Gilded Closets

She looked over the curving mahogany railings to the beaming face standing sentry at the base of the stairs. His smile was definitely twinkling in his eyes today. His joy mirrored hers but looking at it blossom in his slightly dilated pupils… Well, everything was worth it for this tiny moment. This blip of happiness. She gathered up her hem so she wouldn’t trip over it as she descended. She could already hear the murmur of their thirty closest family and friends in the great room and it wouldn’t do for their welcome to be a resounding thud from her skull fracturing if she misstepped. Not today, at least; not in this perfect moment. When she got to the last two steps, He stretched out and held her hand gently. She smiled at Him gratefully and twirled on the landing. The dress was, after all, His gift to her and He had yet to see her in it.
“Come, everyone is growing restless,” He smiled but gently tugged her in the direction of the great room. She was eager to follow, breathless to please. Her happiness was His, but much greater as she was the source of His tonight. She seldom was…
They got to the double doors with their intricately carved, brass polished handles and paused for a beat. Francis was going to announce their arrival before they went in. He, too, was smiling at their approach as he turned to open the doors. This moment was almost as much his as theirs. He had been butler and head groundskeeper for as long as she could remember and he had been privy to all their sorrows and disappointments, no matter how hard she had tried to hide them. As soon as she set the tip of her heeled sandals over the great room threshold, a mass of bodies collectively enveloped then swept the rest of her into the room.
“My daaaarling! How are you both feeling?”
Her sister was looking only at her, breaking through the overwhelming haze of hellos, momentarily dispersing them. Her gaze was swaying gently from face to belly back to face- the careful pendulum of love. And for the first time that night but probably the thousandth over the last week, her left hand strayed to her belly. Her right was still firmly cocooned in her husband’s. As was wont to happen, He responded before she got a chance to, “Maman and Baby are doing well, Jas. Where’s the toy?”
The toy was Ethan. And she had begged Him to stop calling Ethan that. For whatever reason, He had adopted Jas as His little sister but would not extend the same courtesy to E. But she said none of this and smiled shyly instead. She kept her mouth and thoughts shut. Everyone expected her to… Or they had come to expect her to because of habit. Those ugly thoughts they mostly shared that she did not spare time to have thoughts in the first place were long established.
Jas winked at Him and nudged her chin ever so slightly to the table weighing the hors d’oeuvres. E was intent on the story he was listening to from Aunt Joan. All three pairs of eyes followed Jas’ chin. In the split attention lapse that followed, Jas took her hand and gave it a squeeze – as one would when shared words of condolence suddenly feel like they are not enough.
But that tiny squeeze spoke other volumes. It spoke of waves of heat and sweat tangled between two lithe bodies in the swimming pool shed on hot summer afternoons. It spoke of goosebumps and steeped nipples, buttons of tension responding to well-experienced thumbs on taut January’s endless nights. Those same thumbs she could feel on the back of her hand now, right below her wedding band. The squeeze spoke in waves but it felt like cascading falls and abandon. Really, it felt like Jas testing their limits of exposure and now was neither the time nor place for it. Not that her husband would be remotely suspicious or concerned. He would probably attribute her flush to nausea or her anticipated response to the crowd’s overwhelming love.
She withdrew her hand slowly but firmly, not wishing to offend Jas but also desiring to not draw attention to what she was definitely making a bigger deal than it probably was. Jas bunched up her face for the tiniest second then relented. She went for His elbow instead and dragged Him further into the room to say hi to “the toy”. She used this spare second to carefully compartmentalise her rushing emotions then glided in to say hi to her parents who had stayed back to give the couple time to wade in and work the room…

Prose et Poesie

Dreams III

The alchemist turned to the boy. ” This is for you. To make up for what you gave to the general.”

The boy was about to say that it was much more than he had given the general. But he kept quiet, because he had heard what the alchemist said to the monk.

“And this is for me,” said the alchemist, keeping one of the parts. ” Because I have to return to the desert, where there are tribal wars.”

He took the fourth part and handed it to the monk. “This is for the boy. If he ever needs it.”

“But I’m going in search of my treasure,” the boy said. I’m very close to it now.”

“And I’m certain you’ll find it,” the alchemist said.

“Then why this?”

“Because you have already lost your savings twice. Once to the thief, and once to the general. I’m an old, superstitious Arab, and I believe in our proverbs. There’s one that says , “Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.”” They mounted their horses…

– The Alchemist

Inspiration

Juneau in June : Bear Country or God’s Country?

I’m going to try pretending I didn’t go to Juneau last weekend. That I, in fact, am currently there and dutifully blogging at the end of each day like I said to myself that I would. But, of course, I’ve never been excellent at pretending… or not procrastinating so, I will own up to my one week of tardiness and hope my memory can still do the right kind of justice to what was definitely an experience. I will try and break up this post into two so neither are too long. I would prefer the pictures to speak for themselves, barring a few anecdotes. That being said, this is still going to be a really long post. So, I’m sorry and good luck.

Before I jump in, let’s note that I spend a great deal of my life doing a few uncomfortable comfortable things. We all do them, I’m sure most people like me are bugged by them, but we STILL do them. You know, like when we laugh at something we didn’t hear someone say in conversation but we can’t ask them to repeat for whatever reason? Or when we leave someone to have the wrong assumption about something we said or did because it’s not worth the correction and we just hope the point will never come up again? I call those things uncomfortable comfortable things. Because typically, we just can’t be too bothered.

In my case though, I do other things like always offer my own experiences when someone tells me theirs (if there’s a similarity, or the complete opposite). Not to belittle the significance or insignificance of what I’m being told (which it is often mistaken for), but to show that there is empathy or understanding; that there is solidarity in the sharing of the experience. But if you are like me, you do that enough and you begin to feel like you need to take a step back, remember what it feels like to not identify with someone or an experience. Sometimes, I forget that I want to walk into a situation like I don’t know a damned thing.

Why?

Because, if not, I get so accustomed to trying to identify/compare anecdotes or experiences to ones in my archives, that I stop creating new ones. I no longer have the blank slate necessary for completely new experiences and perspectives that are not like ones I already have. In other words, and to paraphrase my mother, I need to stop acting like I have all the damn answers.

And that’s why trips like Juneau are always necessary for  people like me – Trips to unpopular* destinations taken alone with adventure and discovery being the main motives. Words like adventure and discovery always insinuate novelty anyway and novelty is required to learn. So, I needed this journey to Alaska. And, as soon as my plane started taxiing for take-off, I realised that I needed it more than I thought.

In honour of how many things I didn’t know before embarking on this trip, here are some fun (not so fun) facts about Juneau, Alaska that I learned along the way courtesy of my formal and informal guides:

– Juneau is the capital of Alaska. (You thought it was Anchorage, didn’t you? Didn’t you? Don’t lie)

– About 33 000 people are actual residents of Juneau, making it the second largest city in Alaska.

– Juneau is home to about 600 bald eagles. They’re literally everywhere like pigeons are to Chicago or NY. Okay, I exaggerate a little but they’re seriously everywhere.

– We plebeians, that do not make Alaska our permanent abodes, live in the ‘lower 48’.

– Admiralty island, 6 miles from Juneau, has the highest population of brown bears in Northern America.

– That doesn’t mean they are lacking in any other species of bear over there. I was reminded often that I was in ‘bear country’.

– There are 17 million acres of forest around Juneau

– It rains too much in Juneau. Like I could tell you they had 100 inches of precipitation each year but that doesn’t mean much to you, does it? So translation – it’s a freaking lot. But it did not rain ONCE in my three days there. Can you say miracle?

Last, but certainly the highlight of my facts:

– There is a block in downtown Juneau that has an elementary school with a middle school right beside it. Beside that is the high school. Across from the high school is a polytechnic where you learn boat maintenance and repair. Beside that polytechnic is a boat wharf where boats with issues are fixed. Behind the elementary school on the other side of the block is the retirement home, and down the street from that is the cemetery. They call that beautiful arrangement in Juneau the circle of life.

Okay, it’s over. I’m going to jump into pictures now! And as you look at these pictures, think on this – One of my tour drivers asked (in pretty standard fashion) if anyone going rafting had ever been to Alaska before. Only a couple people had so he asked why they kept coming back and a lady pipes up from the back of the school bus saying, ” Because this is God’s country.” She was probably referring to the beauty and how nature still leaves so beautifully with humanity. And it’s the truest thing I heard my entire trip. So enjoy God’s country 🙂

 

-The view from my hotel window – Downtown Juneau

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– The view of Mount Roberts from Downtown Juneau

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– Downtown Juneau looking down towards the coast and Mount Roberts tramway

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– A bald eagle chilling on a street light post

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– The Mendenhall glacier from lake Mendenhall

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– Hi! It’s me!

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– And again

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– “Crazee the clown”

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– Just a cool picture. And clouds. OMG clouds.

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– No phones, no cameras, no children, no drunks. LOL

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– Because mountains and clouds everywhere. Seriously, clouds

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– Mandatory selfie with a pinch of a view 🙂

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– Some cool graffitti

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– The best restaurant in downtown Juneau – Tracy’s King Crab Shack

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– My shrimp sauce ( seriously the best and freshest shrimp), king crab bisque, ginger ale and light reading

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– The view of Juneau from the Mount Roberts tram

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– And again

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– And yet again

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– Lady Baltimore – a half-crippled, half-blind bald eagle close to Mount Robert’s summit

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– So many cautionary signs

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– I did say I was in Bear Country

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– At the summit of Mount Roberts

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– The trail from the summit of Mount Roberts

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* – Places to which people in my regular circles do not visit and do not plan to visit for a plethora of reasons.

Travel