Sunday, June 9, 2019

June. So far.

On Friday, May 31, I picked up my twenty-year-old cousin (whom I hadn't seen in 18 years) and her friend, Tristan, (whom I'd never never met before), and headed to the Bellingham Airport.

Yes, I was traveling with strangers who were decades younger than me. Yes, I may have been a bit concerned about conversation topics; WHAT would we talk about during this very long travel day? And ME. I'm old, fat and wrinkled. How would they feel being saddled with a senior citizen on their quick trip to Palm Springs? I was maybe a teensy bit nervous about trying to be 'cool'. In our little party of 3, I was the minority.

As we make our way out of White Rock, we make friendly small talk. And by the time we merge onto Hwy 99, I'm telling them about that time in 2011, when the kids and I ditch my truck at the side of the road and run to the border in order to catch our flight ... Raquel asks detailed questions, like, what happened to your truck? How did you get to the airport from the border? How much did it cost?

Two seconds after merging onto the 99, we stop moving.
"Oh oh", Raquel says. "This is not good."
I rarely enter the States at the Peace Arch crossing so I'm not sure how serious her "Oh oh" is.
"How far away are we from the border?" I ask.
"Ten thousand miles," was her response. (It probably wasn't what she said, but that's what I heard.)
"Uhhhh," I sigh.

The two 'kids' are googling and texting. They're looking for information (2 hour delay at this crossing) and options (90 minute delay at the truck crossing) and advising Julie in Palm Springs of our situation.

Julie is optimistic that even with a 90 - 120 minute delay, we'll still make our flight.
So we sit and wait.
Thirty minutes later we haven't moved an inch.
I am doubtful.

And then we proceed forward ten car lengths and are filled with cautious joy.
"Even if we miss this flight, we can catch the next one, right?" Raquel suggests.
"Allegiant flies to Palm Springs twice a week. The next flight is on Monday afternoon. We really have to catch this one..." I say.

We sit and wait.

"Uh, Jane. That thing? About parking and running? Uh, how does that work again?"
"Shit. I'm going to do it AGAIN? What the heck? OY."
I think it through in my mind, then ask Siri to call Clint. While Siri is making the connection, I'm driving along the shoulder looking for a safe place to park my truck. All the side roads are closed and the one closest to the border has construction all over it. I turn into the provincial park and find a parking spot, all the while letting Clint know what I'm about to do, and my need for him to find someone to move my truck before dusk.

"I'll look after it, mom. Just leave the keys under the seat."

(I have never felt so loved. And so not-judged.)

"OK. Grab your stuff, we're going to walk south." I say to my wide-eyed travel mates.
They each have mostly empty backpacks. I have a suitcase on wheels and a large travel bag. I am wearing flip flops and too many clothes. I am 8 years older than I was the last time I did this.

We hurriedly walked alongside the waiting-in-line vehicles (which are not moving) (WE SO MADE THE RIGHT DECISION), them, with their young legs and minimal luggage, me with my rolly suitcase and bulging travel bag (I had FOUR large hardcover books along. And Max's camera. And my laptop. And stuff. And things. It was 30 degrees outside and I was sweating and my calves were singing and I am really too old for this shit.)

We cross 172 lanes of not-moving cars and make our way to the building, getting yelled at by border guards along the way. You'd think they'd never seen pedestrians cross a border before.

Once inside, the kids got nervous and encouraged me to go first. I explained we were pedestrian crossers.
"Someone dropped you off?" he asked.
"Uh, no. We parked the truck at the Provincial Park. My son will pick it up later."
"Why would you do that?"
"We have a flight to catch, and the line up just wasn't moving..."
"What time's your flight?"
" 2-ish."
He nods.
"So what's next?"
"We'll walk across and call a cab."
"I'd recommend Uber."
"Ahhh. I don't have Uber."
He looks at Raquel and Tristan.
They shrug.
I hand my phone to Tristan, a lad a met an hour ago, and ask him to download the app for me while I finish up with the official.
He's finished scanning our passports then says, "Take this orange paper to the hut over there. Then there's a path that will take you around the freeway to a cafe in Blaine. That's a good spot to be picked up. Good luck."

If I'm walking down a path blah blah blah, I'm not doing it in flip flops.
I find a place to sit, rummage through my things to find my runners and start changing my footwear there inside the border building. HOW OLD AM I?

Meanwhile, Tristan is asking for my phone password, my email, my email password, my Visa number, my address, my birthdate, my weight, my height, what drugs I'm on ... SO much info to get set up on Uber. As we're walking towards the hut, and then along the path, he continues to set up the app, and then proceeds to request a ride.

We wait for 12 minutes in Blaine, at the side of the road, in front of the cafe for our ride. (A tiny KIA with a trunk that doesn't open.) We squish in, I make small talk with another stranger, and we get dropped off at the airport just as they're doing the pre-boarding call.

I slept most of the flight.
With my mouth open.

And before you know it, there we were. In (one of ) my (seemingly many) happy places.
Having a mexican dinner on the main drag in Palm Springs.

And then?

Home; via a sexy ride.
Convertible Mustangs are da bomb.

Everyone who was not me changed into bathing suits.

Tristan didn't have anything suitable, so he borrowed something left behind by someone, some time ago. He was a good sport about it.

The following day (Saturday, June 1), Julie got up at 6:30 to go hiking.
I did not.

The day was mostly all about reading, tanning, dipping, and drinking gallons of water.

In the evening we played Crazy 8's with child-appropriate-not cards ...

and this high score of 97 does not mean I won.
The understanding was 'first person to 100 points has to make supper'... but seeing it was my birthday, we quit before anyone officially got to 100. And they made supper for me.

And I took pics of them cooking for me:

Meals ALWAYS taste better when they're prepared by someone else's hands, eaten on a patio, at 8 pm, with good company.

Thanks, Julie, Raquel and Tristan for making this birthday meal so delicious and memorable.

The rest of the weekend was wonderfully relaxing.
The kids are both drama students, so the following day, they read/did/memorized lines:

While Julie and I tanned.

It was 105 degrees.

And on Monday, the three of them went home to Canada:

And with that, I was on my own for the rest of the week.
My gift to myself.
Four nights in the desert to read, think, sleep, pray, eat, write, tan, flop, float and go for long drives.

Driving a convertible is exciting and free-ing and wonderful, but

it also had me feeling awfully vulnerable in a country known for it's road rage and gun ownership.

I never watch the news. Never.
But I'd watched it one night in Palm Springs. The top story was about a middle-aged blonde woman who'd been missing for three days. Her body was found in a water reservoir and they were suspecting foul play.

Every time I stopped at an intersection I tensed up. I felt so very exposed and available. That guy in the passenger seat beside me, could hop out of the truck and smack my head. The guy on the other side could reach right in and grab my camera. My purse. My life.

I hate feeling that way.

I was in MY HAPPY PLACE. There shouldn't be room for fear in my happy heart.

I drove til the colours left the sky and the stars popped out.
I drove until I felt safe again.

I drove until 9 pm.
Then did something I've never done.
In my life.
I skinny dipped.

Livin on the edge.


The next morning I woke up and grabbed my phone to check the time.
10 am
I had six hours to wash my bedding/remake my bed, clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen, take out the garbage/recycling, get the mail, deal with the pool toys/chairs, repack my suitcase, shower/do hair, arrange an Uber ride to the PS airport and figure out how I was getting home from the Bellingham airport.

While still lazing about in bed, I checked Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Emails ... and read something that caused my heart to pound extra fast and super hard and made my body overheat. God was saying 'no' to something I'd been praying about. And He was letting me know, very clearly, on my last day in Palm Springs.

I re-read the message a hundred million gazillion times, then let myself cry.

"Get it all out woman. You've got six hours to grieve and wail and carry on and then you've got to get your shit together. By 4 pm, you better be over the worst of this. By 4 pm when your Uber driver arrives, you are going to be smiling and relaxed and friendly. So go for it. You can cry long and hard."

And I did. I stripped the bed and could hardly breathe I was sobbing so deeply. I loaded the dishwasher and blew my nose about a million times. I got into the pool to cool down and added ten gallons of tears to the (already) salt-water filled pool. I chatted with God for six straight hours.

"So. It's no? Now what? Have I wasted three years praying about this? Three years of wondering? Hoping? Dreaming? WHAT THE HELL, GOD? OK. These are things I know to be true: 1. You are good. 2. You love me. 3. You can do anything. (Well, any except make someone love you. Or make someone love me.) 4. You are GOD. 5. You are creative. 6. You have a plan. 7. You have a plan for ME. 8. It's a plan for good and not for evil. 9. You are saying no because you can see the big picture.  10. You are more concerned with my holiness than my happiness. 11. You are saying no because it's not good for me, or anyone else. 12. How am I getting home from the airport? Another Uber ride to the border, walk across and then a cab home from there? FINE. 13. I'm aching and hurting right now and so very sad. 14. This is the third NO from you in the past 20 years and I'm a little sick of it. 15. Ultimately, I pray that Your will be done. If this is Your will, so be it.  16. I don't want to waste hours and days or the summer months being bitter or angry or confused by this. There must be a lesson in here somewhere. Please show me what it is so I can learn it quickly and move on. Give me the insight and wisdom I need to see clearly. By July 1, please. 17. Could you give me a new dream? One that will have a more favorable outcome? 18. SHIT THIS HURTS. And I feel so stupid for talking to You about this for THREE BLOODY YEARS. 19. Oh, Val is going to pick me up from the airport. Ahhhh, well. Thank you. Yeah, that's perfect. Just lovely. Thank you. 20. I'm still aching in my heart. But I know You are good. And I know the measure of the good you're doing in my life ISN'T how I'm feeling about it. My feelings are an unreliable source of information. So I will rely on facts that my brain knows to be true. Your character is dependable. And I will stop crying in the next three hours and just trust in You."

And then?
Before the Oscar the Uber guy picked me up, I drove over to a gas station to put some gas in the car and throw my 2016 - 2017 prayer journal in a garbage can.

And when I got to the airport and passed through security, I threw my 2018 - 2019 one in the  bathroom garbage can.

"Yes" answers to prayers make for great stories. "No" answers do not. Reading through those journals just made my heart hurt, so I got rid of them.

And by the time Val picked me up from the airport with a box of chocolates and a hug, I was back in charge of my emotions.


THREE TIMES before the day was done I randomly heard the Green Day song, "Time of Your Life".

And it felt a bit like a gift.
The past three years really have been lovely. I have memories and photographs and still frames and cards and and and maybe some wisdom about a few things. I know this song is typically associated with graduations, but it just feels like it's gonna be my summer theme song.


Saturday evening at church the message was based on Habukkuk. RANDOM choice of scripture, yes?

These were the notes:

1. Can we ask God questions? Can we complain to Him?
YES. The Bible is filled with examples of people lamenting/whining to Him about their circumstances, His answers/non-answers to prayer, their unmet needs. He is GOD, He can handle whatever we are grumbling about. He invites the conversation.

2. What is the cause of our questions? WHY do we question Him? 
We do this because we are troubled by the gaps between our expectation of God and our experiences with God.

  • We have misguided expectations of God. We think of Him as a divine butler or a genie in a lamp. All we need to do is ask nicely and He will answer. If not, He must not be real, or capable or interested. 
  • We have misinterpreted experiences with God. We make drastic conclusions based on our feeling IN THE MOMENT. We need to remember that we have a limited vantage point; we mustn't get caught in a moment but learn to wait and see. 
3. What should we do after we ask God our big questions? 
(Most people who've walked away from their faith do so because they have unmet expectations. They want those (good, noble, helpful) things they've prayed for, NOW.) Habakkuk exclaims that he is going to WATCH and WAIT. He has burning questions. He is disappointed and angry. And hurt. And confused. But He is going to remind himself of God's character and He Will Wait. Because he knows, (we all know) that God does great things in the midst of hard times.


I swear. Sometimes, sermons are written and spoken JUST FOR ME. 


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Days in the desert.
2. Weekends in the (Fraser)Valley
3. Answered prayers. Even if the answer is no.


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