One afternoon a few months ago, when I came home from work, a guy who was raking the yard across the street yelled to me to ask if I wanted my yard raked too.
And so began my relationship with Careen and Robbin, my yard rakers.
The first day was a huge success in that they explained their business plan (rake yards to earn money instead of robbing people) and gave some insight into Rosie’s peculiar body shape (long body and short legs must mean she’s got some alligator in her).
After that day, they’ve stopped by often when I haven’t been there, leaving long notes on my door detailing their visit:
"We came over to rake your yard, but you wasn’t here. We would like to rake your yard again. We can hear your dog barking. We think you might be asleep though."
When I returned from Costa Rica last week, I found another similar note. This one was the longest I’d gotten yet and explained that they’d come by four times and also that, no offense, but my yard had A LOT of leaves in it.
So, I called Robbin who said they’d be happy to rake on Sunday morning at 9 a.m. I agreed and said I’d see them then. But on Sunday at 9, as I was drinking my coffee, Robbin called to ask if I could pick them up. As I’d dropped them off after their last visit I knew where their house was so I said I’d be there in a few minutes. When I arrived, they both came out eating hot dogs with ketchup. At 9 a.m.
Somehow, inevitably, when Robbin and Careen come over to rake, they end up spending more time in my house than they do in the yard. Robbin is obsessed with Rosie, who she calls “Weenie Rosie” and prefers to hold over her shoulder like she’s burping a baby and Carreen is obsessed with my bar top liquor collection, which he has offered multiple times to come help me drink. On Sunday morning, Robbin wasn’t feeling good so I made her hot tea and we chatted in the kitchen—mostly about Rosie.
I’m sure I could call one of the actual professional yard services whose fliers I often find in my mailbox. And it’s likely they’d be cheaper—and there’s no question they’d be faster. But they’d probably want to just tend to my yard and leave. Sounds pretty boring to me.
Last night I slipped out of my 28th year and into my 29th with my feet in the sand as the sounds of a Costa Rican band mixed with crashing waves under the full moon. For someone whose January birth date has been historically plagued by snow, this felt perfect.
Birthdays are strange though. I’ve never liked their forced attention- and now I’m also not a big fan of the way they serve as a brutal reminder of the passage of time.
However, birthdays do offer the chance to reflect on and be grateful for all I’ve been given in 29 years. And I have been given a lot. Today, I am exceptionally thankful for my family, who I’ve never deserved, but who have made me feel like I must be the luckiest daughter and sister in the world. And today I am especially grateful for my friends, who make me laugh and who have loved me like family.
Now, I’m off to put my feet in that sand again because on this particular birthday I’m also thankful for salty ocean breezes and beachside happy hours that are helpful for forgetting that whole “passage of time” thing.
Well, so far I’ve seen Costa Rica for about four seconds when it wasn’t raining, but those four seconds were gorgeous. After that, there’s been quite a bit of rain, which, considering we’re in the rain forest, is probably to be expected. Yesterday was a long day of travel, but ended with us spending the evening swimming in hot spring pools and enjoying local cocktails.
However, my favorite part of yesterday came on our three hour drive to the hotel. We stopped at a roadside restaurant with traditional Costa Rican fare. The menu was a bit perplexing, but eventually we ordered a variation of rice and beans, and local beer. But most importantly we ordered an appetizer that was loosely translated as “Bowl of Cheese.” Seemed like a brilliant concept.
I had no idea how brilliant it could be. A giant bowl of what was just melted, chewy, stringy, savory cheese arrived. It was like someone took the best cheese you’d ever had on top of a pizza, and threw it in a bowl. There were a few beans and a little salsa on the side, but the focus here was cheese, glorious, cheese. So, we sat on the restaurant’s porch, looking over the mountains, drinking beer, and eating cheese. I hadn’t realized until that moment that this was actually my dream in life of how to spend every after noon, but it turns out, it is.
So, now I’m off to have fruit and water for breakfast to counteract the fact that my discovery of “Bowl of Cheese” is likely to cause some issues with “Pants not Fitting.”
My dad sent me this email this morning. Always good to know where he stands on the “find lost daughter versus hang on beach” question:
"Have a great time, but do be careful. I would hate to have to come looking for you - a la holiday in Aruba, but at least Costa Rica is a nice place to visit. So, I could probably take a few extra days at the beach to just hang out if I couldn’t find you. I would look for at least two days anyway."
This has nothing to do with some kind of pretentious “there’s just a bunch of trash on TV and I’d rather read The New Yorker anyway” kind of mindset. It’s mostly to do with the fact that over the summer I had some financial issues that resulted in me pawning worldly possessions to buy azalea bushes and realizing that not having cable would save me $80 a month. I won’t go into the dirty details, but let’s just say it was “Sarah gets to keep up with the Kardashians” or “Rosie gets to eat.”
So, no cable.
I knew I wouldn’t miss it much. Honestly, when I canceled it back in October, I hadn’t turned on my TV since a friend made me watch The Masters back in April. What I didn’t anticipate is how convenient it would become as an excuse when I find myself in situations where I have no idea what people are talking about.
Sometimes these situations have to do with things one could have seen on cable like topics discussed on The View or anything that happened on The Bachelor. But sometimes they’re just on regular stuff. The stuff where I used to just look like an idiot. Now I look like a slightly lesser idiot who just doesn’t have cable. You didn’t know Auburn was playing in a bowl game? Yeah, sorry, I don’t have cable. You don’t know how to pronounce lethargy? Probably would except I don’t have cable. You just ran that stop sign? Sorry officer, I don’t have cable.
Ok. Maybe not that last one. But seriously, not having cable has become the best excuse I’ve ever had. People assume I don’t have it because I’m some kind of intellectual. Turns out, I don’t have it precisely because I’m not.
Next week I’m going to Costa Rica with two friends. (Seriously, ridiculously excited about this, by the way.)
In preparation, I’ve been making hotel reservations at a beach town where we’ll be staying for part of the trip. The hotels we’ve been trying to book are tiny so I’ve just been emailing back and forth with the managers. Yesterday, I finally settled on a hotel and after confirming it received an email with these as the final lines.
And don’t worry the room will have on king size and two single beds.
I’ll been waiting for you.
Well. Ok. I’m going to chalk this up to language differences and assume that there’s not a creepy hotel manager rubbing his hands together in anticipation down in Costa Rica.
When I was in high school, I took French. And one year I sat behind a guy who, for the purpose of this blog entry, we’ll call Lou.
Lou was insufferably annoying. He had a high pitched whiny voice. He complained about everything and he drove me crazy. If you asked Lou a question he would then ask you another totally unrelated question to which he already knew the answer and then say in his whiny voice “Well, there’s your answer.”
Me: Hey Lou, can you hand me that book?
Lou: Is the grass orange?
Me: Um. No. No, it’s not Lou.
Lou: Well, there’s your answer.
I hated him.
A year and a half ago the magazine where I work moved into a new office building. One day, I was in the lobby, where I like to go to get free coffee, and over my shoulder heard a familiar voice. I couldn’t place it. But I sensed I didn’t like it. The voice was discussing how awful a co-worker was and I heard him saying “He told me that he was thinking about moving out of town and then his girlfriend kicked him out and I told him ‘Well, there’s your answer.’”
I couldn’t believe it. Of all the people in the world. Much of my family lives states away. Many of my closest friends live in other cities or even other countries. Leonardo DiCaprio lives all the way in California. But Lou, well, Lou lives and works upstairs.
Because that is how life works.
I just went to get coffee again and Lou was there, per usual, complaining about a recent trip to the grocery store. I waved at him because I’ve now reintroduced myself to him like four times, but Lou has total amnesia when it comes to me and each time pretends like it’s brand new news that we know each other. This time he looked at me, just as perplexed as always and said “Now, where do I know you from?”
I said, “Did you ever take French in high school?”
"Yes," he said.
"Well, there’s your answer." I smiled, took my coffee, and left. Lou looked at me like I was an idiot, which, to be fair, I was smiling like one. But seriously, I’d been wanting to say that for ten years. It may not have been my coolest moment, but as far as Tuesday afternoon moments go, it felt pretty good.
“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make art - write or draw or build or sing or live only as you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”