Thursday, December 30, 2010

All or Nothing.

"I don't want to leave" she said under her visibly cold breath as the two of us walked slowly towards the snow covered car. "you're telling me" I replied sadly as I grabbed the snow scraper and began to pick away at the ice frozen to our windshield. It was 5:45 am on Monday morning and we were heading back to the city and back to reality. As my roommate and I pulled out of the driveway and turned onto the road that would lead us home, I looked behind me and caught one last glimpse of the beautiful house in all it's glory, and I couldn't help but think about the people sleeping soundly within it's massive walls.

The two of us showed up that Friday night like we always do. Praying that we were at the right house, we burst through the front doors dancing and singing, interrupting an all-house board game and probably terrifying the souls of the fifteen people we had yet to meet who were also attending the weekend getaway in Keystone, Colorado. It had been a long, late evening drive up to the mountains for us when the highway was closed due to strong winds and low visibility. There was actually a point when we contemplated turning around and heading home, "It might not be worth it" we said, going back and forth, weighing our options before deciding to ultimately wait out the storm and continue on. "All or nothing" we thought as we braved the blizzard and blared the radio. Two hours and many snowy miles later we found ourselves in that warm kitchen, surrounded by the remnants of a family-style dinner and a room full of complete strangers. Over the next hour, introductions were made, drinks were poured, and we began to settle into a weekend that would come to be something so much more than the casual ski trip we all initially thought it would be.

Saturday morning I woke up to a warm fireplace and the most beautiful snow capped mountains I have seen in a long time. I also woke up to a strange feeling, and contrary to my first belief, it was not just a hangover. The night before had brought board games and vodka tonics, but it had also brought some of the best conversations I have had in a long time and as I recounted the night's events, I realized that in a matter of hours and during one long hot tubbing session, I had become extremely close with the people who were nothing but strangers to me hours before. In the midst of snow ball fights and kitchen dance parties I had found such a comfort in hearing the stories of these perfect strangers and for some reason or another, had felt completely free to tell them my story as well.

I have come to find that people most definitely enter into your life for a reason. Through strong friendships, broken relationships and a lot of small talk with randoms, it is obvious that you can take something away from every person you meet if you really listen to them. In this case, I could not have been more different than most of the people I shared the weekend with. They had years on me, not to mention life experience. Hearing about their struggles, their life choices and the things they had done to get them where they are today made me wonder how and why in God's name it was that our paths had crossed in that town, on that weekend. It was as if everything that had happened in our lives before we met, occurred for a reason and led us up to that exact point, that exact moment in time in Keystone. Regardless of the trials and triumphs we had all been through on our own, fate or something like it brought us together, merged our stories and taught me that when you least expect it, someone will teach you something that will change you.

Friday night I sat across from strangers, Saturday night I sat across from friends, and on Sunday night I'm pretty sure I shared a chair with someone that had become somewhat of a family member and come the end of the weekend, leaving them sounded absolutely miserable. Extending our trip an extra night and slowly killing ourselves with a 5:30am wake up call on Monday morning in order to make it back for work, my roommate and I desperately tried to hold on to as much of the weekend as we could, to squeeze everything possible out of it. Driving back to the city, we sipped on coffee and debriefed the weekend. As we watched the sun rise over the mountains, it's first rays dancing on the snow and sparkling across our eyes I thought back to the conversations had and the friendships that resulted from them. I wondered where the relationships would go and whether I would ever see my new -found friends again. And as we made our way through the snowy pass, I remembered just how close we were to giving into the storm and bagging the whole weekend on the way up, and I really couldn't have been any happier that in the end we chose all instead of nothing.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Cup of Life.

"I miss you and I miss our old life" the text read. And as I sat day dreaming about the life I once led, my thoughts drifted to the infamous Montmartre, an artist's paradise and my favorite district in Paris. After recalling the busy scenery, the sweet smells and the sounds of the ever-so smooth French language, my mind came to rest on a small table outside a quaint cafe. There, my memory stopped and focused in on one cup of coffee and one cup of tea.

A lot can happen in 365 days. I realize the weight of this statement as I sit alone with a cup of coffee at the antique white dining table in my new home in a new city. Time is interesting in that minutes and days can pass so slowly, yet weeks and months so quickly. And while the time is passing so are the moments, the experiences and the memories. It is hard for me to comprehend exactly how certain memories can stay so fresh in your mind, while others fade silently into the background. Which ones take precedence over the others and how do you subconsciously choose the ones that last?

It was a brisk day in France when we stumbled across that little cafe. Wandering through the busy streets with no agenda and no time limit, we had become increasingly drunk off the French culture, the history, the beauty and maybe just a little tipsy off the wine we had been sampling all afternoon. Dodging yet another artist begging to sketch us for a "special price", we quickly turned a corner and found ourselves in a square that we could have only ever imagined in our dreams. Naturally, wanting to spend as much time as possible in this little pocket of perfection we jumped on an opportunity to sit at a small outside table amongst the bright colors and bustling crowd. It was here that we laughed when placing our order, realizing that living together for five months had made both of us too predictable. One cup of coffee with cream and one cup of tea, sugar for both please.

How many times in our five month stint in Europe had we done this? Sitting in a coffee shop or at a train station sipping on our preferred drink and taking in the scenery. Yet somehow, this time was different. It was as if time was standing still and no one cared. We watched while an artist placed the first of many strokes on a clean canvas and stared in amazement as the painter next to him put the finishing touches on his latest masterpiece. We laughed as a waiter at the cafe across the way tried to lure some female passerby's in with charm and a not-so-subtle wink of the eye. Soaking in the experience and sipping on our drinks of choice we began to talk life. We talked about the future, what it held for us and where we were headed after our European love affair was complete. Imaging our lives and our future selves we made predictions and prophecy's and in the end, promises.
Promises to never forget that afternoon, those moments and the scenery. Promises to return to Paris and stumble upon that same square and most of all, the promise that no matter how crazy life gets, no matter how many years pass and how many new memories are made, we will always make time for each other and one cup of coffee, one cup of tea, and one giant cup of life.

I received her text today and as I read it, I was surprised by the memory of that afternoon and the vividness it still holds in my mind. There we were, two American girls spending a simple afternoon in Paris, sipping on coffee and tea, all the while making a memory that would last a lifetime.