Blogtober #19: Geneva.

In 2004, I visited dear friends who lived in Pontarlier, France. Since Pontarlier is located close to the Swiss border, my friend Clara advised that I fly to Geneva, Switzerland, and she would pick me up from there. Yes, thoughts of Switzerland danced in my 24 year-old head.

It was the most beautiful place I had ever seen.

A few days after arriving and settling in, we drove back to Geneva and spent the better part of the day there. Here are some photos of that day.

• Those photos (and all the photos from that trip) were taken with a disposable camera, after which I developed the film at our local Walmart. If all those words seem foreign to you, this is how photography happened pre-smartphone.

• Switzerland sparkled. It gleamed. I felt like I was walking inside a jewel.

• I want to go back.

One of the best trips I’ve taken. Do you have memorable places you’ve visited? Pretty sure you do; feel free to share them in the comments.

Blogtober #16: How it started/How It’s Going.

Started on the left, Going on the right

This is the latest trend I’ve been seeing on social media, the how it started and how it’s going challenge. I don’t do the trend thing, by and large, but this one I like. Seeing your growth, seeing your changes. I’m all about that self-assessment life.

Your Square Peg was about 8 years old on the left. Newly arrived to the US, about to start school, grinning for her Dad’s camera. On the right, still here, missing Dad but hopeful for the future, still grinning. I’ve come a long way. Happy to be here.

Bon Friyay.

Blogtober #11: Sundays.

Sundays were my favorite growing up.

Comics. Some of you out there remember newspapers. I still love them. When I was a wee Square Peg, my pops would buy the giant Sunday version of The Washington Post, which meant a voluminous comics section, which meant a color comics section, at that (the weekday comics were black and white), which meant me spending hours upon hours in our basement, reading and laughing at the antics of Beetle Bailey, Blondie, Cathy, and breathlessly seeing the latest in Peter Parker’s unrequited love for Mary Jane Watson. It was glorious. I also loved reading the Style section and perusing others parts of the paper, filling my mind with facts and people and stories. I’d wait for my Dad to finish reading and then he’d over a section to me. These were our moments and I remember them well.

Coffee. This didn’t only happen on Sundays, but the memory of Sundays and doing this is vivid: my mom would drink her warm cup of java and leave a little behind for me. I’d “sneak” into the kitchen and finish it up, swooning over her masterful mix of coffee, cream, and sugar. Glorious. These days, I can’t handle the caffeine like I used to, but boy, did I love standing by the kitchen counter and taking in that warm sweetness.

Feeling nostalgic today. Did you have a favorite day growing up?

Blogtober #1: And Away We Go…

Blogging all 31 days of my favorite month. Can she do it? We’ve done it before, so hopefully, we shall do it again. (For past Blogtobers, shimmy over to the search feature and read up, if you like.) What Blogtober means for you, my dear reader:

Photo by OVAN on Pexels.com
  • Expect 31 days of content from me
  • Even on the weekends! (😳)
  • That emoji simply means that we’re asking TSP to remember to do anything beyond excessive napping on the weekends, much less blog. But she shall. And she continues to refer to herself in the third person, naturally
  • Discussing a variety of topics, which we do whenever I post, but as in Blogtober past, focusing on autumn-y related topics and ideas. (See my previous post from this week; guess I got started early)
  • The point of it all: to focus on consistency and creativity. I’m all about this blogging life, and events like this allow me to push myself to stay focused. All good things.

Since today is Throwback Thursday, let’s go back to October 2015. I was in Europe for two weeks that month, adventuring in Germany and England, seeing the sights and experiencing the highs and lows of solo traveling. During one of our days of sightseeing, my hostess decided to drive me to Luxembourg! Certainly not on the agenda, but I was super excited to visit the country. There was a philharmonic performance that she wanted to take me to; although the performance was canceled, we got to walk around the beautiful concert area and still drive around. Lovely and picturesque, even despite the rainy day. Photos below.

One thing I love about traveling: some of the lovely surprises that come your way. Anywho, it was one of the best autumns I had in the past, spending the better part of it experiencing new places.

Your favorite place you’ve been? Share in the comments, if you please.

Happy Blogtober. Away we go.

Speaking of Photoshoots…

Facebook reminded me that this was my cover photo four years ago today. Some facts about this shot:

1. It was part of a professional photoshoot we did while on our amazing girls’ trip to Paris.

2. That trip was four years ago in February.

3. It was freezing cold.

4. I’m not exaggerating.

5. I look at our smiles, our mid-struts, and our shiny, effortless melanin and I remember, despite the frigid weather, how much fun we had.

6. I miss my friends, traveling, and just living life the way we lived pre-quarantine.

But, all things considered, staying at home during this time means staying safe and doing my little part in not making life harder for folks like my two friends in that photo above, both of whom are on the frontlines and work in healthcare. So, I can reminisce and gaze at photos and make plans for the future—all while staying within the confines of my home.

If you’re interested in reading more about our Paris trip, start here and keep on reading.

Where would you like travel to after restrictions are lifted? Share in the comments, if you like.

Image: GIPHY

Indulge Me, For a Moment.

Sometimes I imagine that he had lived. That he didn’t stop breathing at 26 years of age. We find each other once again. It is like a story, he and I, a story that I both live and write. Here it is.

That autumn evening, they both walk into the local bookstore, neither aware of the other. She naturally gets lost in the Fiction section, trailing her fingers over spines of endless rows of books, pulling a few out here and there to gaze at plot lines in the hopes that one or two will capture her attention. (Many will.) Over in the Poetry section, he skims through collections that remind him of just how much he misses writing poetry; he wishes that real life and a lack of time hadn’t taken away his dedication. Or had he given his time away? He shakes off that unanswered question and continues to peruse.

The soft whir of espresso machines and related aromas in the nearby café eventually pull them both out of their respective stacks and over to the line. They’re both armed with books that require more time and investigation over cups of coffee; her with three novels that each bear a Jane Austen-like feel to them, and him with four intriguing anthologies by the latest Poet Laureate. Soon, she places her order with the young man behind the counter and steps over to the side to wait. He does the same a few minutes later and takes a spot a few feet away from her. While they wait for their drinks, they respectively study the other patrons in the café. It is then, during their mutual analyses, that she happens to gaze in his direction–at the same moment that he glances over at her.

Her eyes widen with instant recognition. A beaming smile across his face face.

“Order ready for Sabrina.”

“Large coffee for Riley.”

If neither had recognized the other, the calls of those two very familiar names would have provided all the information they needed. They approach one another.

“I can’t believe…” she says, her voice trailing off, her eyes fixed on his.

He doesn’t reply, still stunned that she is standing before him. Twenty years had passed them by. Twenty whole years.

He grabs their drinks while she finds a table for them in the corner. He glances at her books on the adjacent table and grins. “Were you in Fiction?” he asks.

She chuckles. “No surprise there. And you were lost in Poetry.”

“Literally and symbolically, of course.”

Silence was never an issue for them. In the past, they always had plenty to discuss; theories to riff about, silly jokes to share. And yet, now, a silence steals into their midst. It is not a passive silence, however; their prolonged stares seem heavy in meaning, the kind of unreadable expressions that will soon require defining.

“It’s nothing like our old spot, is it?” Riley then asks, gesturing around them.

“Nothing at all, save for the books and the harried girl behind the counter making all the drinks.”

He laughs. “Sounds familiar.” He remembers being scheduled with her one afternoon, watching her deftly prepare drink orders without batting an eyelash at the long lines. That day had stayed with him long after he moved on from the store, for reasons that, at the time, he couldn’t explain. “But you were never harried. You were always so cool.”

“I played it cool, my friend.”

“Do you live in town?”

Sabrina nods. “I just moved back. After college, I did some soul-searching and ended up in Phoenix, Arizona. ”

His eyes gleamed. “So you did go. Remember how much you wanted to live there? The whole mythical bird thing?”

“I do. And it was transformative it many ways. Moving away from family, being on my own.”

“So you rose out of the ashes,” he says, smiling warmly at her.

That sudden sensation in her chest. Yes. Her heart had skipped a beat. She breathes through it, deciding not to explain it away in her mind. “I did. What about you? Tell me where you’ve been. When I last saw you, you were headed back to Texas.”

He had indeed moved back to his home state to go back to college. Ultimately, however, that degree in Poetry was replaced with a Business degree and an eventual MBA. He had moved back a year ago and was now a finance executive at a firm in the city.

“The poet became an MBA? I could have never envisioned that.”

“Me, either.” He pauses. “Are you married? Kids?”

Sabrina shakes her head. “No and no. I was engaged for a bit but it didn’t work out. You?” she asks.

“Divorced. We had a good year but she was still in love with her ex, so she decided to go back to him. While we were married, I should add.”

“Riley, I’m so sorry.”

He waved his hand. “Therapy does wonders. I’m in a great place now. Are you still writing?”

“Five books published. Working on number six, the long gestating novel.”

Riley applauds softly. “I’m so proud of you. You stuck with it. I knew you would. When I first met you, I could see it in you, that love for writing. It was amazing. And it helped me, believe it or not. I was so inspired by you.”

“And I had a massive crush on you. I actually thought I was in love with you for a month or so.” She allows the words out without thinking, deliberately leaving them there, in the air.

Riley gazes at her, not completely taken aback. “I had a feeling.”

“Could you blame me? You were a poet, for goodness sake. My writer’s heart was toast.”

They both laugh, still aware of her admission, still aware of those stares in between the silences, still able to allow levity to join all the other elephants in the room.

“I thought about it,” Riley then says. “I thought about you and me.”

Her heart quickens once again. She waits for him to continue.

“But I pushed it away. You were only 19. I was 21 and not living my best life, as you know. I was toxic. So, so bad for all the people around me. It just–”

“It’s OK,” she says, gently squeezing his forearm. “We weren’t ready back then. We both had to do a little phoenix work with ourselves.”

Riley looks down at her hand. Yes, he hears in the back of his mind. It is the answer to a question he’s not yet sure of, but welcomes it all the same. He puts his hand on top of hers, linking his fingers through hers.

She remembers to breathe.

“And now we meet again, in a bookstore, no less,” he replies. “Could you fall in love with me again, for longer than a month this time?”

Yes. They had always been waiting for each other, waiting to cross paths once again. She recognizes that now. Sabrina laughs. “It depends on all the fancy restaurants you take me to. And the poetry you write me.”

“Done and done.”

They walk toward the registers, still hand in hand. He buys her books. She buys his. They depart in the parking lot with a promise to see one another the next day.

She learns, three months after their wedding, that the Poet MBA can also do wonders with plywood: he builds her a home library, complete with all five of her books and room for his first anthology.

10 Things I Learned About You.

architecture building campus college
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This Square Peg in college: ’twas an interesting time. When I look back, though, I can honestly say that I loved my college days. It was the 90s. The soundtrack of my life was lit, as the kids say, and the life lessons abounded. Here are 10 things I learned in college:

  1. My education really did belong to me. Other than that pesky Math credit, I basically curated my path of learning. If a class and its content didn’t interest me, I found one that did. I explored avenues of thought and learning that were entirely my choice. I was paying for it, after all. (Still am. Le sigh.) In other words, it was an interesting lesson in reaping the results of my academic decisions. When K-12 isn’t really about you, this was all about me.
  2. Never, ever, ever declare your undying love and devotion for your English professor when he’s likely within earshot.
  3. Don’t do #2 for professors you don’t much care for, either. I was in the cafeteria complaining about one of my not-that-nice professors and she was right behind me. Not pretty. Thank goodness I passed.
  4. College boys will be college boys. There were some doozies, y’all. One kid, a fellow English major, asked me if I used mushrooms to find inspiration when writing. I asked him if he meant the gross things in the ground. He said no. I then got it. I then walked away, laughing. *insert eye roll here*
  5. There’s an amazing literary world out there, people. I discovered some of my favorite authors, primarily female, during those four years. Flannery O’Connor. Edith Wharton. Alice Walker. I delved into their works and never looked back.
  6.  Sarah McLachlan has a song for every situation. Case in point: I lived the entire Surfacing album during my sophomore year.
  7. There are educators out there who passionately care for their students. I met a number of them.
  8. Overconfidence + higher education + assumptions = a D on your first paper for an English class. I learned to be humble and ask for help and advice.
  9. One will freak out about classes (four essay-heavy ones, to be exact) and working two jobs and believing you will flunk and one’s Mom will assure you that you’ll be fine and will command you to stop writhing around on the floor. College breakdowns are a dime a dozen. *shrug*
  10. After four long years, a seminal moment will occur when you finally begin the path to discovering just who you are and were meant to be.

Good times, indeed. I learned more than ten things, but we’ll pause for now. More lessons–and declarations of love–will come in another post.

Onwards and upwards…and college loan-wards…