i had a tectonic meltdown last thursday and it wasn't pretty. later that same day i got on a red-eye to florida to visit my radiant grandmother who is turning 91 any minute. out of san francisco we were slightly delayed, but just enough so that a good portion of those of us on the flight were subsequently stranded in los angeles for the night after missing our connection to orlando by five minutes. it wan't pretty.
we boarded at 7am the following morning after spending a few hours at a place called the "hacienda" near the airport, the word meaning, "estate," in spanish, but more like, "dump," when translated into what sort of accommodations that united airlines offers when they try to destroy your quick bi-coastal travel plans.
nevertheless, the miracle of flying is not lost on me.
that cold morning i could barely wait to get poured into my window seat for the next five plus hours. i shimmied into my spot and watched bags being loaded into the bottom of the plane. pretty soon my row neighbors arrived. they were two rather large men, one for the aisle, one for the middle. i felt a little guilty about my window seat but apparently not enough to say yes when the middle guy offered me cash to switch spots with him.
i can't believe i said no. i was clearly sleep deprived.
six hours later we touched down on another coast and into my grandmother's arms i went.
the weekend went in a series of moments i felt so fortunate to have. whatever had been raging inside me before then passed with the brief tropical storms that drifted above us.
i have been home for a few days now. the weekend spent with my family already carefully folded away for safekeeping, three thousand miles from this minute.
while i would say that, yes, i am made up of mostly water like the rest of us, i think i am part elastic too. water, bones, muscles, elastic, big hair, and disparate thoughts. that being said, i have a few things i do besides eat, drink, and work in order to survive, and one of those things is hike.
i get hooked on trails. there is one i go on as much as four or five times a week for the last fifteen years. i'd say we are in a bit of a relationship now, it's pretty serious. we've been through a lot together...into its dirt i've laughed, cried, fallen, gotten back up, dodged rattlesnakes, seen sunsets and sunrises, deer, and sweated a lot out. while i have proclaimed my undying love for it time and time again, yesterday we might have reached soul mate status.
as i climbed the hill, the light descended into its final hours above the horizon. i marched upward following the path snaking through the eucalyptus and noticed a couple of other hikers stopped on the trail. as i got closer a nice man with a baby on his back pointed with his chin to a crook in a branch of a tall tree just across from us. my eyes searched and focused; there was an owl.
a tidal wave of excitement passed through me. if i could either say with a straight face, "spirit animal," or have one, i'd like for it to be an owl.
i couldn't tear my eyes away. i can't be sure, but what i want to believe is that we were in a tandem gaze and somehow something inside me completely lifted, shifted and was so moved by that strong face looking back at mine.
it was hard to turn away from something so beautiful and continue my climb to the top of the hill. with only a chance that the owl would still be there on my way back down, i pivoted out and knew how lucky i'd been, how lucky i am, and sometimes that's all i really need.
i am a writer because owls make my heart beat fast.