When I was eight, I came to America, land of the unlimited condiments. A precocious brush with history prepared me for Ponce de León’s springs of water, but none of my books had prepared me for America’s ketchup spouts. And yet, there they were, like mythical fountains of eternal wealth, on fast food countertops spread with bins of sugar packets and cups of red plastic sticks, in a land where burglars and kings battled for America’s hearts and stomachs.Continue reading “Ketchup Tastes Like Freedom”
On Moving to Tennessee
Sunset comes in like a whisper, hushing the robin’s monologue, stretching and bending the shadows until, at last, nothing speaks save the skies. They breathe deep navy words — slowly, confidently, and silence settles down. The lamp glows warmly, inside, and I pull my legs up over the pine bench and settle down into the posture of writing as the last remnants of Jasmine rice and watermelon dissipate into the air.
Nashville or Bust
We’re moving, friends, in a whirlwind.
Josiah was laid off last fall, and now, suddenly, he’s got a new job in Nashville.
The cloud is moving. 
Seven years ago this month, I held a one-way ticket to Orlando, stepped on a plane with a (very!) infant Aveline, and touched down in this subtropical land where palm trees sway and hurricane winds rage.
TRAVEL :: Aveline is a Parisian Shop
What a delightful discovery! Aveline is an art gallery on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, specializing in objets d’art from the reigns of various Louis.*
Thanks to Follow Lauren — who’s currently happily roaming somewhere between Barcelona and London — for the sighting. (Photo via 1-cities.)
*If the lack of proper pluralization here bothers you, 1. you are likely an astute pendant, and 2. you may wish to peruse this.
POETRY & WORDS :: The Oaxaca in my Mailbox
You never know when kindness might really, really touch somebody’s heart.
It’s been a long week. But today when I swung past the mail boxes on the way home, there was a package waiting for me. A package of goodies from Oaxaca.
You guys, I’ve never even met Grethel, the sweet lady who sent these to me. We’ve exchanged messages about our mutual love for Oaxaca — she is from there, and visits each year — but we haven’t met in person.
When I opened up this package today and saw the beautiful tangible pieces of Oaxaca inside, my eyes filled with tears. (Oh, thank you, Grethel!) It’s funny how a place becomes a part of you, even when you haven’t been back in years heaped upon years.
And it’s funny how home isn’t a single place. It’s funny how home is really composed of many individual threads, all separate yet interwoven, all tied up together in one beautiful and sometimes tangled tapestry.
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” -C.S. Lewis
(Grethel Van Epps Photography | Personal Blog | Facebook Page)
TRAVEL :: Taiwanese Photographer Zachary Su
Sometimes I stumble upon a photographer’s portfolio and immediately, I am lost inside the photos. I can be sitting right here in my living room, but it feels like I’ve been transported to another world. Such was the case when I found Zachary Su’s photographs of Taiwan. Plus, I’ve been drawn to images of windows lately anyway (case in point) so I was especially enraptured by his work with light and windows.
Aren’t those incredible? I haven’t posted them here, but he takes a lot of black-and-white Taiwanese street scenes too. You can view all of Zachary Su’s photos on Flickr.
When Home Can’t Be Pinned Down
When I was little, I knew my grandparents through letters and home-recorded cassette tapes. I used to dream of hugging them, of spending long days beside them, of just looking at them and listening to the sound of their voice.
And one day, a long time ago, we showed up from another continent, from across the ocean, and “by the time we were at the bottom of the hill and had parked beside the house, my grandmother, my grandfather, and Aunt Margaret were all outside, looking exactly the way they had in the calendar picture. I ran right into my grandmother’s arms as if I’d been doing this every day.
‘Welcome home! Oh, welcome home!’ my grandmother cried.
I hadn’t known it, but this was exactly what I’d wanted her to say. I needed to hear it said out loud. I was home.” -Jean Fritz, Homesick pg. 138
All those memories came flooding back to me, this month, when I set Aveline down on the airport floor and watched her run at top speed into my dad’s arms. She latched onto him, she threw her arms around his neck, she pressed her cheek to his shoulder, and I felt it again. I felt I was a girl with one foot here, one foot there. A girl to whom home was a many-splendored thing, altogether here and there.
And in between the here-ness and there-ness is a place that can’t be pinned, a place that can’t be caught or ordered around, a place that can’t be pushed into a map’s tight little squiggly lines. It’s a place I can’t visit whenever I want to, but only when the road we’re on lets us go there, and maybe that’s the beauty of it.
Grandma never stopped smiling and Grandpa buckled her into her very own seat in his truck, and we all piled in. Looking at this scene, I didn’t know if it was 1991 or 2013. I didn’t know if she was being buckled into the seat or if it was me. Here and there passed each other so closely they became one, the one thing that can’t be held down.
“I paid no attention to the road. I just kept looking out the window until all at once there on my right was a white picket fence and a meadow, fresh and green as if it had just this minute been created…the whole scene. The perfect greenness. The washed-clean look. The peacefulness. Oh, now! I thought. Now I was in America. Every last inch of me.” -Jean Fritz, Homesick pg. 133
Every last inch.
LIFE IN PHOTOS :: My Miniature Flying Companion
Aveline and I are packing this morning, for a little jaunt a couple (thousand) miles over to cooler weather for a bit. This means I write lists and try to collect what I need to pack, and she follows me around immediately removing said items from bags while asking for (even more) kefir and shrieking happily, “Baby help! Baby help with pieces!”
Not a whole lot gets done this way.
This won’t be the first time she’s flown — she’s taken close to a half-dozen trips already — but it will be the first time she has her own ticket and own carry-on. If you happen to be in the airport on Friday, she’ll be the only kid under three feet tall to have a entire twin-size fleece Mario blanket in tow. (My “purse” will be overflowing with snacks and coloring books.)
Oh, and we’ll be traveling with Mr. Fox, too.
As it just so happens, this fox is on newsstands right now. Well, not Mr. Fox himself, but a tale of his adventures as The Flying Fox, Aveline’s traveling companion. He ends up in a stranger’s lap, and witnesses a pair of airline headphones reduced to rubble courtesy of a rogue beverage cart. (You can read more in Babiekins Magazine, Print Issue 2.)
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to tend to a toddler eruption of tears over a small issue in which a plastic figure of Mario is lodged headfirst in the Tinker Toys container.
Little Style :: Aveline is wearing a Naartjie hoodie.