What’s WRITE about Landon!

Click the link below to view a spotlight I did on Southern Charm’s, Landon Clements!  A big thanks to Landon for the interview!

What’s WRITE about Landon!

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What’s WRITE about Ashley and Ashleigh

0b0a7436-2We all do it.  We put up inspiring quotes on our instagram feeds, or Facebook statuses.  You know the kind…the ones that say something like, “speak the truth, even if your voice shakes,” and are spray-painted on the sides overpasses or broken down barns.  Then we feel really cool, like we’ve put something fabulous and a little hipster into the world, and we go on with our days.  We talk the talk, but we rarely walk the walk.  We scarcely inconvenience our own lives, or move our own feet enough to be real reflections of our cyber selves.  We’re virtual saints, but nothing about that can actually be felt by human skin.

Just the opposite, however, is true about Be The Change Boutique owners, Ashley and Ashleigh.  When first landing on their website, before taking in the array of cute tops, jewelry, and other odds and ends, a famous Ghandi quote travels the screen.  It reads, “be the change you want to see in the world.”  And in Ashley and Ashleigh’s case, they’ve done it.  They earn the right to tout the well-known phrase every day, and they’re doing so from a tiny shop hidden in a slight-framed cranny on King street.

The two entrepreneurs, who have been besties since sharing a cubby in the first grade, sell merchandise with a mission.  They only carry lines of apparel, accessories, and knick knacks that give back.  They feature lines that provide aid to underprivileged men, women, and children around the globe, right here from the cobblestone streets of Chucktown.  Among their favorite lines is “The Stitch,” a simple $5 roll of distinct orange thread meant to be sewn on clothing items to raise awareness about sexual abuse.  A subject often taboo, the stitch starts a conversation about how important it is for such victims to obtain therapy and support to take their lives back.  Proceeds of “stitch” sales fund counseling for sexually abused people from all walks of life, and was founded by a man who owes his very existence to the recovery he was able to achieve in therapy.  How can we all not want to get behind that?

I first met Ash-ley/leigh duo just before Christmas when they hosted a benefit to collect toys for the children’s hospital at MUSC.  I was humbled by these women immediately, and had to know their story. I asked Ashley number 1 where her inspiration to take on such a project came from.  She passionately told me stories of how she was so affected by the people of Uganda on a trip in her early twenties, and how they use craftsmanship to make money for their communities.  She eagerly praised the other Ashleigh for hopping on a plane at a moment’s notice, and uprooting a life in Maui to start the venture with almost no questions asked.  She spoke of it as though it was a no-brainer for both of them.  You just do good where you see the chance to do it.  But, what I see are two hearts of gold.  Without a profound empathy for others, the loudest calling will never be heard.  If people do not care, they do not respond.  But not with these two; the horn sounded, and they came running with arms open.

I implore this amazing LowCountry community to stand with these women.  Let’s support this boutique when we stroll down King Street.  Let’s not only look fabulous on the outside, but also on the inside.  And let’s do this without the goal of feeling good, but doing good.  Let’s lace up our shoes, lay down the signs, and actually act.  Let our dollars go to educate, elevate, and emancipate.  Ashley and Ashleigh have the lantern in hand, lighting a great path.  They shine brightly, from their hearts over their wallets. The light, so strong, has reached out and warmed my skin, the seeped into, all the way to my heart.

by Lorna Hollifield

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Visit 218 King and see for yourself!

Visit http://www.bethechangeboutique.com

https://www.facebook.com/bethechangeboutique/

 

The Camelback Scar

It was hot…very hot.  Maybe if Spring had arrived on time in North Carolina instead of playing hooky until mid-April, I would have been more prepared for the Arizona heat.  However, late-March was still being pretty cruel to the southern states.  A sixty-degree day was looking pretty sexy.

The day we decided to climb Camelback Mountain, the giant pile of rocks that pops out of nowhere upon entering Scottsdale, the sun rose laughing at us.  It knew our destinies, even if we didn’t.  I assumed it would be fine…after all, I’m from the land of humidity.  I’d take the dry heat and leave it crying like a little girl when I was through.  I’d been going to the Pure Barre Studio for two months now, and was feeling pretty cocky about my lower body strength too.  I threw on some yoga pants, a hat, and a smile.  I was going to go walk the little trail, with my little smart water in hand and have a dandy day.  I was already thinking ahead to what kind of beer I’d grab afterwards.  A good day loomed.

My husband and I had ventured out west to visit a friend and her husband while he was in Spring Training.  My friend, Susan, my husband, Kimsey, and I decided to hike one day instead of go to the game.  We started trotting up the ankle of Camelback, swinging our iPhones, chatting about where we’d be eating dinner later, already salivating over the famed butter cake. 

It got a little steeper, and we panted a little bit, as expected.  The conversation started trailing, and we were feeling a little proud we were now conquering the tourist attraction, breaking our tiny sweats.  We got to the first overlook, patted ourselves on the back, and took our first rounds of pictures.  Honestly, I thought our mini journey was almost over.  Then I look over and see Susan, perusing a sign with her eyes widening underneath her aviators.

“What?”  I mosey over.

“Holy shit,” she scoffs pointing to our only warning.

I then reviewed the sign informing me that about 75 people per year get rescued off the mountain, that it only gets harder from here, and that I should be carrying with me about ten safety items I did not have.  I glanced down at my sports bra that supported my phone more than anything and looked over at my husband who held the bottle of water the three of us were sharing.  I then took inventory of the little chart that showed how steep things would get.  It looked like a line graph of Mark Cuban’s income stream.

“Umm-Can we do this?” I asked wondering if we were insane.

Somehow we decide we can, and while putting the rising temperature out of our heads, begin the real journey. The first truly scary stretch we came to went practically straight up and touted a slick metal hand rail for us to hoist ourselves with.  I didn’t know if I could or would do this.  I was no experienced hiker.  Frankly, I was afraid.  Somehow, at the same time, I was more afraid of turning around and starting back down that mountain like so many others were.  So, I just started doing it. My hands were sweaty and at one point I thought I would fall backward and boosted myself off another man’s shoe while my husband pulled me up by the arm.  After that, I got a newfound strength.  I just wasn’t going to be afraid.

I climbed several more segments of uphill formations, surveying which rocks to grab, and deciding whether to go upright or on hands and knees. I drifted from right to left, deciding which side would accept me.  I coughed sand out of my lungs and embraced the sharp stones that attempted to leave their marks on my shins.  I no longer thought of the summit, or why I’d come in the first place.  I just thought of the moment, where I was, where to put my foot, and the strange pleasure it gave me the harder it was.  I was disappointed and exhilarated at once each time the trek worsened.   I wanted it to be hard.  I wanted to get marred.  I wanted to sweat.  I wanted to raise hell right back at the sun, and I wanted it to hurt.  I was climbing of the hump of the camel’s unforgiving back now.

This attitude wasn’t like me.  I’m not the girl who camps in the wilderness, or jumps into dark water.  I don’t climb rocks or go on solo kayaking trips.  I don’t do these things.  However, now that I was, I hoped it was tough.  I wanted to wrestle it to the ground, and know it was something real, and that not everyone could do it.

After nearly two hours of the grueling voyage I’d made it to the top.  I bent over, put my hands on the knees, just panting.  When I could breathe again, I remembered I had a prize waiting, and stood up to enjoy the view that would be my reward.  It was an amazing view.  It was a view of hustle an bustle, people hugging, taking pictures.  People chugging out of their canteens. People scurrying.  People who were alive.

The scenery was to die for.  I could see for forever…rock formations, clouds, never-ending skies, but that didn’t do it for me.  I saw people reaching goals, accomplishing something. I saw people proving they could do something tough, and extraordinary. I saw people refusing to quit.  I saw Susan jumping up and down, and my husband conquering his fear of heights.  I saw success.

I’m not a great outdoorsman.  I probably won’t set my sights on Everest.  What I am though, is a go-getter.  I’m a writer who had another experience that made her remember she CAN.  I’m not staring at the summit of the writing world, but I’m not at the bottom either.  I’m somewhere in the middle, in the momentum, in the rocks of Camelback guessing which rocks are the sturdy ones, and I’m going to keep on.  It leads somewhere…I know.  I’ve been to a different form of that place…same kind of battle.  The very same, and I slayed that camel. 

I have a little wound left on my right ankle where a rock scraped me.  It’s a scar less than an inch long.  People laugh when I show them my Camelback injury.  I love it though, because it’s a part of Camelback I carry around.  It’s my souvenir…that it was hard, it hurt a little, and that it was worth it. I realized I want to be a collector of scars, more than anything.  And being a writer, that’s a good thing to be ok with…I guess that goes for really wanting anything.  I hope everyone goes and gets themselves a Camelback kind of scar.

     

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Uphill battle!

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Wow

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Me in the mountainside:)

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We made it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pura Vida

There is so much I could say about Costa Rica…you know, the typical things everyone knows:  the black sand was unbelievable, the rainforest was a presence to be reckoned with, you must try the zip-lining…blah, blah, blah dinner party talk.  I could focus on those things, which I’m in no way trying to disrespect (because they were indeed all I hoped for), but other things stood out to me more.  It wasn’t the sunset cruise or horseback ride that got me…it was our last night on the beach at the end of the adventures when the real one started.

Though Costa Rica is incredible, aside from some unique rock formations, there’s nothing particularly aesthetically special about most of the beach in Tamarindo.  Once away from the volcanic rock, the sand is brown, and the water a little murky.  The Caribbean beaches would chew it up and spit it out along with the ones I’m accustomed to up and down the Carolina coasts.  Maybe this is why the beach there made me feel home to begin with. 

It isn’t a perfect paradise by text book definition.  It is something else though…this is a beach with diapered gold-skinned babies decorating the sand with tiny footprints.  This is a beach with dogs diving into the water chasing sticks thrown by whomever might have one.  It is a place people speak to one another…a place where surfers hide from the things they left somewhere on another planet similar to where I’m from.  I didn’t quite realize how immersed I wanted to be until that last night.

My legs were still sore from riding my bike everyday, something I hadn’t done in at least 15 years.  My two girlfriends and I had gotten to the beach a little later than we’d hoped, trying for a ” hail Mary” in the tanning department.  However, it was just a little too late in the afternoon, and we knew it.  We found ourselves getting bored and a little put off at the lack of sunlight when we went to drown the humidity at the shoreline.  I don’t know which of our husbands barreled the football our directions, splashing us with the cool Pacific water, but that’s what started it.  Somehow this led to one of us getting tackled, then it was a game of three prissy girls playing against 3 guys who were suddenly 16 again.

We forgot about wanting a tan, protecting designer swimsuits, or bitching about getting a little sand on us.  Instead we sank into the laughter around us, became only our spirits, and let Tamarindo have us.  One of my girlfriends went back to her childhood with two brothers and found her grit again.  She laughed in the face of her blonde highlights, and scoffed at her frilly bathing suit top.  Another friend, the one with the long sexy legs, ventured back to a time when those legs were scraped up and a little gangly and used them like a spider-monkey would when trying to tackle our husbands.  I could see her running around in the dirt after cheerleading practice at her grandmothers farm again.  Neither of my friends were mothers right now, even though they are incredible ones; they were just knobby-kneed, sand-covered beings without any responsibility.

I’m the shortest of all of them, and probably come in a close second to spider-monkey-legs for prissiest.  However, my inner-child showed up too.  I remembered the only summer I decided to be a tomboy.  It was the year my Aunt took me to a braves game and bought me a ball cap to wear.  I wore it backwards with my long blonde hair that I didn’t know how to fix properly flowing from underneath…I was about 10.  On the beach I became her, the girl I was the summer of the braves hat when I climbed trees, got stung by a caterpillar, and held my own trying to beat up my bigger cousins.  I would just focus on looking little and non-aggressive while staying low to the ground and gritty.  Tamarindo did this to me again at nearly 28 years old.  I was hitting our husbands at shin-height and knocking there legs out from under them like a little gremlin.  That’s who I really am anyway.

Costa Rica gave me a gift that doesn’t come in abundance.  The vibe there alone woke my friends and myself up inside in our purest places.   We got the relaxation we wanted, but it didn’t come in the form of rum punch on the beach.  It came by taking us back to that child-like place which is the only one we are ever that free.  We got the adventure we wanted with proudly-worn scrapes and bruises to prove it.  Costa Rica was beautiful no doubt, but the greatest part was getting a little bit of something we didn’t even know we missed back. 

We played until the sun went down, turning the water gold then black.  When we knew it had to be over I think everyone felt a nostalgic lump trying to shack up with their tonsils.  However, we’d bonded like kids in the summertime, and we knew at least we would always have Tamarindo.    ~pura vida~

 

Susan, Lorna (me-in hat), Kasey

Susan, Lorna (me-in hat), Kasey

Apologies to Carolina

I wanted out.  I didn’t care where; I just wanted to be anywhere but here.  I was about 17 when I really started to itch.  Like the rest of my friends, I was college-bound and fantasizing about how all my dreams would come true.  Most of all, I knew that whatever was going to make my dreams come true was not here.  It was not in North Carolina, and most certainly was not rolled up somewhere in the dust of these small-town roads I’d sped up and down throughout my teen years.  My destiny was somewhere in a foreign land without air conditioning where I would have to wear interesting, airy clothing, and take up a new language.  My artistic hub could not, would not be in the old rugged hills of some deep mountain range tucked in the southern states of America. I would flourish somewhere else.

I owe North Carolina my deepest, and most sincere apology.  I was wrong about you.  I’ve travelled European countries, that have given me a taste of the foundations of who I am, and the foundations  of art.  I’ve travelled down the sweaty streets of Caribbean islands, buying unique treasures from the village children.  I’ve been up north and out west to different parts of the country, finding differences in the land and people who make me curious.  I’ve lived in a couple different cities…but I came back to you.  I came back to the tiny town of Candler, North Carolina, just over the hill from Asheville.  You are the true love I never got over, and my true parent.  I never thought you would be the place I call home, and the place I fall into the arms of, but you are.  You gave me a place to rest my head as an infant, you gave me an education, you gave me a husband, and you gave me all of my writing material.  I couldn’t leave for forever because you have me all mixed up in your dirt.  I am so sorry I ran your name through the mud, mocked your intelligence, and refused to see that mystic beauty for so long.  I’m sorry, my beloved Carolina…

I’ve had these thoughts a few times before…before I was quite ready to apologize.  I’d have a nostalgic tug here or there, knowing my home place was tapping me on the shoulder.  However it came upon me with an entrancing perfume when I noticed the grapes were in at my grandmother’s house.  I trotted down the hill from my mother’s to pick some fresh ones off the vine.  I squeezed the fruit into my mouth and became as filled with sweet, bare foot memories, as I had the purple nectar.  My beginnings came rushing at me again by way of a grape-vine, next to the stump of a tree I used to climb.  I was standing in the place I would play and dream..the place I got my first material, make believing story lines.  After all, when children dream they are just writing stories without a pen.

A couple of days later I was out with friends and met the niece of one of my long time friends.  Her niece is from California, and at nine years old couldn’t help but remark on all the space, and land around her. 

She asked me, “What’s that sticky stuff in the air?”

“That would be humidity,” I replied, with a chuckle, knowing that sticky stuff was part of me too.

I felt connected to this little girl somehow…maybe it was because she abruptly spoke her mind, or was so prissy.  Maybe it was because I could see her connecting with her atmosphere so much, but it was something.  Whatever it was, it made me appreciate my homeland even more.  I was blessed to have been brought up running all over these fields she admired and felt so free in.  I had to apologize to Carolina again.

I asked her, “Emily, do you write?”

“No.  I hate writing.  It makes me think of school, and I hate school,” she said in the typical nine-year-old fashion.

“But you’re doing it right now.  When you’re communicating to me, or outside make-believing you’re doing it.  You just don’t know it,” I replied thinking back to eating grapes by my old tree.

She kind of smiled at me, not insisting she just hated it.  I actually think she knew what I meant.  Maybe  she’ll still hate writing, or maybe she’ll like it a little more now.  I don’t know, but Carolina touched her, and touched me too.  There’s something so wonderful about this place, and it is exactly where my dreams will come true.  I’m sorry Carolina for what I’ve done, but I will never betray you again.

Night Swimming

Night swimming: That thing you do on summer nights when the dampness is so far-reaching, you’re soaked before you ever get in the pool.  It is a compulsion caused by the beckoning waters under the stars on humid nights that only a chorus of crickets have not fallen victim to.  It is a thing most appropriate on a July night somewhere in Dixie, preferably in a small town full of people with dreams sweeter than the tea.

I went night swimming every time the moon showed its big round face this past weekend.  My family and I popped down to Charleston, South Carolina as we frequently do.  It’s just a four-hour trot down I-26 from the Blue Ridge Mountains I call home.  I traded my muddy water holes for the ocean and a hotel pool for a much-needed few days out-of-town.

July is quite unforgiving in the low country.  It has a nasty intention to suffocate everyone in a smothering, foggy hug.  It even uses rainstorms to produce more steam to confuse the senses of anyone in its devious throes.  Oh how I love it…

I thought it couldn’t get any better than putting on a slightly too small swimsuit that I can’t pull off in the daytime to swim in that refreshing pool water at midnight, but I was wrong.  Though I enjoyed splashing around in the cool, safe water, laughing and horse playing with my husband like when we were teenagers, another night swim comes to mind with an even better memory.

My grandfather passed away in 2007.  He was a character unlike anyone I’ve ever met.  Anything free or playful about me comes from his genes clogging wildly about, like he would at the community stompin’ grounds, somewhere in my veins.  My memories of him, with his dark, Cherokee looks, dressed in a Santa’s costume at Christmas never fail to cheer me up.  If I lay quietly enough I can hear his hearty laugh, and almost see his big pot belly bouncing up and down from under his always-stained white undershirt.  I can hear the laughter of the other grandchildren and myself while he pulled us around in the wagon attached to his riding mower…and this past weekend I was reminded of one of my favorite memories of him…night swimming.

My cousins had come down to the beach for a day and we were walking on the beach at sundown.  My cousin’s husband was hellbent on getting in the water because he’d barely been to the beach in his life.  I was telling him that the night is the worst time to get in because it’s when the jelly fish come out and the undertow strengthens.  He didn’t care.  He was at the beach, and he was getting in.  I stood on the shore with my other family members thinking he was crazy.  I stood shaking my head at him in that prudent adult way I remember my mother doing when I was a child…until I remembered.

About 20 years earlier, when I was six or seven years old, my grandfather met us at Hilton Head Island.  He didn’t arrive until the sun had already set for the evening, but much like an eager child, he could not wait to get in the surf.  His shirt came off, exposing his big belly, and before I could blink, he was diving into a breaking wave.

“I want to get in,”  I pleaded with my mother.

“No, Lorna, it’s too late.  Something might happen,” my mother replied while my grandfather motioned to me from the sea.

I took off anyway, not caring what my mother had said.  I joined Papaw in the water, giggling all the while, forgetting sharks or jellyfish exist.

When I stood on the shore at 26 years old I suddenly realized I owed it to him to let that free spirit out.  My shoes and jewelry came off in a flash.  My hands were in the air, and I was running, horse laughing, into the murky water.  I fell into the first wave giggling as I had so long ago while my family applauded from the shore, remembering what I had just remembered.  I came out of the water and took my young seven-year-old cousin’s hand.  She was two when Papaw passed, and only remembers a glimpse of him on his death-bed.  It was up to me for her to know what kind of freedom pulses through her body, that is tanned eerily in his likeness.  I reached my hand out, and she stepped back, afraid to give her chances to the dark, black, water.

“Do it for Papaw,” I said plainly, looking into her big brown eyes.

She bit her lip a little before taking my hand and shouting into the night sky with me.  We ran as fast as we could into the tide, letting in rock us to and fro.  We were now water-logged in our street clothes, and having the time of our lives.

That’s a night swim I’ll never forget.  The tears and laughter played together that night, and again each time I recall it.  I’m so blessed to have shared that part of me, and that part of him with another generation.  I was blessed by the night, the water, and the sand all over again.  I can still feel it stinging my sticky skin, a sting that is always with me, erupting with the best kind of emotions…the kind that comes from letting my hair down, remembering times gone by, and ignoring adulthood for a moment…night swimming.

The Heat

I’ve recently noticed certain areas of the country seem to be artistic hot spots, with an “it” factor bubbling beneath the surface.  Because of the juice radiating out, they become meccas for artists, musicians, and writers.  I started pondering what creates these locations that the arts orbit around like the sun.  They cannot be chosen at random; it can’t be a matter of chance when it comes to such greatness.  I started thinking about the places that make me feel that energy, and they have one thing in common…heat.

When I say a place has heat, I don’t necessarily mean temperature, though a warm climate usually is the case.  I mean the place radiates a fusion of controversy, history, hurt, love, and soul. That’s why many of these places are southern cities.  I’m thinking of two places in particular:  Asheville, North Carolina and Austin, Texas.

I was born and raised in Asheville, a place that was once only a patch of dirt in a misty valley marking the crossroads of two Cherokee Indian trails.  The Europeans checked it out, along with the rest of The South in the 16th century, but the Appalachian town wasn’t born until the late 1700’s.  Soon enough the new settlers pointed the natives towards the trail of tears to Oklahoma and took the land for themselves after being drawn to the scenic landscape.  I would say Asheville’s first heartache was the day of its birth when it was pried out of the hands of it’s inhabitants.

After becoming a hub for 19th century sanitariums and wellness centers, the area attracted a little more attention.  However, it wasn’t enough, and the city suffered.  When the stock market crashed in ’29, Asheville had the most debt per capita of any city in America.  Therefore, the beautiful art deco buildings, mostly built after the Civil War, were preserved because the town couldn’t afford upgrades.  On accident, and due to poor financial management, the buildings themselves became art, and are now a rarity in the United States.  There came the architects, artists, and tourists.  There came the livelihood.  Art.

Now the heat pumps out of Ashevlle from the inside out.  It pulls in abstract thinkers like an insatiable magnet, thirsty to connect with everything around it.  It’s a vibe, and I swear it’s stronger on hot summer days…

Now there is Austin, Texas.  I visited there for the first time just last week.  I’d heard so much about the city’s music scene and was anxious to check it out.  Home to artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, the blues is a staple of the musical society.  I knew it would be interesting, but I didn’t know that whatever that presence was down there, would be so tangible.  I did know however that the blues is something a little more regal than other music, because it literally gnaws its way out of the soul.  I should have known there would be something surreal there, caught in that beautiful area that lives somewhere in the middle of happy and sad.

It was 90 degrees at eight o’clock at night of 6th Street.  People were hustling and bustling, and something sweet in the air was sticking to my skin.  Maybe that’s what humidity in The South is…it’s the magic in the air reaching out to grab us, not letting us go.  It was in the air that night.

I walked down the cracked sidewalks, staring at old buildings that made me forget I wasn’t in Asheville, hearing different brands of blues pulsing from every street corner.  Smoke came out of every bar, but I didn’t smell one cigarette.  I’d almost swear on all that’s holy that it was the music floating out like an apparition, but I won’t go that far.  Whatever it was; it was mysterious.  It stirred up feelings that don’t really have words, which is why I suppose, not all artists write.  Some of them just have to slide their fingers up and down the seductive neck of a six string to convey the whisperings in the air around them.  It can only be felt, not retold.  It was all over Austin, and had me sweating it out of my skin.

That feeling is what makes art so intriguing.  It’s why the heat is better than the cold.  Heat makes us lose our minds, stir up emotions that most have the good sense to leave untouched, strip naked, and make something real cry out of us in some art form or another.  It’s hot because it’s always moving, always picking up steam, and is so far gone that it will never cool down.

A Good Day

     Everyone has a place in their head…a little golden room, an oasis-like cathedral where they scurry off to when times get rough, or the winter gets too cold.  Life offers us fewer chances to create these “happy place” memories than we’d like, but when they happen we hang on to the sweetness until we’re many years and many miles away from them.  They often happen far from the place we lay our heads at night, which is part of the reason they help us escape reality so well…the sought after, excruciatingly rare…perfect day.

     I recently returned home from a wonderful Caribbean vacation that graced me with one of these days.  I was a little leery of the place when we first docked in Cozumel, Mexico.  I’d heard so many stories of drug wars, and a general hatred of Americans in this area that I was certain I wouldn’t have a good time.  Nevertheless, we booked an excursion with an attempt to make the best of what we thought would be a nerve-wracking port.  However, to my surprise, I made a memory that will make me smile for years to come.

     We began our adventure in a shabby old jeep, which my husband nearly made love to after driving. He and my friend’s husband took turns dashing down dirt roads, hydro-planing over huge mud puddles, and skidding in sideways to our destinations.  We girls screamed and laughed in the back seat as the dirt and water flew into the vehicle threatening to wreck our perfect bathing suits.  The sun knew no cloud that day and the wind rushing into the jeep tempered the delightful sting of the sun.  The salt from the ocean danced in the air, and palm trees rustled in every turn.  The atmosphere was flawless.

     Our first stop was a cave that twisted and turned into mysterious caverns that the Mayans once explored.  Fossils of sea creatures, and ancient markings were all about the walls.  Deep within, there was a large natural mineral pool with the bluest water I’d ever laid eyes on.  We squealed as we plunged into the freezing, purifying waters before scrubbing our bodies with a mineral rich blend from the depths of the hidden pool.  The stalactites and stalagmites framed the close quarters and worked together to create a wonder world unlike anything I’d ever been a part of…it was pure magic.

     After the cave, we hopped back into the rugged road vessel and sped to Playa de Carmen, where the water rivaled the hue of a blue topaz ring in my jewelry box.  We laid in the white sand, sunning our bodies on the edge of the Yucatan Peninsula, before cooling off in the mesmerizing sea.  We ate authentic Mexican cuisine and enjoyed fruity drinks the guys would be embarrassed to admit they partook of…any cares I had were sitting on a shelf somewhere in Asheville, NC…they certainly weren’t here.

    It was a good day.  Even the sight of Mexican Police standing out of the sun roof of a tank-like vehicle with automatic weapons didn’t shake me after all I’d done that day.  The day was a gift, and I’d feel sorry for whatever the reasons were for the ominous law enforcement parade another day.  I was given one of those days I can fly away to with the flutter of an eyelid whenever I choose.  I hope everyone, and I suppose most do, have days like this that make the other days feel a little softer.  I hope people have days like this to remember the existence of grace, the presence of an oasis, and the excitement of days to come.  I hope everyone reading this has a smile on his or her face right now, feeling a nostalgic tug towards a time far behind them.  I hope you are in that memory now, smiling and saying to yourself, “that was a good day.”