As part of a retrospective on my recent travels to California, I’m offering another installment to the series “Excerpts from the Coastal Dwelling.”  A collage of journal entries, narrative, photographs and random poetic waxing.

Here’s Day Two:

the California Sweater

The pools become my addiction.  I’m called to them again and again.  Three times yesterday in a short amount of hours.  I end the day and begin the day with the baths.  Hot water.  Cold water.  Steep deep.  Let the steam rise from bare skin on cold coastal air.  Every combination.  Quiet.  Speaking.  Silent.  Alone.  Communal.  Wash hair.  Keep hair dry.

After soaking I bundle and seal in all of the healing warmth with socks and boots, double layers and the California Sweater [named so because it’s stored  in CA for when I come to visit].  The wool blanket/sweater I rescued from the giveaway bag – my father’s – the one he got in Mexico twenty years ago.  It exudes the subtle scent of slightly damp wool and the weave lightly prickles my skin.  This sweater is wrapped around me now as I write ink to paper and gaze at the ring – the jade one from Hawaii – its silver casting has turned iridescent turquoise from the minerals of the hot spring.  I really must remember to start taking jewelry off in the baths.

[Though I was cleansing in the waters, I was emotionally steeped in the essence of the love with the rocket scientist that had seeded in that very place the year before.  I was making peace with landmarks around every corner.]

It all came up today – a small cry, really, but one still the same.  We were instructed in our workshop to write our life’s key points in five year increments.  Thinking of the past felt like raw tenderness.  Any recollecting just brought a floodgate of grief for the love that grew from these very grounds one year ago.

These crystalline moments of sweet connection are enmeshed in the landscape here.  I pass the grassy field where we knelt and shared a tangerine while butterflies flit around our heads.  There’s the cliffside bench, the corner tree, that table in the solarium.  I walk past the cabin and the Bottle Brush tree – the backdrop for our happy photos.  The scene’s familiar but he has vanished.

If I was not left with questions I think that I could walk among our monuments with gentle thoughts and sweet memories.  A gratitude.  Can I still find this place inside myself even if the questions are never answered?

Facilitator encourages me to be thankful for what we did share.  She says sometimes things don’t always look the way we thought they would.  And as we write our intentions and desires regarding our livelihood – our place in the world – the doubts arise about dreams. Are they really possible?  Can I trust my heart?

2 thoughts on “Making Peace with Landmarks in the California Sweater

  1. ‘Are they really possible? Can I trust my heart?’This seems to the forefront of my own questions in this moment. When things do not go as smooth as we had planned you feel the tug to abort mission and go back to something you know- even though it doesn’t honor you. Rationality urges you to hide in a familiar versus to continue walking- as scared as you might be.


    1. Your thoughts bring to mind the french phrase “joie de vivre”. I don’t even speak French but my understanding of this expression – this ‘joy of living’ – is almost visceral. When we stick with creature comfort, we’re apt to get a flatline life. If we’re seeking the juice, that feeling of aliveness, we often have to break into unfamiliar territory. I’m discovering that I don’t have to book a flight to India to get the rush. New terrain can be experienced in simple moments, new ways of seeing things, the act of simply writing words with a pen of a different color. These small steps add up and offer momentum in those moments of doubt. Keep on blazing your trail!


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