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A late October’s day I was out in a pine forest. The autumn feel was in the air, and the warm breeze sent whiffs of sweetly decaying foliage and dried grass swirling between the trunks. That night we had camped in the forest, and in the early morning it had rained. There was a lake, and now, later in the day, the water was still and cool from the rain and from the chill night. It was the perfect day for the last swim of the season.

For a while I stood ankle-deep in the silty water. The brown leaves and pine needles mingled with seashells under my toes. The breeze ran over the surface of the water and I smiled at the thought that I had, and started moving forward. Chills ran along my arms, my hairs stood on end because the water was cold. I wanted and did not want to swim. I knew it was good for me, knew I would not regret it as soon as I was in the water and swimming, but at the moment I was warm, and dry. The thought tickled me: within a couple of seconds, or minutes, my state will be completely different. I will not be warm and dry, but cold, wet, alive, moving, breathing, feeling my heart beat, blowing bubbles in the water and feeling it slip between my outstretched fingers. I blocked the capricious part of me, and coaxed the rest to continue moving forward – knee deep, waist deep. I took a deep breath. This was it: no turning back now. I grinned and pushed off.

Of course I did not regret it. I swam and looked at the world around me through the vantage point of a turtle. How enchanting it looked. Water rippling outwards in all directions, cattails swaying in the wind, pines looming onshore. An old wooden platform extending out into the water. Green hills rolling on the other shore. Behind them – the forest. And I realized that at times like this life becomes cyclical, not linear.

I remembered my childhood. As a child, I perceived life extending back behind me and forward ahead of me in two dimensions. Events were looked forward to, happened, and drifted into the past while new events appeared on the horizon. For several years my family went to vacation in rural Lithuania, and in the lazy summertime Lithuania had the stuff my dreams were made of: pines, sandy hills with bronze and rust-colored earth, mushrooms, lakes, berries, squirrels. And there was silt between fingers, and turtles peeked out between the lily pads. The conifers stood tall and warm, the sun shimmered between the leave and if you squinted just so, you could look straight into it. And the lake of many years ago flowed seamlessly into the lake that engulfed me now, and the child and the adult melded into one living, breathing organism, into one joyful soul.

I came out of the water reborn, fresh, young. What a wonderful swim I had, one day in late October.

Well we took the fam, or the fam took us, and headed up to Big Bear Lake for the Independence Day weekend. To make this simple(r), here’s a list of

Characters:

I…………………………… Yar
Daughter…………………. Little Miss V
Son ………………………. Mr. Fatty Pants
Mom………………………. Mamma
Dad ………………………. Dad
Sister ……………………. The Lizard
Brother ………………….. Lyosha
Grandma ………………… G-ma
Grandpa …………………. G-pa
Sister’s fiancé ………….. Seanster
Husband …………………. SIH (Stayed In Houston)

So most of us headed up in two cars from San Diego,and the Lizard and Seanster met us there, since they were coming from home and had a much longer drive. This was the first time that we had the fam in this combination (as in, everyone living on this continent minus Hubby ) in one enclosed spot for more than several hours, and it was…educational. To say the least.

Highlights of the trip:
Cruising around Big Bear Lake in a rented platoon. The weather was superb, albeit quite breezy, especially in the middle of the lake, the sun was shining, the air was fresh and crisp as mountain air should be. We rented a platoon that comfortably fit all 10 of us and enjoyed the morning cruising around the lake, looking at dream properties, taking pictures of beloved family folk, and Lyosha and I even went swimming, very briefly, in the lake.

The beautiful San Bernardino Mountain Range on the way to Big Bear...and me.

PushUps for GrownUps

PushUps for GrownUps (Silliest Picture Prize)

Cruising on Big Bear Lake - Lyosha and I

I really wanted to swim in the lake more than just the few minutes, but the platoon kept on drifting away from us and the water was a tad chilly (17 C) to remain in there comfortably for more than two minutes. Lyosha and I jumped in twice each, and then it was time to get moving, get defrosted, warmed up and on with our day.

The thing about spending any amount of time together makes you realized is that at one point, you were one cohesive unit. You were so familiar with each others’ ways that basically in a family you didn’t even notice that each person had their own “ways”, their own quirks and preferences. But since the family has grown, the Lizard and I moved out, spending less time with the parents and Lyosha and the g-parents…and we obtained our own quirks that are different. Lizard got a lot from her Seanster. Now they have many inside jokes and preferences for doing things, from washing dishes with extra soap, to frying their meat on the rare side.

The grandparents have also…grown. Which means that they too have their own way of doing things and are painfully inflexible. Nobody would want to cause them discomfort, and it’s perfectly respectable that at their mature age of 85, they should have the comfort of being surrounded by familiar things or at least of following familiar rituals: dinner preparations, taking medications, bedtime routines…the list goes on.

And I of course have gotten married and had two kids. Which changes things. Mainly though it changes me. I have become more flexible and patient, hopefully, yet I get more irritated, on the inside, and I feel harder somehow, more weathered, as married life has not been easy. On the flip side, I feel a tremendous need to just chill, and find that every squabble is needless and every cause for worry is unworthy of the stress it brings. On this trip I was trying to remind people to just relax. Seeing everything in a new perspective, I realize that ultimately, what matters is feeling joyful and relaxed and sharing good times with dear ones. Period.

Fabulous ladies - me and Little Miss V

The REAL Big Bear

The REAL Big Bear

Now we’re back in Sunny San Diego, I am on a continued mission to find real chillage, heading up to speak my poetry at the Open Mic hosted by Radiance , a group of christian artists of all caliber that the Lizard and I were part of years ago, when we lived here….

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