I wasn't much in the mood to celebrate this July 4th ... so we didn't. (Even Soca wasn't having it: Marcus took her outside for her evening walk just as the fireworks around our area were going off. Even though Soca hasn't ever batted an eye at some of the very noisy thunderstorms Houston is known for, one boom from the fireworks and girlfriend muttered "oh, HELL no" under her breath and dragged Marcus right back inside. She was not amused.)
But on Sunday, my parents invited us and our friends Trish & Carl and their kids to come over for a barbecue, and the kids spent 7 full hours in their backyard pool, stopping only to eat, and impatiently pose for the photo above. And it was very, very good.
Holidays are totally for family -- blood and chosen.
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.
Soundtrack: Fireworks by Moby
All the very best of the holiday season, from our family to yours!
It had been almost exactly three years since our family was in England -- we spent Thanksgiving 2011 in Bath. This year, instead of picking a central location in the middle of the country, and meeting Marcus' family there, we spent most of our time roadtripping to various locations to visit their homes: first to Cornwall (where we celebrated my mother-in-law's birthday), then to Gloucester to visit my father-in-law, and finally a couple of days in London -- because London, for me, is where it all began.
The time in England had me thinking about what "home" means -- and in my life, "home" is sort of complicated. "Home," of course, is here in Houston, Texas, where Marcus, Alex and I make our daily life: sleeping in our little suburban house, Marcus working a daily 20-minute commute away, Alex attending the school she loves. It's where many of our dear friends are. It's the place where we create our life.
Also, for me, "home" means Trinidad, my birthplace and birthplace of my parents, the country of my culture. It's the place where, as soon as I get off of the plane at Piarco International Airport, I exhale. Trinidad is where I don't have to try so hard. Where, despite all of its flaws (and there are many), I get it. I'm not on my guard as much. I'm not as affected.
But more and more, England is starting to feel like home, as well. England is where I first felt my most independent -- moving away from everything familiar to make my own way in a whole new culture. England is where I met and married my love. And it is where his family, without hesitation, made me one of their own. I really, really love England.
And this trip, while altogether far too short, really drove this point ... well, home. It was lovely seeing Marcus with his family again, of course, but it was lovely for me, as well -- because in its strange, beautiful way, it was my homecoming, too.
Here's a bit of what it looked like.
Wonderful seeing everything and everybody again. Here's hoping it doesn't take us 3 years to get back again.
As I write this, it's late Thursday evening, and Alex and I have just spent a full day with my sister and her kids, going all over San Francisco. It has been an incredibly fun, whirlwind trip - the kind where it's hard to believe that so much fun could be packed into less than 48 hours. (And for those of you who came out to the Alex & Ani/ONE Campaign party, thanks so much for helping start our San Francisco trip so beautifully!)
But for now, to bed: we have an early flight to head back to Houston in the morning. I'll return to sharing linky goodness with you next Friday, but in the meantime, I hope you had many moments of light this week, and as always, have a wonderful weekend, friends.
See you Monday.
I'm not going to lie: this was a challenging week -- one where I would normally be tempted to just skip doing my This Was A Good Week post. But honestly, I think it's during times like this that making note of what was good about this week is even more important -- I've said before, I think the process of noting the good every day is one of the keys to living an overall joyful life. Besides, in addition to gathering evidence of joy, I think the practice is also significant in building resilience for the tough times. And so, in the spirit of this, here are some moments of beauty during this week that made me smile:
• I took a roll of film to my developer this week. I had shot a few frames with my Hasselblad and promptly forgot about it, and so when I realized earlier this week that I still had a half-exposed roll in the camera, I used it up quickly and took it in. When I got it back yesterday, I realized the roll contained portraits that I'd taken of my family a few months ago in my parents' backyard. It was a very happy surprise.
• Speaking of family, my sister sent me the link to this article, "A Message for My Beloved Children Who Insist Their Lives Are Really, Really Hard." Oh how I laughed and laughed, remembering how my mom and dad used to do this to us ... and then realized that I do it to Alex all. the. time. Circle of life, man.
• Farrah shared this raw description of her daily grind -- and I found it deeply comforting this week.
• Gabrielle installed these awesome swings in her back garden for her family, and now I need to find a tree.
• I love these images released by the Metropolitan Museum of Art -- and you can use them on your non-commercial website! Some of them are just stunning.
• I'm also digging this photo project -- images that poke fun at stereotypes. It warms the cockles of my beauty-of-different heart.
• Xanthe never disappoints: I love this stop-motion video of day from her recent family camping trip. Gorgeous.
• Alex did her final required bit of homework for the year this week. I think we're both relieved.
• I found this 365 day project -- "imperfect and unedited" daily writing for a year -- and I'm riveted.
• And finally, today's the start of a long weekend here in the States, and we have a lot of good friend-and-family time planned. So looking forward to it.
On that note, I'm going to take that extra day off, so I'll be back in the saddle on Tuesday. Also, for those of you who might be graduating something over the next couple of weeks, here's a little bonus for you: the commencement speech Ellen DeGeneres delivered at Tulane University in New Orleans, in 2009. I don't remember a single commencement speaker from any graduation I've ever been a part of, but I'm pretty sure I would've remembered this 10-minute gem.
Enjoy, friends. And have a great weekend -- have fun, and stay safe.
They're here! Marcus' mum, brother Matt, sister-in-law Helen and niece Lowenna arrived Friday night, and we've settled in to an official family holiday.
First on the agenda: Helen had never been to Austin and wanted to visit, so we rented a car bigger than our house and hit the road.
It's good to have them here.
This photograph was taken as part of #NaPhoPoMo (National Photo Posting Month) -- a shot a day for the month of November. You should join me: it's a lesson in stopping and looking, improving your photography skills, and appreciating the beauty and light around you.
Click here to see who's participating (and sign up your own blog, if you'd like!). And if you tag your photos with #NaPhoPoMo on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Google+, your image will automatically be seen here. I hope you join in the fun - and I can't wait to see what you capture.
When I think of the summers of my youth, the ones that stand out -- by far -- are the ones my family spent with another family or group of families. It's not that my sister, mom, dad and I didn't have really great times with just the four of us -- of course we did -- but there was just something very special about spending time with cousins, aunts and uncles, or people close enough to be cousins, aunts and uncles.
See, whenever we got together with other families, my parents were so busy having fun with their friends, they didn't really care much about what my sister and I were up to with our friends, so long as nothing got broken (including, though not necessarily especially, our own bones). Given this, whether we were visiting our extended family or renting a house with one or more other families, my sister and I had a hell of a lot more leeway than usual: we'd take off with our cousins (or people-close-enough-to-be-cousins), exploring for miles (even though back home our parents wouldn't have let us circle the block without them); or, better still, we'd eat food that was seriously bad for us without so much as a sideways glance from our mom (despite our 3-Oreo-cookie-maximum rule that was usually strictly enforced, violation of which was punishable by death -- or, you know, the restriction of TV privileges).
And when night fell, all us kids would stay up until the wee hours of the night (even though we usually had strict bedtimes), listening to our parents' laughter and the clinking of their after-dinner beverages. We'd whisper and try to giggle quietly so as not to attract any attention, but even if we did, the most we'd get is a "YOU GUYS ASLEEP UP THERE?" yelled up at us, without even the slightest bit of reprisal if we weren't.
Yup: vacations with other families meant freedom.
This week, my sister and her family have been in Houston visiting my mom and dad, so Marcus, Alex and I have been spending every spare moment at my parents' house. As soon as we arrive, Alex strips down to her swimsuit and she and her cousins disappear to play for hours in the pool; and my sister and/or my dad whip up a few cocktails for us to enjoy poolside (dude, we're Trinidadian -- immediate cocktails are imperative when we get together, it's in our blood). The week has been full of laughter and good food and good times, and Alex is already lamenting that her cousins leave tomorrow.
This summer has certainly turned out to be the Summer of Good Family Times, as this is the third such bonding-time-with-family-or-people-close-enough-to-be-family (the first two are here and here). And as we slip into the last month of summer, I'm incredibly grateful that Marcus and I have been able to connect with people special to us this year, and Alex has had a taste of real freedom with her own friends, while connecting with people special to her.
Because, I've learned, this is the way summer ought to be.
Happy Friday, and happy August, friends.
Song: The August Playlist. This playlist is a very accurate audio representation of what summer sounds like around my house these days. Simply click here or on the image below to listen. (And as always, you can click here to listen to all the previous playlists I've made.)
songs on this playlist (45 minutes)
Get lucky, Daft Punk
Thinking 'bout your love, Eat More Cake
Blurred lines, Robin Thicke
Lovers in the parking lot, Solange
I want you back, Lake Street Drive
Because of you, Ne-Yo
All the right places, Zach Heckendorf
Glorified high, Sarah Jaffe
Diablo rojo, Rodrigo y Gabriela
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