Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, DEATH/LOSS, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, PHOTOGRAPHY

07/09/19

My grandfather and I have played a game for so long, I don’t even remember the origins of it. I would try – and always fail – to catch his pinky finger without him pulling it away from me. I absolutely NEVER could – the man was stronger than an ox, I could take my two little hands to his one pinky finger and still not catch it.

Even when he got older, weaker, sicker, he still had a phenomenal old man strength that allowed him to allude capture. It made me furious! He told me that I could catch it when he finally died, and I said that I would cut it off and bronze it as my trophy, and we would laugh uproariously, because my family is morbid and terrible.

It is obvious where this post is going and what I’m trying to say, and I initially felt really sad, and I thought it would just be hard and miserable to write it out – but that wasn’t really us. So here I am, victor at last, with my grandfather’s pinky finger finally all mine. He left us this afternoon, and it feels unfathomable and surreal.

My Grand, silly ole Grandy Bar – you put up a really, really good fight, prolific and skilled, and it was an honor to lose to you for these 32 years. I wish I could lose to you for 32 more. I will carry this victory with pride, and while I have the hand strength of a newborn and cannot carry on the physical pinky game, I promise to carry on your stubbornness with an absolutely earth shattering frustration to those around me, just like I know you’d want me to. I’m gonna make you proud, Grand. Thanks for everything, and I mean it – for everything. PS – “bullllshitttttt.”

Posted in DEATH/LOSS, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

GRANDBULB

When I was very little, I told my Grand that he was “bald as a lightbulb”. In return, he gifted me … a lightbulb. With his likeness drawn on it. I have kept that lightbulb for over 25 years, and today, the wonderful Wren at Reckless Heart Tattoos in Greenville was kind enough to tattoo that lightbulb (now and forever known as #Grandbulb) on me. I told him I was getting it before I went, and asked him if he liked the idea. A routine hater of my tattoos, I was surprised when he immediately blinked once to tell me yes. After I got it, I came back to show him and asked him if he liked it. He looked at it for a long time, looked back at me, and immediately shook his head no … but his eyes were bright. A “hater” till the end, my Grandbulb. 💡

Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, DEATH/LOSS, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, MENTAL HEALTH, relationships, writing

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

I wrote this last year, in the days that led up to the first anniversary of your death. It has remained in its embryonic stage, in a tangle of nonsensical pieces and parts, until today. I wasn’t ready then, but I’m ready now.

To F. – (as Pete Yorn would say, “cos it already is”).

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Posted in ASHLEY IN WONDERLAND, FUNERAL SERVICE, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, MENTAL HEALTH, relationships, writing

HAPPY NEW YEAR

We are so close to the end of the year, and that always seems hard to believe, doesn’t it? I mean, the Counting Crows even wrote the annually relevant jam, “A Long December” about what this confused, sort of gray feeling of wistfulness and closing is like. (Note to self: find time to listen to “A Long December” before January rolls around). But just like the song says – “There’s reason to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last.” – and I get that. I think we all do.

With a new beginning (which we all logically know is really just watching the ball drop on TV from Times Square and taping up a new desk calendar at work when we get back from holiday break) comes what we all need so desperately to keep us moving forward – the smallest glimmer of hope. Because hell, maybe this year really will be better than the last. Maybe it takes moving forward to realize that the year we are leaving behind wasn’t really so bad after all – or, in some cases, maybe it truly was an awful one, and we need to prepare ourselves to move on so that we can get some space to start to heal. No matter where you are at in your personal journey, by the time the last dregs of December are clouding the bottom of the glass, I think we can all agree that we are ready to ring in the New Year, if only just to see what might happen next.

Time is so incredibly sentimental and bittersweet. We hold on to it so dearly, using it to mark our good and our bad and our in betweens. I think that’s why I’ve always upheld a particular romanticism in regards to fresh starts and new beginnings. While it sometimes feels scary to enter uncharted territory, even if it is purely symbolic – it also feels so exciting. And that’s because of possibility. Because possibility exists, and because we, even at our darkest hours, exude hope for a better tomorrow – somewhere out there in the ether, the two mix together and become chance. “You never know” – one of the most powerful phrases in the history of language.

With the examination of time come and gone comes the natural reflection of what we have experienced in the duration. I think this reflection is wise, because I believe that we all have the responsibility to try to become a better version of ourselves every year. And reflection is how we do that – how we look back at what we have just survived, as a learning tool, as a way to honor the time spent, as a way to grow positively. We cannot learn if we do not reflect – even if reflecting is difficult and sometimes painful to do.

So, in that vein – I reckon it’s time that I mark down a little something about what 2017 meant to me. Painful as it may have been, sometimes.

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Posted in LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, MENTAL HEALTH, relationships, Tyler, writing

YEAR ONE

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For the first three months of our relationship, I probably tried to break up with Tyler at least 400 times.

“We have different thoughts about politics, we should break up.”

“The sky is blue, we should break up.”

“The cat yawned, we should break up.”

Any excuse, any absolutely asinine reasoning that my mind fell to, I was ready to bail. And holy shit – after he told me that he LOVED me?! Instead of feeling joy, I felt panic. I felt fear. I felt an enormous sense of responsibility. I felt, more than anything, incapable. What had I done? I couldn’t do this. This was too much, I wasn’t ready, it would never work, I would just get hurt. I came home and went over and over us with my fine tooth “should we break up” comb and tried to beg a reason into existence. In those early days, I asked my mom, my brother, every friend I had, “do you think Tyler and I should break up?” and they all just stared at me like I had grown a second head and told me to calm myself down because he was an incredible person.

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Posted in adventuring, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, PHOTOGRAPHY, relationships, travel, Tyler, wanderlust

RIVERFRONT PARK

Tyler & I always like to try to find little adventures to go on, whether we are in his neck of the woods (Columbia, SC), or mine (Greenville, SC). This past week, it was my turn to visit Columbia, and we decided to have a mini-adventure at Riverfront Park.

Nestled near downtown Columbia, Riverfront Park is actually a really beautiful and scenic area that feels completely removed from city life. It is perfect if you want to get active, sightsee, or do both. Their website boasts that they have 167 acres of land to enjoy, and there is definitely a lot of space to spread out and do yo thang. We passed all walks of life on our journey through the park, from runners to dog walkers to businesspeople enjoying a nice place to take a break outdoors. I’m not particularly an outdoors kinda gal myself, but I appreciate that the park has done a wonderful job at making the walking trails lively, accessible, and easy to navigate. I also loved that they had mile markers set up throughout the park, so you knew how far you had gone, if you liked to keep track of that type of thing. Oh, and doggie water fountains. That was actually my favorite part. Team Riverfront Park, friends of dogs everywhere!

Here are some pictures from our afternoon for you to enjoy. We found an old schoolhouse, the abandoned pump house that previously powered the nearby dam, and the most beautiful patch of Black-eyed Susan’s growing happily in the sun. It was a lovely day, and when Columbia decides to not be as oppressively hot and horrifying outdoors, I’d love to go back.

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