just like I always do.

3 days in the 70's.
I mean, who's sick of me getting all moony-eyed over nice weather? Raise of hands?
I get it. I'm sorry. It's just that I can't help myself.
Being there made me remember (again) that it's okay if I get nostalgic. sometimes, it's all I need. it's all I have left. I walk down memory lane to the immediate sensation of being tucked into a warm hug. I literally get weepy just thinking about it.

every year around this time, I remember. I sit in the old comfy chair by the window that reminds me of you and I watch. I wait for the little explosions, for the tiny green buds on the trees in the front yard to break open and scream pink. every year, I watch and I wait. and every year, when it finally happens, it brings it all rushing back. it reminds me. of that time I said yes, that time I closed my eyes and leaped into that place they call the unknown. pink blooms remind me that I was brave once. they ceremoniously mark another year for me. without you.

I think about the first time I met you. danced in that little dive to sappy country music. a head in the clouds twenty year old, and a wide eyed romantic. I was just coming off a two day shift. as the clock ticked down, there you were. 2,476 miles, seven states, away from home. with its green green green everything everywhere, its commanding, unforgiving gloom and magnificent vistas, its chartreuse moss quietly covering every surface in sight. and then, there we were driving across a bridge into a brand new life, together for the very first time. beyond exhaustion but also wild with excitement and above all else, wildly hopeful. when we pulled off the road to a rest stop, all we could see were the pink blooms and a spectacular mess of pink confetti on the ground. the trees were throwing us a little party, I thought. it's got to be a sign.

all these years later, here I am, exploding pink trees and all. when things start to bloom, when they turn that bubblegum pink, all the old feelings come back again, just like they always do. I walk outside, camera in hand, you in my heart, just like I always do, I try (in vain) to shoot the exploding trees in a way that would tell this story, just like I always do. every year, I try. I always try. I point my Nikon at those little pink guys and hope for the best. last shot of the pack, last few days of the blooms. and the last time I saw you.

there's a longer story, of course, but the short of it is that I miss you. that's what it comes down to, I guess. I chose the family I love over the city we loved. is there any other way? any other choice? for me, that day, there was not. In the years that followed I vacillated between weepy and giddy, weepy for everything and everyone left behind, giddy for the mountain of good that we had. I was a tangled, knotty mess of emotions. awash in memories up to my eyeballs. paddling fast, struggling to keep my head above water. I could see to the other side but just barely. there were still so many miles to go, so many miles. I found myself wishing the pain away, begging for something like a giant fast forward button. and then I panicked when I realize what that would actually mean. that I would begin the big road trip home, that part of life would officially be over. I wanted it to be over, the pain, but I never wanted it to end. does that make any sense? probably not. but that's how I felt. I wanted it to be over but I never wanted it to end.

in the meantime, petals are falling. little papery bits of pink are beginning to carpet the front sidewalk. soon, the ground will be covered and I'll take my shoes off. I'll walk barefoot through the confetti, just like I always do. I will stand in it one more time. and I will remember that time I said yes, that time I jumped, that time I was brave.

just sayin'.

Spring Quinoa Salad
For the Dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the salad:
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small bunch asparagus, about 15 spears, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup frozen peas
1 avocado, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped basil

1. In a small bowl or medium jar, combine the dressing ingredients. Whisk to combine or shake with the jar lid on tight. Set aside.
2. Add water, quinoa, and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
3. While the quinoa is cooking, cook the asparagus. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the asparagus and fresh lemon juice. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the peas and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
4. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, asparagus, peas, and avocado. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir until well coated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the fresh basil and serve.


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