My first apartment was a loft one-bedroom in a building that had a wrought iron gate with an intercom. The intercom was so cool. I could buzz people in. Oh, those were the days. Technology was raging back then. My apartment was on the second floor, it’s window visible from the central courtyard. The bedroom was up three steps just inside the entryway. From my bed I could look over a half wall into the kitchen.
I never, ever cooked salmon in that kitchen. Or brussel sprouts, broccoli, or eggplant. That last one was simply because I never warmed up to eggplant.
The living area was at the end of a long hallway that ran past my bedroom and the kitchen, dumping into a square box of a living room that breathed only because of a double height ceiling. It was made cool by one brick wall. I loved that wall. Couldn’t hang a painting on it, but it made me feel hip.
This was no dorm room.
My idea of a great house plant was a cactus. My love affair with the cactus (I have a tattoo of one on my left oblique) was because it never let me down – meaning I couldn’t kill it, and it wasn’t indigenous, so, again, it made me feel hip. Having one in my home was essential, although according to feng shui principles, prickly plants in the house equals no happy house.
Feng shui was only cool in Asia back then.
While shopping at the mecca for furnishing one’s first apartment, Ikea, I purchased a cactus for my first ‘home’. I probably also ate some meatballs. And then wondered why I had to blow my nose a thousand times and likely considered the rash to be the result of nerves about moving into my first grown-up home.
I lugged my 2 foot cactus through the wrought iron gate, up the outdoor stairs, into the entryway of my rehabbed warehouse apartment building, and clutched it tight as the persnickety elevator bounced up one floor. Once inside my rockin’ single chick pad, I brought it to its new home, on the floor against the counter area that separated the tiny galley kitchen from the living room. It shared space with one dark blue velvet couch, shaped like a giant sea shell complete with ottoman, and one futon.
Who didn’t have a futon then? C’mon, you know you did. There were stores that sold nothing but futons. We must have all had one.
An aside…I have to share a most hilarious story about my futon. Technically, this wasn’t my first apartment, but it was my first one that wasn’t a studio – a kind word for prison cell. Studio does not equal apartment. It equals compartment. I didn’t have to furnish it, I simply had to grin and bear it. But it did come complete with a killer view of a beautiful city park; my floor populated with women who, when having their hair colored, asked for a particular shade of blue. I loved that place.
My college roommate, who I have recently reconnected with and comments here under the name Pineapple Chick (another epically hilarious story that I will share one day), and I painted the town beer and retired to my cell with takeout omelets. Please, don’t ask.
The cell had one chair, albeit the coolest ever – my Dad’s wing back chair that I have to this day and cherish like no other possession, and the futon. So, after we scarfed down our omelets in and around 3 AM, we chose not wash our faces, but did disrobe. Completely. Then we face-planted the futon, moons to the ceiling and
passed out fell asleep. Covers? They’re for sober people.
Ahhh, morning. As the sun peered into my abode, so did the window washer.
We awoke to the squeak of squeegee on glass. With the help of an imaginary crane, we lifted our heads and looked out the window, directly into the face of a very happy man. His smile was as broad as our backsides, which he had ample opportunity to digest.
Perhaps we should have taken notice of the piece of paper slipped under my door announcing his early morning arrival, and suggesting that the shades be lowered to insure privacy. I consider it a gift from us to him. He had the look of a man who had just received a present. Happy, happy, all the way around. Karma points banked. Cha-ching.
But back to the cactus…
There it sat, in a place so imperfect, given the potential for harm. There was no warning that one could round the bend from the hallway and run smack into hundreds of needles.
It was in this apartment that I had my first date with The Genius. Sometime soon after that date, we were making dinner (baked chicken with tarragon – I cannot believe I remember that) and hanging out in my whopping couple hundred square feet when I noticed a third guest.
A supremely tiny snail which clung to an arm of the cactus. I was infatuated. I had many pets growing up, but this was my first grown-up pet. And here he lived for weeks before I noticed him! Hence, the reason why cacti are good plants for me to nurture. And I use the term nurture loosely. Very.
We were on our knees staring at this tiny, perfect little being. So fragile. So clingy. Such a breath of fresh nature in a city.
I touched him with the very tip of my index finger. He fell to the dirt.
I scooped him up, with my pinkie, and cradled him like an infant. I’m certain I thought, Our first pet!
I saved that little dead snail. On The Genius’ birthday, the first one we celebrated together, I had a small, silver bird cage made, the snail captured inside, strung it with leather, and hung it on his neck. We were on a date in Los Angeles. Six weeks later we would be engaged.
We proceeded on warp speed while that little snail bounced, trapped in its cage until it was tossed in a drawer.
This memory came flooding back at sunrise today. The tall dude had crawled into my bed at some time during the night. As my alarm quietly buzzed, I stirred and sensed his presence. A dim, early morning light made its way into the room, illuminating his angelic face. He was on his tummy, me on mine (I still sleep moon to the sky), our heads turned toward each other. I studied him.
A perfect way to start the day – grateful.
I turned on my back and looked out the window at the foot of the bed. Literally at the foot of the bed. I have a large bed crammed in a compact room. The curtains were parted, framing the hills in the distance; still dark, shrouded in fog. As the light strengthened, a figure emerged on the glass. A thin leaf, perhaps. Or a thick pine needle.
A minute later I saw the belly, (technically a foot), and then the horns. A snail. A tiny snail. Just the perfect size for a tiny, silver bird cage.
And then I remembered what I wrote in the last post – I have to move less like Jagger and more like a garden snail.
And then I remembered the snail I hung around The Genius’ neck.
That moment seemed so empty to me as I lay in the bed watching the snail not move.
It was the first time I felt (and acknowledged?) regret. Had I slowed down, paced myself with the snail, I might have made a different choice in mate. Maybe not better, but different. Which implies a shot at better. Maybe he would still be laying by my side, wearing not a snail around his neck, but me.
I looked at the tall dude. You know what I felt. It was so very worth it. Best investment ever. The dudes are a perfect fit for me.
But I definitely felt some regret.
On Sunday I decided I was going to make this week all about the magic. In every encounter, every interaction, I would seek magic. So, the memories of our first pet were pushed aside for the here and now, without losing the message sent by the snail.
I’ve been hyper-conscious of staying present, and allowing my natural happiness and joy to diffuse any negativity that may stumble in my direction this week. (I couldn’t possibly attract it, being so positively charged and all…) This effort would most certainly result in Unicorns jumping over That Man and galloping off into a solar eclipse hung from a rainbow.
Instead, it’s been a peaceful week dotted with small but memorable moments of joy. Brokering dude peace, introducing new vegetables and surviving, sweeping the floor each day. A spectacular swim under ink-black clouds parting to show a bottom heavy moon, and one in the morning as the fog lifted and the birds banked the hills en masse, always one in the group fighting to take the lead. A few encounters with The Genius that were just part of my day. A chance to live having let go.
As each hour ticked by I felt more grounded. More grounded than I’ve been in a long time. The most accurate description would actually be most grounded ever.
So I must be on the cusp of something massively magical. I’ve earned it! I touched elbows with The Genius at the local Christmas tree lighting ceremony and did not care. Not didn’t flinch. Not skin didn’t crawl off and run away. Simply did not care.
Something big is imminent. I’m ticking things off my to do list, staying in the moment, eyes wide, waiting for the big it to unfold.
But, so far, it’s been just fun. Simple fun. No big hassles, lots of play for the boys and me, and for just me. It’s been a really balanced week. Easy-going. I even was fortunate enough to experience a hike from Mill Valley to the German Tourist House with a most delightful kitten, taking in that Marin wonder for the first time.
Did I mention I managed to sweep the floor each day?
As tonight’s post percolated in my core, I lamented that I didn’t have some sparkly magical moment to share that would prove to the world that focusing on finding magic results in experiencing big magic – hilarious encounters leading to remarkable connections, then shot off to ponder the neon signs from the Universe…at dawn the moment of realization. None of that Hollywood happened to me. Just a lot of little perfect moments.
Capped off by finding this quote on Wildspeak when I took the time this evening to refresh my memory on the messages of the snail:
“Life isn’t always about the big events, but instead, the smaller moments where you notice a great sleeping position, a new way of preparing dinner, a tendril of life shooting out of some local soil.”
Before turning off the alarm this morning, I lay as I woke; on my stomach, my right leg bent at the knee, left hand under the pillow which held my head, right hand under my right hip bone, face turned to the side, and I thought to myself,
This is the best sleeping position ever.
And now, as I get ready to assume that position again, I thank the snail, for this pace suits me. It’s helping me to see what needs to happen more clearly. What my priorities are and how I am going to achieve my goals. It champions the quiet magic. The magic of Winter. The weeks have slowed. The clouds and rain have rolled in. I’m remembering more of the little details. Laughing at the smallest of funny moments.
And the absolute best part?
I’m okay with slow and steady progress. It’s a more comfortable pace. It gives me a chance to ponder. And absorb. Learn.
This is so new to me. I’ve had my struggles with slow.
I bet I look back in the not-too-distant future and see that all these tiny moments of magic led to one colossal magic juncture with a choice to be made. This time, no regrets.