Childhood Friend

I grew up with the ocean
by my side
with rhythmic waves lulling me to sleep
soft breathing matching my heartbeat
gentle touch brushing my face
salty perfume filling my lungs
every breath calming my heart
or making it race
while walking the golden shores
sand warm, then cool, beneath my feet
grains shifting underneath
pushing between my toes
vanishing as the tide rushes out
with the heat of the sun
or cool drops of rain
the moist mist
or those cloudy days
the cry of seagulls echo above ocean waves

Forest Folk (A 500 Word Story)

“What do you think lives out there?”

She looked up at him from her book. This was meant to be a time for reading, but, like every day before, his childish curiosity always took over. She smiled, never mad at his questions, only amused.

They sat in the glass dome room that provided a full view of the woods around the house. The woods were lush with large, green leaves that swayed in the breeze. She imagined the rustling sounded more like whispering to those who cared to listen closely.

He turned to her again, his soft emerald eyes glistening in the late afternoon sun. “What do you think lives out there?”

She placed her book on the arm of the chair and joined her son on the cushioned window seat – his favorite place.

“Well, there’s the trees, of course. Then, I’m sure there are plenty of deer and rabbits and you can’t forget all the other tinny woodland creatures like chipmunks and squirrels and mice. I imagine there are foxes with burrows somewhere deep in the woods. At night the owls come out and sit high in the trees –”

“Wait.” He looked up at her with a curiosity only a child can possess. “What do you mean the trees live there? The trees are the woods.”

“Are they?” She smiled down at him. “Well, I must be mistaken. You know, even mothers can make mistakes.”

“But what do you mean? What are the trees if not trees?”

She gathered him into her arms, pulling him close.

“Some say the trees come alive, or that they are alive. They pull their great trunks up from the ground, dislodging their roots, and walk. Slowly they make their way through the forest, across the land, visiting friends they’ve known for hundreds of years.”

He gazed at his mother, a serious, yet wonderous, look on his face as she nodded slowly.

“The trees are alive?” he asked, eyes widening.

“There are those who say the trees take different forms. Some become owls or deer or foxes, roaming the woods where they were born. Others become witches or sorcerers, able to command the land on which they once grew. Some become healers, their knowledge of plants and flowers and herbs allowing them to mix natural remedies.”

“Can they become trees again?” asked her son. “Can they change from one to the other, or are they stuck?”

She smiled. “Forest Folk can do many things.”

Her eyes drifted from her son to the trees. Across the lawn, at the back of their yard, were a cluster of trees leading to a patch of dense woods. When she married, she asked her husband to find a house surrounded by trees so she could always have the woods nearby.

“Unless,” she continued. “They fall in love.”

“That’s a good story.”

She focused on the woods, her smile half faded.

“Are you one?” asked her son after a moment of silence. “Am I one?”

She turned her attention back to him, smiling into his bright green eyes.

A Life Passion

Photography has always been one of my passions. I love film and digital and enjoy photographing with all kinds of cameras. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places and have also meet some amazing people along the way.

One of my favorite film cameras is the 120N Holga. When I first used it for a photography project back in college, I was skeptical. I wasn’t sure how a camera completely constructed of plastic and originally meant to be a child’s toy could possible be considered a proper tool for taking pictures. After developing the first roll of film, I saw it’s potential. I quickly learned this camera had a lot of hidden quirks that could be used to the advantage of the photographer. With every roll of film, I fell in love with my Holga. To this day it’s one of my go-to cameras. It’s also one of the cameras I always bring with me when traveling to different places.

There’s something romantic, nostalgic, and overall beautiful about black and white film. I love photographing in black and white, but, when the occasion calls for it, I love color film too. When it comes to the Holga, I like how easy it is to experiment with multiple exposures. When it comes to the Holga and color film, I love the slightly out of focus, dreamy quality of the pictures and how, sometimes, they almost appear more like paintings than photographs.

I recently developed a roll of film from back in May. (The film was expired, but I used it anyway.) I’m happy and excited by how the pictures turned out, so I’ve decided to share a few of my favorites below.

To see more photos please visit my website.

To The Bride and Groom

This pass weekend my brother married his best friend and the love of his life. I wasn’t able to give a speech (which is okay because, sometimes, I don’t think I’m the best public speaker), but if I did grab a mic and take to the stage, off the top of my head, I would’ve said something like this:

I’ve known Kyle his whole life. Obviously. As siblings we’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve gone through phases where we’ve tortured each other relentlessly, phases where we seemed to have nothing in common, and phases where we’ve gotten along perfectly. No matter the phase one thing has stayed constant – we’ve always been there for each other.

When we were much, much younger we used to share a room. I was only a little kid and he was just a baby. Sometimes, on the nights he had trouble falling asleep, I would sing to him. I haven’t had to sing him to sleep for many, many years, but I’ve been there for him in other ways. He’s my brother, my favorite brother…my only brother…and I’ll always have his back. (And I know he has mine too.)

I remember when he was still living at home. There were many days, and nights, where I would sit in his room and watch him play video games. (I love a good, well thought out story.) Sometimes I would bring my notebook and laptop so I could write or work on editing photos and we could still be together. Some nights I would head to bed before him and from my room I could hear him cursing at whatever video game he was playing. I always found amusement in that, for some reason. I think it was his delivery. If I didn’t hear the cursing, I heard him playing the bass or guitar as he practiced or wrote songs. The music was always a comfort. The day he moved out the house became quiet and I missed him instantly. Whether he already knows it or not, he’ll know it now…my brother’s always been one of my best friends and I love him tremendously.

I’ve known Maria for about 10 years now. I don’t remember the specifics from the first time we met. All I remember is getting a good vibe from this girl and seeing how happy my brother seemed to be with her. I do, however, remember the first time the three of us went out for pizza. I had gone to pick my brother up from college and bring him home as a surprise for our mom’s birthday, but before leaving we all met in town for a quick bite. Well, I was going to buy everyone a slice of pizza and Maria yelled at me – no – because she didn’t want me to pay. I don’t know if you remember this, but I do. And all I have to say is – Maria, this life is longer than you might think and, one day, I will buy you a slice of pizza.

Over the years I’ve grown to love Maria. She’s not only a friend, but the sister I never had…until now. Thank you, Kyle, for bringing this amazing woman into my life, into all of our lives. (She must truly be as silly and crazy as the rest of us because she fits into this family so well.) I love you a great deal, Sister.

There are plenty of other stories I could tell about both of them, but I’m not sure they would appreciate that, considering enough, potentially embarrassing, stories have already been told tonight. So, I’ll end with these words.

From the beginning, I’ve watched Kyle and Maria grow together. I’ve watched the love they have for each other grow and their bond strengthen. And, although their relationship might not be perfect, as most relationships have natural ups and downs, you can tell just by looking at them that they are perfect for each other.

I love you both more than words could ever say.

So…

Be good to each other, take care of one another, and always love each other.

And, Maria, if he ever has trouble sleeping at night, you might just have to sing to him.

I now ask everyone to raise a glass to the bride and groom – I wish you many years of love and happiness.

A Year Ago I Had A Thought…

A year ago today, I had a thought. That’s not to say this is the first time I ever had a thought, but it was a very specific one. This particular thought was grounded in another – a person I had been thinking of for a while, off and on for years actually – and went something like this:

Have you ever had those moments where you think of someone you were friends with in HS or college, but you lost touch after graduation, and you wonder how they’re doing?

I posed the question across my social media platforms, wondering if anyone else truly felt this way. (I also suppose I was feeling a bit lost and at war with myself for reasons I won’t go into, but might become clear on their own later on.) A surprising number of people said yes, that they had this thought a lot. It was amazing to me that so many people, regardless of how much time had passed, still thought about people they had been friends with in high school or college. Although, when I asked if they ever reached out or tried to get in touch with these friends from the past, everyone’s answer was the same – no.

And that was the root of the conflict, this ongoing internal war. I was torn on whether or not I should reach out to him, this old college friend of mine, or if it would be better to simply leave well enough alone.

At the time, only one of my friends knew my situation. He also knew there were more variables at play than I was saying. Truth be told, this old friend of mine who had come into my thoughts and set up camp with no plans of leaving (at least as far as I could tell) was someone who I had liked more than a friend. (And, in the honor of full disclosure, he had liked me more than a friend too.) Being torn on whether I should reach out to him or not simply derived from the fact that I’d been rejected and hurt too many times by others. And, yes, I know that’s all part of life, but at the time my fragile heart felt like it was still partially healing from its latest disaster and I wasn’t sure if it could handle any more pain. (Plus, I wasn’t sure what direction his life had taken and I didn’t just want to pop in and interrupt.) Well, my friend, with all his wisdom, life experience, and just-take-a-chance attitude sat me down to a conversation where he said some things and told a story that made me think a lot.

In the end, I decided I didn’t want to live a life full of what-ifs. I figured if I took a chance, even if things didn’t go well, at least I could say I tried.

I think it’s safe to say that we’re not creatures who like to take chances or show vulnerability. We don’t like to feel rejected, or hurt, or empty. We don’t always like stepping out of our comfort zone.

But we have to do all these things, and more, if we want to live.

I think that’s what life is, or, at least, maybe, part of it – taking chances.

So, I reached out and found my friend. We ended up rekindling our friendship and a whole lot more…but I think that’s a story for another time.

Me and My Grandpa

When I was a little girl, I used to follow my grandpa around like a second shadow. To me, he was one of the most interesting people in my life. (Then again, I suppose children find everything fascinating, but that still doesn’t take away from what I thought of him.)

There was a time when the basement looked like an aquarium. Fish tank after fish tank lined the walls or were grouped together in the middle of the room. (Looking back, I think his Angel fish were his prize possession. At least when it came to his fish. They were the only ones he used to breed.) I used to follow him down to the basement – down the narrow, almost, 90-degree staircase with the rickety railing – to help him feed all the fish. He’d let me take a pinch of fish food and toss it on the surface of the water. I used to get a big kick out of how all the fish swarmed to the top and gobble up the flakes of fish food. Sometimes, he’d even let me put my finger in the tank so the fish would come up and nibble on my finger. It tickled and, as a child, made me laugh.

Growing up, I always stayed close to him. (As I said before, I was like a second shadow.) He continued to be interesting to me in many ways and I began to realize that we had more in common than I first thought.

My grandpa was a photographer. He’s not world renowned. He’s not famous in anyway. In fact, no one will ever remember his name. I guess he was more of a hobbyist photographer, but he was a photographer nonetheless. He used to develop his own film and print his own pictures. As someone who is a photographer themselves (and very much into film photography) I was excited to learn about this part of his life. One of the best days we spent together was when he pulled out all his old cameras and shared them with me.

When I was in middle school we had to write a history paper on immigration in relation to our family. I knew my family came from a few different places, but I wanted my paper to stand out. That’s when my grandpa opened a whole new world for me. He opened the world of Eastern Europe, of Lithuania. (They don’t teach much about Eastern Europe in school and they certainly don’t teach you anything about Lithuania. No, my education in history was about to become bigger than anything that could be taught in a classroom.)

Over the years I became captivated by his stories, hanging on every word. He told me about places I’ve never been or heard of along with people I’ve never met and have only seen in pictures. Sometimes I’d ask him to repeat a story because I enjoyed it so much, but, mostly, I just let him talk and tell me whatever story came to mind.

And then, one day, he started talking to me in a language that wasn’t English.

I’ve always been a curious person, always wanting to know more and learn. That day he started talking in a language other than English was the day he began teaching Lithuanian. And, my grandpa being my grandpa, taught me all the bad and dirty words and phrases first. (Needless to say, my grandma wasn’t pleased, but my mom thought it was funny.) As the years went on, he taught me everything he could remember, but I wanted to know more. So, I took what I already knew, bought a Lithuanian/English and English/Lithuanian dictionary, and taught myself. (And let me just say that teaching yourself a new language is no easy task.)

To this day my grandpa is one of my best friends. These few, brief, stories I’ve shared are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. We’ve spent a lot of time together, shared a lot of laughs, a lot of lessons, and a lot of stories. We’ve always been able to talk about anything and everything. Even in his years of declining health he’s always been there for me. The last time we talked he offered me some sound advice – to make sure the man I’m with truly loves me and to never marry someone who doesn’t love you. (And this pearl of wisdom came from a man who has been married to the same woman for 70 years.)

I love my grandpa for everything he is (even the not so warm and fuzzy parts) and for everything he has taught me and still, in his own way, continues to teach me.

I think we all have that one person (or if we’re really luck, those few people) in our lives who we have a special connection with. Those are the rarest of relationships – ones to cherish, memories to hold onto long after those people are gone.

The only, proper way, I can think to end this post is the same way I’ve ended every conversation with my grandpa – Aš tave myliu.

No Guarantee

I used to be afraid I’d never find anyone who would love me as much as I’d love them. Now that I’ve found that person, I’m afraid of losing them.

That’s not to say I’m worried about falling out of love with him – my special someone – or him loving me any less. No, this isn’t some high school or college love that lasts no more than a season. This is real deal love.

When I say I’m afraid of losing him, I mean I’m scared of him being taken from me far too soon. It’s not something I lose sleep over, but it is a thought that slips in and out of my mind at time.

Life is unpredictable. It’s a world of give and take.

So, what’s my point?

Well…

The things we have today aren’t guaranteed for tomorrow. Actually, tomorrow itself isn’t guaranteed. And that’s why I believe we shouldn’t take anything, or anyone, in this life for granted.

Shifting Shores

drifting in and out of the dream
sometimes reality is too deep
the dreaming world, her secrets keep
setting foot on the sandy shore
constantly searching for more
no impression left to the naked eye
from the ever-changing tides
found a lover, meant to be
connected by the ocean waves
always sliding into his arms
with gentle grace or siren’s song
slipping in and out of the haze
dreams fading to reality day by day
where seals might be selkies, mermaids be fish
some say dreams are only a wish
others say they are a gift

Second Chances

Life isn’t in the business of giving second chances.

At least not to my knowledge.

But when life does offer a second chance, whether by design or accident, I highly recommend grasping it. (Although, the argument could be made that there are no accidents in life and that everything happens for a reason. That, however, is a discussion for another time.)

I never thought I’d be given a second chance. I thought I screwed it up so bad that the universe would be laughing at me for decades, calling me a foolish woman. And maybe I was foolish, but I was younger then and my reasoning felt sound.

Okay, maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself. So, let me backtrack.

Years ago, when I was in college, I met a boy. It wasn’t love at first sight, at least not that I can remember, but he still had qualities that made me blush and want to melt. He had the most gorgeous eyes, a sweet smile, and a warm laugh. He was kind and funny. (Even to this day he can make me laugh like no one else can.) He seemed quiet and shy, unless it was just the two of us together. We were friends, sure, but, at a certain point, I developed feelings that were more than friendly feelings. Of course, I was quiet and shy myself and certainly not the type of person who would openly make my feelings known to anyone. No, I had been hurt too many times by others to take that risk and go down that road again. Besides, the chances he even remotely felt the same about me was, well, slim.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The year we were meant to graduate, he asked me out.

I said no.

And the universe rolled its eyes and whispered how I was a foolish woman.

I was too.

The truth is, when he asked, I was surprised and scared. I won’t go into detail, but the rush of emotions and thoughts that passed through my mind was almost too much. So, I said no and basically ran away when I should’ve said yes and stayed. I knew it was a mistake even as it was happening, but, again, without going into the details, I was younger then and my reasoning felt sound.

I think we’ve all been there at least once in our lives. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all run scared from something. And there’s no shame in that because, at the time, it feels right and our choices aren’t thought of as mistakes. It’s only when we look back on things later that we sometimes title out actions ‘Mistake.’

Well, we lost contact shortly after graduation. Part of me thought it was for the best. Another part of me was sad to lose such a good friend.

Through the years, he still passed through my thoughts. At first, it felt like the universe was making me suffer more than I was already making myself suffer. I felt guilty for hurting him, sad for losing contact, and was mad at myself for my previous actions. Overall, I pulled a classic me and continuously beat myself up over the situation.

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been there at least once in our lives too. We’ve all beat ourselves up over something, no matter how big or small. But I think this, all of this, is just part of being human.

Later on, when he’d pass through my thoughts, I felt different about it. It didn’t feel like suffering anymore. I simply hoped he was doing well in life and wished him all the best.

The last time this man entered my thoughts, he wouldn’t leave. He set up camp and refused to vacate the area. He relentlessly remained on my mind and I believed it must be for a reason so, I searched for him.

And I found him.

And I guess, in a way, we’ve always been connected.

It turns out, I never left his thoughts either, as he spent time searching for me too. (Only he was never able to track me down.)

I suppose this was how it was always meant to be.

Maybe it wasn’t right back then, when we were in college. Maybe we were too young, too foolish in our own ways. Maybe we had to go off and grow into the people we were meant to be, not only for ourselves but for each other.

So, maybe, this is how it was meant to be. Or, maybe, this is a second chance. It doesn’t really matter to me either way. All I know is, this man is now my special someone and I’m never letting him go.