Aug 25, 2015

the grit of goodbyes.

 photo DSC_0265_zpsnl1roqts.jpg
good-byes hurt. and they happen too much. the only thing I know for certain about this whole good-bye thing? you have to say it sometimes. you have to get real brave, and bite your bottom lip, and let people go sometimes. fully, fully. whether you feel ready or not, you're still going to grow up and use that word a lot more than you ever expected to. 
>> hannah brencher << 

 photo DSC_0395_zpsdpqqfxtb.jpg
 photo DSC_0407_zpswns87gdp.jpg
she was the last glance behind the shoulder, the last cheek-to-cheek hug, the last blown kiss. she lingered in between the goodbyes. 
she left the last pages of journals unfinished, coffee tins half empty. she was always trying her best to hang on.  

I left johanna's home nearly two weeks ago. i didn't water the McDonnell's parking lot with tears like i had at In N' Out in camarillo nearly a year ago. and i wish i could say that the years have made me brave — that they had disclosed some secret formula to keep me from melting into lake arrowhead at the very mention of "goodbye." truth is, i think i've become accustomed to the feeling of missing. i'm always missing something or someone. 

to be honest, i'm not good at goodbyes. i like "see you later's" and alligators and crocodiles. the taste of goodbyes are often left stale and gritty because i don't put them to rest. i don't like letting go. maybe that's the human part of me who fights against inevitable change. because every ticket to and from Florida is an automatic entrance into the change that is etched into me every time college happens. and it's an odd feeling, being the only connection between two different worlds. 

to the college students who are going away, goodbyes are going to become a second language to you.  not the type where the conjugations twist your tongue or you can't determine the masculine or feminine pronouns, but one that clings to your pumpkin colored cardigans and sticks to the soles of your boots after they become hollow from the tiled terminal floors. home is going to tuck itself into the very corners of your suitcase until the smell of it is only vague after storage opens. and there will be nights as the christmas season advances when you won't be able to hide your tears when "i'll be home for christmas" plays in the malls. there'll be nights in the shower that you'll try to stifle tears. and there will be nights you'll fall asleep, nose buried in a blanket that you wish could transfer you to your own bed. 

the only advice i can give you is don't hold on too tight. this life wasn't meant to be held onto. it's meant to be planted in the souls you see down your hall everyday. home will live in your dad's corny jokes that you laugh over with your roommates or when you try to repeat your mum's advice on laundry. it's meant to be impressed upon you and kept pressed between pages of the stories you'll tell around honey-cured hams when christmas eventually calls you back. 
plant your home in people and suddenly the grit of goodbyes is graphed into something more. 
it becomes a beautiful hello.    
also: please pray for the fires that continue to ravage the west coast, especially the ones up in the pacific northwest. 

Aug 20, 2015

"she lives — no, she thrives." // johanna // senior photos

 photo Collage_zpsxlzd2a1w.jpg
let me tell you the story of a girl who was brave as she was kind. 
 photo DSC_0427_zpsizwmfno3.jpg

a quiet storm that is going to change the world.

 photo DSC_0434_zpsyhzy3qun.jpg
 photo DSC_0438_zpsw1dziu4x.jpg
 photo DSC_0858_zpstqrodrxv.jpg
 photo DSC_0490_zpsshcxosgt.jpg

 photo DSC_0543_zpspkogg5aa.jpg
 photo DSC_0564_zpsmqfttyuo.jpg
 photo DSC_0541_zpsfqa8uqy2.jpg
 photo DSC_0464_zpsv03obz5n.jpg
 photo DSC_0607_zpssq8lzca2.jpg
 photo DSC_0578_zpsnroen1bj.jpg
 photo DSC_0599_zpsxiludwxe.jpg
 photo DSC_0612_zpscxh4i0j5.jpg
 photo violin closeup_zpslzkqb0op.jpg
 photo DSC_0620_zpsaqpe8npz.jpg
 photo DSC_0629_zpsjtqygztq.jpg
johanna and i went on our traditional tea at the teahouse on the los rios in san juan capistrano. instead of squealing over the baby succulents and the gold rimmed tea cups on the white table clothes, we greeted them like old friends, asking "has it already been a year?" we talked of our previous visits to the tea house and about taking our someday-highly-probable-tomboyish children to tea {because, let's face it, life is ironic}, imagining their chagrin as we pat napkins to clean their pudgy cheeks and their sour faces as they sip apricot tea. marriage and someday-families are not as foreign, fairy-tale conversation topics as they were before. the conversation died down, and we closed our eyes when the sun dappled through the trees to fully savor one moment of time standing still. it's a funny thing when you grow older — how one feels pressed between the fading past and a weighty future, always trying to hold on to something that's tangible.
 photo DSC_0660_zpsmgusifbg.jpg
 photo DSC_0657_zps6gxcu56v.jpg
 photo DSC_0678_zps0neiw0tp.jpg
 photo DSC_0674_zpsasyzsslx.jpg
we laugh now because most of our friendship is made up of "how on earth did THAT happen?" moments. to this day, she doesn't remember how exactly she found this little spot of the blogging world. I remember first clicking onto Johanna's site five years ago and gathering the courage to ask to become pen pals with "the old fashioned girl." a year later i met her in person; two years later i spent a week with her and her family — a rather unorthodox tradition that has yet to be broken. and five years later after many blog comments, letters, packages, Skype calls, FaceTime calls, iMessages, Disneyland trips, handfuls of three-hour long-distance phone calls, three week annual visits, a yosemite adventure, and four years of high school later; we're here. i've had the pleasure of following this young lady's journey from being a twelve-year-old homeschool impromptu speecher to her becoming a stunning state champion dramatic interper. and while maybe we haven't been together in person to experience the "big" moments of our lives, we've been there for each other. i think that's what i love best about her: she makes me realize i'm not alone in anything. we're in this together. 
 photo DSC_0857_zps0nc4eoxn.jpg
 photo DSC_0710_zpsnozjhidi.jpg
 photo DSC_0712_zpse78xqz2p.jpg
 photo DSC_0882_zpsllmr7qn2.jpg
 photo DSC_0715_zpsbeuxqfgl.jpg

i think people are often surprised when i say that my best friend and i have known each other through high school even after 300 to 3000 miles have separated us. but if they honestly knew this gem, they'd instantly recognize people like her aren't ones that you simply let go. despite the growing pains. despite the distance. despite the busyness. despite all that this life likes to throw at you. you hold onto them. no matter what. 

sometimes you see God's fingerprints, sticky and blatant on people who touch our lives.  
that's what i see when i think of her
johanna, you're going to move mountains in college.
we're in this together, okay? 
xx // your almond joy 

Aug 5, 2015

you always dreamed of being adventurous // yosemite 2015

 photo DSC_0035_zpsof7te3mj.jpg
There is a season for wildness
and a season for settledness, and this is neither.
This is about becoming.
>> Shauna Niequist << 
 photo DSC_0024_zpsfhuk0joj.jpg
 photo IMG_3057_zpsxgczerwz.jpg
 photo DSC_0028_zpskrsssz2y.jpg
 photo IMG_3066_zpsp7wa9ziz.jpg
 photo DSC_0011_zps9q4yukai.jpg
 photo DSC_0045_zpslpysgulp.jpg
 photo DSC_0046_zpsxfpabbx8.jpg
 photo DSC_0058_zpsob8hmofk.jpg

these are the days of early mornings, river swims, woods drenched in sticky sunlight, painting the dusk, wind combing through the pines, and the brooks chattering about the comings and goings of the seasons. 
standing in the valley floor, surrounded by stone cathedrals carved with ice and wind and rain, i swear there is granite dust in my bones. these walls of stone are time capsules, echoing of childhood memories i recollect only when i'm sitting on boulders that have been carried by the river underfoot. 

these past two weeks have been spent road tripping the whole of CA with my wonderful family and my dear Johanna from the rolling hills of my hometown to the spiring cliffs of the sierra nevadas to the mountains of Lake Arrowhead back down to the sunny corner of SoCal. in yosemite, mornings were spent clutching the warmth of coffee as the sun gently warmed the sweet-pine air; afternoons were for swims in the river; and evenings around a red and white checkered table cloth revealed hearts and chiseled laughter into the night over summer watermelons from the farmer's market. i'm spending the rest of the week at johanna's, adventuring, laughing, teasing, taylor-swift and avicci singing car tripping, and relishing the feeling of being alive in the summertime as the season slowly dwindles. five years since meeting her through the blogging world seems like a forever time ago. 
this is the season for learning to allow it to wash over you like summer rain, learning to live and let go in the process.  

happy august, lovelies!
listen: "valentina"