west coast

Beautiful Things: The sun and the smell of a book

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Another Friday afternoon, another seat in the sun. This week I am not sitting at Powell’s (although yes, I did stop by there this afternoon) as I write this blog post. I am sitting on the seat of our tiny little front “porch” and the sun is still out even though it is almost 7:00pm and I do not hate it this time. I do not hate it at all. I am a delightfully normal temperature and the sun along with the recent spring weather has been kind of a life changer. IMG_4287IMG_3260
Although it snows a lot more in Maine and rains in Portland, I have decided that I think Maine and Oregon winters are more similar than most would like to think. There is the same grey weariness. The same feeling of extreme jubilation when the sun does finally come out again. I remember sitting outside on Colby’s campus soaking in the sun during the spring not just because it felt warm but because I actually felt as if my body was absorbing some much needed nutrients. It was regaining life again.

As I was sauntering back to the bus stop after my Powell’s visit on this beautiful, sunny, spring Friday afternoon I was feeling the usual “I’m-Leah-and-I-just-bought-a-new-book” self-satisfied smugness. I just get unbelievably excited to open a new book. There is so much anticipation, so much build-up. So much potential. I feel jittery inside.

I am realizing now, as I write this, that these are all things most normal people might use to describe their feelings about a new relationship. Unbelievably excited. Anticipation. Potential. The jitters. The fact that I equate these feelings with the relationship I have with my books is potentially extremely odd but also speaks to the magnitude of my feelings for them. IMG_3259
A new book is just a beautiful thing. As I was standing at the bus stop waiting for the 8 bus to arrive (another inanimate object with which I have a relationship, albeit one that is not nearly as clear cut and adoring), I pulled out the new book to start reading. I just couldn’t help myself. It was at this moment that I realized that whenever I start a new book, I do four things.

1) Run my hands across its cover. Look at the front, look at the back. Take a moment to feel its sheer physical presence in my hands.
2) Quickly glance over a few of the quoted reviews featured on the back cover or the first couple inside pages. This really helps add to the build-up and anticipation.
3) Do you remember way back when we learned about using books as resources in the library at school? There is this little index on the page with all the publishing information in a book and there you can find a section that has numbered categories specifying the different genres or themes that that particular novel fits into. I don’t know why this is something that I even remember exists, and I really don’t know why I always read it but I do.
4) I always always smell my book. Today at the bus stop I had a brief moment where I thought “maybe you should hold off on the smelling since you are in a public place and there are people around” but I did it anyways. IMG_3270 IMG_3271
Sometimes we just need to sit in the sun and say thank you for existing, thank you for coming back into my life. And sometimes, you just need to stick your nose in a book and inhale. It’s the little beautiful things.
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If I Could Eat Words

IMG_3526This morning I went for a run in Forest Park and I realized seven things.

1) The sun is out.

This is always very exciting for Portland. This is especially exciting this week because we are supposed to have sun for multiple days in a row! Since I’m only working part time right now it is really easy to snuggle down in my cozy bed when it’s gray outside and barely leave the house. The sun is an inviting reminder that yes, there is life outside, and yes, you should get out of bed and go DO something. Go be active.

Just go be. IMG_3527
2) Running through Forest Park is the closest I will ever come to trail running.

After I came up with my brilliant idea to deviate from my normal run and go exploring in beautiful-green-jungle-land, I parked my car and started running.

It truly is such a magical part of the city. It is so wet and green and the sun was filtering in through the trees today in beautiful patterns. I love the feeling of running in cold air — your body is both sweaty and cold at the same time and I think it is some odd combination of these sensations that makes your nerve endings particularly alert. I felt everything. Every tight muscle in my calves, the pull in my chest, and the air pressing into me.

This ecstatic moment of true feeling turned against me after one too many hills when I had to start walking and, after a particularly low moment, lean up against a tree. For the remainder of my brief three-mile run, I alternated between running (on the downhills), walking (up the hills), and taking pictures for this blog post. I couldn’t help myself. IMG_3531IMG_3528
3) Sometimes we think we know what we’re doing and sometimes we know we have no idea and still other times, we are just snotty-nosed, running, and trying not to trip on all the roots and rocks that life (or the trail) throws our way.

Mid-way through my walk/run/photo-taking endeavors, I started laughing. I was so excited to get outside and go for a nice five mile run and here I was stopping every couple of minutes to breathe or take a picture.

I moved across the country thinking I would get here, find work in an adorable coffee shop immediately, and begin filling the rest of my days with volunteer work for inspiring creative writing organizations.

Needless to say, I think that my dreamer mentality might have slightly clouded my perceptions of what moving to a new city and searching for a job looks like. There have been a lot of moments of self-doubt and frustration, just like everyone at the crossroads of this transition point is experiencing.IMG_3521
I want to say that when I write things on this blog like, “You know what to do, so don’t be afraid and go do it,” I don’t presume to know everything. Not even close. I have been afraid many times. I question what to do. I worry. But by writing and dreaming and reaching I find a kind of encouragement. And that’s all I’m trying to share here.

Sometimes we have days where we realize we can’t run up the hills as well as we thought we could, we have snot running out of our nose, and there are way too many rocks on this path that we can trip on. I say, embrace the hilarity and run or walk or skip or stumble on dear readers.

4) A sandwich with melted cheese and tomato soup cures everything. IMG_3539
This is true. Melted cheese and some hot soup that you can dip your sandwich in are probably two of my most favorite things in the world. Not even just favorite food, I’m talking favorite things. Of all time.

So if you are feeling particularly discouraged on a given day, turn to the soup and the sandwich (more to come on this love affair in a later post). IMG_3536
5) If words were money and also edible I would totally live off of them. Off of them and nothing else. Except maybe grilled cheese. And tomato soup.

This was one of the last things I realized on my run this morning. I realized that if I am the kind of person who feels so compelled to stop mid-run repeatedly and take photos for her blog post then I should probably start taking this blog thing pretty seriously. Which is why I’m going to try and start posting regularly, three times a week. Which is why I also want to say thank you, to all of you for reading, following, and just generally supporting the wild whims and odd creative brain-firings of a 22-year-old, curly-haired, college graduate living in Portland. Truly, thank you.