Tag Archives: Texas

Jefferson Memorial

It’s been over two months since Italy, a month since Iceland, and almost a year since I sat in this exact same room, in this exact same bed, in this exact same house, puzzling over how to make sense of new beginnings.

After school ended back in May, I walked out of Cura Valera for the last time and straight to the bus station. My principal Laura, the same one who’d picked me up from the bus station nine months earlier, was the same one who dropped me off. Once I got to Almeria I took my last taxi to 26 Paseo de Almeria and let myself in with the key under the mat. That’s when it hit me: this is it. No more Ex-Pat Thanksgiving, no more rounds of King’s Cup, no more tapas at Bambalina or Coke & Hope Floats (or was it Hope & Coke Floats?) on Sunday nights. I had twelve hours to say goodbye so I put my luggage down, pushed aside my early-onset homesickness, and forged out into the night. And at 9 AM the next morning, after two rounds of discotecas and a sunrise skinny dip in the Mediterranean, I boarded my last ALSA bus and began the journey home.

Fast forward three flights, two countries, four time zones, and one week later and I’m back on American soil. After a long metro ride with someone I can only assume was my future self (my future self told me I’m going to marry a Navy man and have three boys) I scarfed down some REAL AMERICAN PIZZA WITH RANCH AND A DR. PEPPER and crashed mega-hard (I say things like mega-hard now that I’m back in the US). In the morning, because I’m still in traveler-mode, I get up at 8, lace up my Chacos and hit the streets.

This is my sixth time in DC.  It strikes me with particular poignancy (or maybe this is just the jet lag) that my time in DC has come full circle. Once, six or seven years ago, I left home for the first time to spend nearly a month in DC. My first week was spent hiding in a basement, terrified of my own shadow, let alone those cast by some of the buildings. And then one day the Downeys took me to these botanical gardens in Virginia with a greenhouse full of lily pads bigger than my entire body. And just like that, I fell in love with adventuring and I fell in love with DC.

One day, I walked the monuments, from the capitol all the way down to Lincoln. I sat on the edge of the Lincoln Memorial and listened to kids recite “I Have a Dream” in childish unison and felt my feet hanging dozens of feet above the ground but felt surprisingly rooted in the magnitude of history and my place in it. And then, with one last monument to visit, I took a right instead of a left and landed up in Foggy Bottom and GWU rather than the tidal basin and the Jefferson Memorial. Each time I’ve come back, I’ve tried to squeeze it into my schedule and failed each time.

So, three more trips, six years, and so many countries, I’ve finally made it to the Jefferson Memorial. And I’ve been walking all morning trying to make sense of things and this is what I’ve got: some things take years to get to. Forgiveness, acceptance, understanding, a surprisingly illusive monument.

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Some things take years to get to. At the Jefferson Memorial (FINALLY!).

When my dad was twenty, he and a buddy took a road trip out to California. Ever since I turned 18, I have been begging and planning and dreaming of the day when I would finally make what, to me, amounted to my coming-of-age pilgrimage to the Golden State. And tomorrow that pilgrimage begins; some things just take years to get to.

But I’ve come of age. I moved to Spain and I spent a week in Iceland and I finally saw the damn Jefferson Memorial (in real life, not just stills from Scandal). Why am I going? What am I going to do? How long am I going to be gone? All questions I’m looking forward to learning the answers to. I didn’t go looking for this adventure, I just kind of stumbled upon it by accident.

Back in May, I was sitting on a beach in Cabo de Gata with some friends on one of our last weekends together before our bus back to Almeria and I had to fight to keep from screaming, “BUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?” I didn’t expect the answer to be Texas. I also didn’t expect the answer to be California. I don’t think that the answer is France (for now).

So by Saturday I’ll be the newest resident of San Francisco where I’ll be somewhat of a nanny, sort of a housekeeper, maybe an employee of a software company. I didn’t say anything sooner because I didn’t want to jinx it; not even 48 hours before I received the offer to move to California, I had just finished accepting an offer from the College Station Parks & Rec department to teach swimming lessons. My month back in Texas hasn’t gone slowly and now, without even planning for it, I’m leaving again.

Back in Spain, I wondered what would happen to The Accidental Adventurer. Not surprisingly, she’s accidentally stumbled upon another adventure. Tomorrow, I move to California.

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Home is wherever I’m with you. At Houston Intercontinental Airport. 

Once when I was in college, on a school night, I drove down to Austin for a concert. At the concert, I stood so close to the speakers that the bass moved through me, shaking down my collar bones and shimmying up my spine until I couldn’t tell where my heartbeat ended and the music began. This past month, I’ve been driving all over Texas, from Shiner to Fort Worth and all around the hill country. And everywhere I go, I get the same breathless, lost-my-heartbeat feeling. And then I see it: my heartbeat, in the hills and the trees and the sunsets and the highways and the rivers and the weddings and the reunions and the families and the friends. How am I supposed to leave this? How am I supposed to leave the place that makes my heart beat?

I don’t have the answer to that one either. I just know that coming home wasn’t as hard as I expected. I just know that today I picked up my Heart of Texas charm from James Avery, freshly polished for new adventures. I just know that tomorrow a new adventure begins and I’m just as prepared for it as I was almost one year ago, when I sat in this same spot preparing to go to Spain.

It’s been a hell of a year, hasn’t it?

 

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Left Behind

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Close up of all of its beautiful, color-coordinated glory.

Does it need any more explanation than this?

Something possessed me, the day before I was moving out of the room where I’d lived for two years, that instead of packing clothes and boxing stuff up for storage, this is what I really needed to be doing.

My parents owned the house that I lived in during my last two years of college. When I first moved in, as the only girl in a house with one older brother and one older male cousin, I was lucky enough to get the master bedroom with attached bathroom. When I moved out, two cousins remained, uninterested in relocating all of their things into the bigger bedroom. My old bedroom then became a guest room for visiting friends and family. All of my art, furniture, and books remained while everything else was boxed up and stacked in the closet.

I’ve come a long way from the days where I used to hide in my closet just to get some space to read in space. The funny thing is, even though I have this perfectly lovely nook, my favorite place to read is still halfway under my bed, wedged between the wall and the bed frame. But it’s just so dang pretty to look at!

Not to mention that I reread books the way some people reread movies. It’s heaven having all of your favorites within reach of your fingertips. Long car trip? Please turn your eyes to the pink section of (mostly) chick-lit fiction. Feeling a little lost and needing some perspective? Dark blues and blacks contain some thought-provoking literary fiction that both entertains and instructs.

And each book has a memory. Just looking at this grainy picture I can already put together shapes and colors. I read about 200 hundred pages of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead on a six hour car trip to Frisco with my grandfather; Rebel Angels by Libba Bray on another such car trip. The yellow copy of the Writer’s Market on the second shelf was a graduation gift of sorts from my high school English teacher. The blue and white yearbook is a year-long labor of love from my senior year as editor of the yearbook (I’m still fuzzy on how that whole thing happened; not the yearbook, but how I got the position of editor of it). I reread Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility every January and The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder is one of a handful of books that has ever made me cry.

I miss owning things. I love how simple my life is become, how little I need and how easily maps and postcards become equivalent to canvas and pottery in terms of decoration, but I’m a child of consumerism. I grew up in a house with space for things and there is always a part of me that buys something with the explicit purpose of the one-day promise of a place where I can have all of my things in one space.

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The full nook, complete with plastic duck “borrowed” (indefinitely) from a bar in Montana.

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An Open Letter

Dear Addy,

I’m half convinced you’re made of magic. Everyone says you’re my spitting image, from the curls to the way you used the exact same excuses. (Note to future children: for some reason, moms don’t see “but he bit me back” as a plausible reason for punishment. Something about the wording.)

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How did you get so weird? I swear you were like this way when we got you.

When your mom was pregnant, I would stare at her stomach and say, over and over, “There’s a person in there. Isn’t that the craziest? Like, a real live person. Inside of your body is another body that’s one day going to be a person with a personality who makes decisions and thinks and has the possibility of curing cancerInside of you.” Before you were even born, I was overwhelmed with your possibility.

And then there you were! A squalling, crying, flesh-and-bone person, just brimming with possibility. I’ve been enchanted ever since.

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Still SO weird.

When I went to Montana, you cried every time we talked. Who does that? Who lives so openly and emotionally that people leaving makes them cry like they’re being ripped apart? Granted, you were only 4 so you probably cried over ice cream, but, still, I envy you. So I remind you every chance I get: you’re my best friend.

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Best Frand

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Where did you get all that sass from?

Your mom is the biggest role model of my life. I’ve always wanted to be just like her. What isn’t there to want to be like? She’s the smartest, sweetest, prettiest mommy I know, not to mention she’s got you! Is there any luckier mommy in the world? I wanted to do it just like her too: I wanted to go to A&M, to meet a boy in the Corps, to date, and then to graduate and get married and have my own little Addy Baby.

But, after a long time of trying and wishing and hoping, I realized that I was never going to get that. But that’s okay! I wasn’t supposed to be your mom, I was supposed to be me.

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Not Aunt Hannah and I’s best decision; this is why your mom is the Mom and we’re just the Aunts.

I know I’m far away and you don’t understand why right now, but, one day I’m going to sit you down and tell you this: these adventures are for you. I’m here to teach you that it’s okay to leave. That it’s okay to dream big. That it’s okay to be scared to try. That it’s okay to chase your dreams and realize, halfway there, that you’ve changed your mind and you have new dreams.

I wish someone would’ve told me at twelve, at sixteen, at nineteen and a half, that we weren’t all created equal. I wish someone would have told me, “It’s okay to feel like you want more than what you dreamt of, it’s okay to want to travel and see the world and other cultures. It’s okay if you don’t have a fiance by the time you graduate college.” Maybe I wouldn’t have wasted so much time feeling guilty for being different.

Or maybe someone did tell me and I just wasn’t listening. So, to make things a little easier for you, I’m going to show you. You have your mom to show you what making a family looks like if you want to have babies, you have your Aunt Hannah to show you what ambition, brains, and beauty look like if you want to rule the world, and you have me, M, to show you what adventures look like if you want to do just about everything else.

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A born rabblerouser.

Some girls get married at 18, at 22, at 25, and 47. Some girls have adventures and go far, far away and some girls stay home. Some girls have jobs and some girls have babies and some girls have both. And all of these things are okay.

I want you to have options. I don’t want you to ever look around and think, “But where is someone like me?” Because I swear you’re made of my soul: you have the same curls, the same sass, the same magic. Whatever you want, whatever you decide, I’m here. 

You are still that person I was so blown away by. You are brimming with possibility and I will fight tooth and nail to keep anyone, including yourself, from ever making you feel like you have a finite number of options.

Love,

M

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Made of magic and sunlight.

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The Beginning

Jane Austen screwed me out of ever being able to write any type of opening line–good, bad, perfectly average–for any type of work–blog post, letter to my mailman, phone message–without first being seized with fear at the prospect. Or, say you do write a really top-notch opening line (that one, even though it took two weeks and twenty tries, seemed to go over pretty well dontcha think?), what comes next?

If you set the bar too high, the second sentence has to be just as spectacular, and the third and fourth and fifth even more so. What’s so bad about keeping your expectations low? Why can’t this blog start off with a good old-fashioned introduction: “Hi, my name is Madelyne Adams, I’m the third out of five children, and I’m moving to Spain”? I mean, it could, but then Jane Austen, up in heaven or purgatory or maybe even down in hell, I don’t know, is just going to shake her head and say, “What a chump.”

The opening line is supposed to be this big, dramatic, epic statement that sweeps you off your feet and into the main action of the story but really all my opening line boils down to is stupidity. There is no grace or romance or drama, there’s just me, making a split second decision that seems graceful and dramatic and romantic in the moment but, at 2 AM a week before I’m supposed to fly out, it just seems really stupid.

In some areas, my extreme decisiveness serves me well. Dillydallying over dinner plans? Madelyne will take none of your wishy-washiness! To Chili’s, posthaste! Pants or skirt? The answer is always No Pants. Black or yellow? That’s a dumb song and I’m ashamed of myself for even making the joke.

In other areas, not so much. Say, Madelyne, do you think it would be a good idea to, while all of your friends are starting graduate school or getting married or learning what 401k means, move halfway across the world to teach English in a country where you don’t speak the language for a year? Golly gee, that sounds swell!

Not that I’m not excited! I know how lucky I am to be having this adventure but, if you had asked me if this was the plan for after graduation, I probably would’ve said no. I probably also would’ve told you how I wanted to be a married, stay-at-home wife by this point but look how that worked out.

That’s kind of the point of this blog. This is my brand of adventuring: accidentally stumbling upon a phenomenal opportunity–whitewater rafting on the Yellowstone, horse wrangling in the Texas hill country, teaching English in the south of Spain–that I’ve been stupidly lucky enough to say yes to.

So cheers to the future, y’all, and welcome to the ride!

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