more difficult is losing someone you choose.”

i hugged him as he was leaving and i told him i wanted to spend more time with him. i intend to do just that.  

it’s so hard to explain the fact that i saw love on his face. i can’t even put words to serve justice on how it felt and what i saw and I know I’m leaving out tons of details… His impact on me was love and the reminder that life throws a lot at you – some expected, most unexpected and that it’s a privilege to have someone stand by you through it all.

and get this – he goes by the name “Tea.”  Crazy.

old love

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i love, unapologetically.  so hard that i don’t have a choice but to let it course through my veins; it’s in my DNA.  it is, in fact, all or nothing.  I let it run through my system and infect every part of me, spreading with copious amounts of force.  I need to lose all control to feel i have any control at all.

i am that person, that proud person, that loves to take pictures of us and proudly display them on my sleeve and in all of my environments; my home, my heart, my thoughts, through the computer screen, across thousands of miles and across all of our lifetimes. i love the surge of electricity and the pounding of my chest when fingertips meet & fingers intertwine. i love & appreciate everything about loving another human being – especially in THIS way. tracing the dips of your hips & the curve of your thighs; arching your back with the force of my beating heart pulsing through the palm of my hand. i can only love in this way.

i want to love in the way where all the beauty, the hurt, the scared, the scarred, the broken & bleeding are encompassed in what we call “being human” brings me to tears as i stand and stare..because it’s all beautiful; i am swallowed, alive.

Lost Cause

…only because I’m currently listening to Beck…

Anyhow, sometimes I get bombarded with these “personal epiphanies.”  What I normally do with them is store them in the back of my mind’s filing cabinet like an overdue bill.  for whatever reason, that habit is changing in this particular instance and for this particular circumstance.  I kind of realized today that I’ve been “coasting.”  I’ve been doing ok with the “status quo” and my daily…weekly routine.  

Now, my life isn’t bad; not at all, actually.  I have a good career, I live in one of America’s best cities, I’m surrounded by pretty amazing people, I have a roof over my head and food to eat.  but, sometimes, you don’t realize what more you can do for yourself & for others because you’re used to these routines that aren’t necessarily bad.

this weekend, i spent the long weekend with my partner.  we did not-so-crazy-extravagant-but-ever-so-priceless things like…well, we went to an outlet mall.  partner-love treated herself to some new (and hot) threads while i grabbed us some gadgets that allotted us the luxury of listening to good music at home through these wonderful devices.  Matter of fact, I was listening to Beck and now enjoying the Vaccines as I type.  Music is a big part of our lives.  It’s also a HUGE reason why we met & connected.  Anyhow, we’ve both been deprived of music in the house.  This feels damn good to have it accessible and in great quality and quantities; the way music & love should always be consumed.

I forgot how much music has an effect on me.  Since moving to SF, i haven’t had the opportunity to set up much of a sound system (other than my TV or laptop) due to lack of outlets.  (there are only so many surge protectors one can utilize without making one’s place look like a mad scientist’s lab).  Listening to music via laptop speakers leaves much to be desired.  so, this portable little gadget was certainly the right choice and good investment.

I also got my long-overdue-sasquatch-looking eyebrows threaded today.  this is something I used to do religiously every other week.  it’s nice to look like a normal human being with expressions again.

Lovely partner and I also made our way to Teavana. be forewarned: you will spend a lot of money on things that taste really good, are really pretty and are good for you.  

So, here I am listening to wonderful ear candy while having a cup of citrus lavender sage tea as I try to jot down this cluster fuck of thoughts.

The whole point of this post?  I realized more and more that I’ve been selling myself short.  I had stopped taking these extra little self-care steps and just trekked along and “getting by.”  I don’t mean fiscally, (although, San Francisco, you are VERY expensive and challenge my bank account constantly.) but rather, somewhere along the way, i seemed to have gotten a bit lost.  I had forgotten that taking care of oneself projects a lot more light & brightness into the world – your own and other’s.

it doesn’t take material things for self-care (though my aforementioned statements may make it seem as such.) but these are just staples in my life that ground me…these simple pleasures.

The next step is to de-clutter my surroundings; get rid of clothes I don’t wear, put away / sell / donate gadgets I no longer use, and stop settling for what isn’t advantageous just because it’s comfortable.

I’m kind of disappointed that I’ve “settled” a bit.  but, it’s never too late to do something new & different for the sake of inner peace.  (how hippy did THAT sound?)

PS: listening to Nick Drake’s “one of these things first.” you’ll thank me later. 

Herstory.

i had a pretty busy weekend this past weekend. i took the day off friday to spend with my mom…actually, to really bond with her. my mom is a very conservative old-fashioned vietnamese woman that does not speak much of her life. this was the single opportunity i had to learn about her experiences and all she went through to get here, to learn about her history. my mother was an immigrant from vietnam. she escaped the communists regime on April 30, 1975. last friday was a commemorative ceremony for the 3,000 refugees that escaped on the US naval ship; the USS Midway. my mother, step-dad and i drove to san diego for the ceremony on this same ship. my mom whispered to me as i parked the car, “that’s what it looks like. i was always on the ship then dropped off. i’ve never seen the outside of the ship that helped save my life.”

i learned a lot about my mother that day. while others escaped on the ship with family members and friends, my mother traveled alone with only an extra pair of clothes (which someone ended up stealing from her as she slept) and no money. she left her family behind and followed the flowing crowd running towards this ship taking them to an unknown destination. my mom got on this ship alone. she didn’t know where the ship was headed. all she knew was she was safe. during those 18 days aboard ship, eating mostly rice and salt, she met my father. they instantly became a team. their destination: Guam. they were truly starting a new life, only this time together. both of my parents left the only place they knew as “home”, left their families and journeyed to a foreign place; unfamiliar with…anything. they worked for meager wages in Guam. making a combined $5 an hour, they saved and saved for 6 months to make a life for themselves and to create one for me in CA.

my mom told me something that friday that i will never forget. she said, “when people look at me, they see that i might have a tough life now. i don’t make as much as other people but i work very hard. this is not hard. then, that was hard. so now, when i see people that are less fortunate, i always do what i can to help them.”

i love my mom.

to this day, this woman works so hard & doesn’t make much, yet still pays it forward.

on the drive over to san diego, my conservative catholic vietnamese mother said something else that about floored me. we were discussing prop 8 and human rights, and she got really pissed. she was angry that some people, including her own daughter, were not seen as equal deserving human beings. she turned to me and said, “baby, i don’t care. if somebody loves you, is nice to you & cares for you, i love them back.”

after coming out to her at the age of 17, lecturing me that she doesn’t want me to go to hell and never speaking about the subject for the next 13 years – i honestly never thought i’d hear something like this from her.

i came out of this experience with a more sense of dignity and self. my mother did not work so hard and sacrifice so much for anyone to walk all over her daughter and for me to settle for less. she didn’t struggle to travel all this way for me to half-ass my life.

my mom has truly shown me i am capable of, and can do, anything.

i am my mother’s daughter. i can do anything and i will not settle for less.