Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I've mentioned many times in this blog that tradition is so important to me. I love building and sustaining memories that will re-create themselves year after year. There's something so sweet about celebrating tradition and what comes along with that.

In 2008, Allison and I decided to be kids again and start a pumpkin carving tradition. We thought it would be fun to drink wine while using sharp knives, always a wise idea, and then I'd cook a pumpkin dish for dinner to tie it all together. We kept the tradition alive for three years. Although short-lived, it's so fun that we started that and hopefully we'll be back in the same city one day to start it up again. I loved looking back at my posts from 2009 and 2010, remembering just how much fun we had together.

Although I didn't carve this cute fella, I thought he was adorable and literally looks just like me in the 4th grade:
Wasn't I cute? I passed by this on someone's doorstep when I was out for a walk and loved it.

I'm thinking of and missing you, Allison. I hope all of you have a happy and safe Halloween!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

One Year

A year ago today, I left Manhattan. As we drove out of the city, I remember thinking could this be the first day of the rest of my life? After 7 years in the city, it was equally hard and exciting to imagine a new life elsewhere, nearly 2,000 miles away from the only life I'd known for so long. Starting over, no matter what age you are, is a very bittersweet thing. Change is hard. Removing yourself from comfort, security and safety is scary but isn't that what makes life worth living? Taking a leap of faith is never a poor decision.

I moved to Denver for my then boyfriend, Bryan. Although that relationship didn't work out, I will never regret making the choice to follow my heart. I would do it again even if the outcome was the same. Love is worth the risk and being open to chasing after the unknown is exactly how I always want to live. The world is big and the enormity of possibility is so much greater than us, than the here and now. To embrace that reality is thrilling. Almost necessary, in a way.

As we crossed over the Colorado state line, I caught the sun just as it was fading:
In that moment, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and said hello to my new home. I remember thinking that possibility was ahead even though I could never know where the year would bring me. Pain, joy, tears and laughter. These things have made up this past year and I am different because of the experiences I've had. I miss you, Bryan. But, I am better without you.

What will year two have in store?  

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Faces Of Summer

It’s pretty amazing when you take the lemons life throws at you and end up making the most delightful lemonade. Sometimes, you mix a bit too much sugar in and then realize the sweet isn’t balanced at all without the tart. Then you begin to understand that you truly can’t appreciate the sweet in life without the sour. You try and try, mixing this and that, looking to find the perfect recipe. Then suddenly, all the crappy batches of lemonade you’ve created pale in comparison to the one made when you abandon all the recipes and just go by taste.

This has been life for me this summer. What began as some of the hardest months of my life are slowly turning into a sweet new season. As I get older, I've come to see that you really can’t understand the power in growth out of pain until the clouds break and you start seeing the sun again. Unfortunately, you can’t predict the weather, right? So, you wait and you watch and you hope. You hope for brighter days soon and you hope that there’s a bigger meaning in all the gloom and rain. If you can just hold out long enough, the sunshine after said rain can be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. I often think of flying in a storm and what that moment is like when you rise high enough above the clouds to encounter the sun. Sometimes, all the turbulence and fear becomes worth what you see outside of it. And it’s glorious.

Below is my own little tribute to the remarkable people who have been my strength when I’ve had none left this summer. These people are a giant part of the reason I’m stronger, happier and back to feeling hopeful again. Some have flown across the country for me while others have simply walked down the street. But, all of them have spent their time. On me. I am profoundly grateful for these people. Because of them, I'm finally seeing the clouds part and the sun peeking out. These are the sweet faces of my first Denver summer and the reasons I had to smile, even through the rain:
"Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk before me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend." ~Albert Camus

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

California Dreamin'

Guess what time it is, folks? Yep, it's Patrick appreciation time. Let me explain. Patrick is one of my best friends. I've known him for almost ten years and we've lived some major life together in that time.

Patrick and I met in 2004 while taking classes through University of Phoenix. I guess you could say he's my first online relationship, ooo. Over the years, we've seen each other through the highest highs and some pretty darn awful lows. He's been a sounding board, a voice of reason and a constant source of compassion and encouragement. He challenges me, supports me and pushes me to be the best person I can be. I am so beyond words grateful for him, I just couldn't even try to articulate it. After several trips he's made out to see me in New York, I finally got my behind out to California to see him.

Patrick lives in southern California not far from San Diego. He rents a great little house with his sweet dog and gorgeous daughter, Bella. Although he'd argue with me at times, I think he lives a cozy, simple life full of the important things. I like it. I was so happy to step into his world for a weekend and see what his day to day life is like. When I got off the plane, I was already excited. Looking up to see Patrick in the airport with this just made it even better:
I wish I would've caught the actual moment in action.

After he picked me up, we went straight over to his buddy's place to visit and hang a while before I finally experienced the gloriousness that is In 'n Out:
For the love of god, people. Drool. I took that down at 1am and went straight to bed. 

During one of Patrick's NYC visits, we'd been out super late and of course had to order pizza after getting home. While we ate, we watched an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives which featured the most amazing looking fish tacos I'd ever seen. Both of us proclaimed that one day, we would absolutely go to that joint together. That was about three years ago and Patrick still remembered the place. Wouldn't you know that it was George's at the Cove in La Jolla, not a far drive from him at all. So, he planned the entire day out to include a day trip there and it was magnificent.

We started out at Stone Brewery which has been a favorite of mine for years. Next to Colorado, California is one of the greatest places in the country for craft beer so I was psyched to go:
Not to mention, Stone IPA is one of the first IPAs I started drinking regularly and we all know how deep my love has grown for them over the years.

As if a fish taco extravaganza wasn't enough, my friend, Georgia, lives in La Jolla and she joined us for lunch. It was an absolutely perfect afternoon:
This makes me smile:
This makes me smile, too:
There ain't nothing false about the hype behind these. They were completely perfect and I could've eaten 9,000 of them. I mean, eating amazing food and drinking fantastic rose while looking out at this with my friends:
How could life be better?

After lunch, which Georgia treated us to entirely, she showed us around La Jolla and holy balls, is it beautiful. I was about ready to pack my bags and relocate immediately. As if the town itself wasn't tempting enough, we came across this little fellow that made my heart melt: 
Georgia and Patrick had to drag me away. Literally. I WANT THAT PUPPY!

We went back to Georgia's for a while after to sip some wine in her innnnnncredible home. I'm pretty sure Patrick and I both were ready to make ourselves at home and camp out for the night. Alas, we had speakeasies with skulls for walls to frolic to:
It was a badass joint. 

Overall, it was truly a perfect day.

Another thing Patrick knows I totally love is grilling out. So, the next day we had plans to grill steak and gorge on Patrick's famous homemade mac and cheese with two of his closest friends. I've heard about this damn mac and cheese for years and, being that it's the most perfect food on earth that I believe was created by angels in heaven, Patrick swore he'd make it. I whipped up some homemade chimichurri to marinate the steak in and we were off to Steve's place to cook on yet another perfect California day. 

Ok, I'm aware that I can be dramatic. But, when I tell you that this was mindblowingly good, I'm dead serious:
Heaven is this. It is not a place, it is an overflowing pan of macaroni and cheese. This is what's in the dictionary next to 'heaven' if you look it up. Promise. Patrick, you done good. 

When we all realized Lisa was MIA for a while, we found her doing exactly what she should be doing when left with remaining homemade cheese sauce:
You make me proud, Lisa.

I gotta say, my chimichurri steak was also bomb:
Man, this ain't even right for me to be writing this post after I just got home from CrossFit and ate some lame turkey and vegetables. It's a cruel world I live in.

So, honestly? I reflect a lot on the great people in my life and the amazing blessings I have. But, there's something so beautiful about those rare relationships that grow deeper and deeper over time through good and bad. Patrick is a gem and I'm very lucky that he's in my life. He's one of the constants that helps me stay sane in a world that otherwise would've put me under by now. I hope you guys out there have a Patrick in your life. If not, I'll share him and he'll gladly make you mac and cheese, too. Yep, he's that level of awesome.

Next up, Patrick comes to Colorado! Look out Denver, we're taking you by storm come November. Color me excited. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dave, Tally & Mini Brooks Hit Up Denver

I suck at this blogging thing. It's like I get brain freeze then writer's block then bam, I just stop writing. Boo on me. Keeping up with this blog has been a form of therapy for me. I write when I'm sad, I write when I'm happy and I write when I need my voice to be heard. Sometimes, I just need ME to hear me. See, I can write whacky things like that because this is my own stream of consciousness.

This summer has been hard. Probably the hardest time I've ever gone through for a variety of reasons. A huge part of emotional survival for me has been the dear friends that have spent their time and money to come visit me. Dave and Tally are two friends that have consistently made an effort to visit me all my years in New York and now here in Denver. See, Tally is pregnant and due in December but she wanted to have one more trip before the baby comes. She chose to come to Denver. That's really an honor when it comes down to it. I feel special because I'm the one the two of them would travel to see as their last 'hoorah', if you will. I feel dang lucky for that.

Considering my dumb writing brain freeze has gotten the best of me lately, it shouldn't shock you that Dave and Tally were here over two months ago. I'm happy to write about their visit now, though! Dave is awesome when it comes to thoughtfully mapping out a weekend when it's something he's really in to. He had a few mini road trips he wanted to take to check out different mountains and areas that I was really excited to see, too. They rented a car which made life so easy for me since he drove everywhere and played master navigator. Go Dave!

When they got in, I took them for Mexican at La Loma which is just so good:
Does anyone want to bring me a tortilla from there real quick?

The next day, we hopped in the car and were off on our Loveland Pass and Estes Park adventure. Holy crap, the state of Colorado is spectacular. I'm gonna let the photos speak for themselves:
Lemme just tell you, this city gal is imfreakingpressed with this nature business.

We stayed there for a while really taking everything in. It's one of the most beautiful sights I'd seen yet in Colorado and I wanted to soak it up fully. 

Afterward, we drove through Granby Lake on the way up to Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park:
When we got to Estes Park, we decided a beer was in order. Annnd, we found the greatest bar, ever:
People. That bar is made of leather. And you are nearly sitting on the floor, the chairs are so low. And they were playing old Van Halen. It was glorious.

After our beers, we did the only thing that makes sense. We ate ice cream:
Tally had had it with me and my photo taking at that point.

It really was a fantastic day all around. I didn't think anything could top it.

The next morning, it was time for our second adventure. We were headed to the top of Pikes Peak and I had zero idea what the hell that really meant. In laymans terms, it means a narrow, steep, crap your pants drive to the top of a 14,000 foot mountain. Sounds awesome, doesn't it?!?!?! I'll tell you this much, there aren't words for how scary remarkable it really was:
There is no guard rail. NO GUARD RAIL! A photo cannot capture what I saw over the edge leaning out my window:
I had to duck down and cover my eyes the rest of the way up:
Do not laugh at me.

Once we got to the top, it was undeniably the most breathtaking thing I've ever seen:
King of the world:
This place was spectacular. If this tells you anything, I jumped out of a plane at 13,500 feet when I went skydiving... Needless to say, I was moved by the glory of what we saw.

Unfortunately, what goes up must come down:
We went to Three Lions after for a beer or ten. Slowly but surely, I realized I actually did make it up and down the mountain alive. That is cause for celebration, folks. 

What an amazing day. What an amazing weekend. What amazing friends to share it with. Out of the many trips Dave and Tally have taken to see me, this was absolutely my favorite. Everything about it was different and so much better than any other time together. I've known Dave for 14 years and, as we get older, our time together simply gets richer. I'm grateful for the love and support they offered me while here, the talks we shared and the time we spent getting closer than we ever have. I can't wait for that Mini Brooks to make their arrival in a couple of months. I also can't wait to show him or her these photos one day so they know they were right there alongside us the whole time.