The Most Beautiful Places I’ve Ever Been… Part One

I just woke from a nap, a sweaty one. This new house of mine doesn’t have air conditioning. It’s not quite unbearable yet — I keep my room dark and turn on a fan. The problem this afternoon was that I had ONE glass of champagne while at a baby shower in the valley. Champagne and baby showers, good idea, right? Right. I understand now why people talk bad about the “valley” all the time. HOT. It’s hot there. Well, I’m kind of an idiot when it comes to eating/drinking what I’m not supposed to. I’ve never been able to drink champagne without an instant, unbearable headache. Does that keep me from doing so? Not at all. So when I got home my head was beating with pain and my room was warm and I fell asleep and woke confused and drenched. But right before I really, fully woke, I had a flood of memories and the urge to write them here. Like an old fashion slide show, all these images shot through my mind of places I’ve been and loved. So, this is my first shot at listing the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, in no particular order.

1. Lake Tahoe. I lived here as a child. My father was born and raised on the South shore of the lake. Tahoe is innocence for me. Fourth of July, on the beach, Ray Charles, and Fireworks that look as though they may fall from the sky and land on your skin. You must go sometime. It’s so worth the effort. I don’t have a photo of my own for Tahoe on the 4th – but here’s one I took of Tahoe in December. This photo was recently published in the Honeyland Review (honeylandreview.com)

2. London. I absolutely loved London. I’ve been twice, and not for very long, but it stuck straight to my heart. Everything, every street, every building, every park, felt whimsical and romantic. Perhaps it was the fogginess, and the splashes of colors – doors and phone booths. Or the way each building could have been a castle. And the churches. I so love an old, gigantic church — ancient graves, stained glass, and cobblestone. I went to a service at Westminster Abbey and received communion right after I finished my four months in Sierra Leone. My chair sat directly on a missionary’s grave. Oh darn, what was his name — David Livingstone? Yes, that was it. Scottish missionary/explorer/abolitionist who worked in Africa. Although I think he spread British imperialism or something…but didn’t they all? Unfortunate.
I took this picture while on a walk. I have no idea where I was, but the photo sums up how I remember London.

3. Japan. In college I spent one month living in Japan and fell madly in love with Japanese culture. The quiet ceremonies, the kimonos, the intricate food, the children in matching school uniforms, the paper lanterns, the tea, the ancient architecture, the simple, uncluttered houses, the cherry blossoms in bloom. I wish I would have lived there for a year or so when I was younger and had the college loans to do so. Japan made me long for something — and I can’t name it — I don’t know how to say what it was, but I’ve longed for Japan ever since. I don’t have any of my photos on the computer — so you’ll have to use your imaginations, my darlings, until I find one for you. In the meantime, this:

I have my very own neon butterflies.

4. Juneau, Alaska. My friend, Jeremiah is an Alaskan native and the only friend I have that’s from Alaska. Years ago I got to visit Jer, and his wife, Jen (one of my closest and dearest friends) while they were on hiatus in Juneau. It was an insane treat. Alaska is pure. Downtown Juneau is like a photograph from a Swiss Mountain town. Jen and I, on a stupidly adventurous day, decided to hike out over an ice lake to get close to a glacier. It was one of those moments where you can’t help but feel undeniably small and frail — like staring at the open sky or an endless Ocean. The glacier, up close, was a color I’d never seen before, and standing before it I could hear every sound. Ever crack, every movement, every moan from the ice. It was terrifying and electric and filled me with a wildness. After a moment of frozen terror, Jen and I realized our stupidity and made a mad dash for land. I have the greatest memory of the two of us, stiff from layers of clothing, running awkwardly through the snow to escape death. (And that guy, remember that guy, Jen, that came by us on skis?) Here, a picture from that day (also featured in The Honeyland Review).

For another time, perhaps, because my eyes are growing tired: Sarajevo, Notre Dame at night, A roof in Tucson during the Monsoons, A Peruvian Church, a barely there beach house on the water outside of Freetown, the Cliff House in SF and Fireworks over the Golden Gate.

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