To the Mediterranean Sea,

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There is nowhere I feel more myself then in your glassy folds, reflecting sunlight on a bright June morning.

I am your daughter.

There in the middle of the planet, in between two worlds, I feel your strength and your ease. Like the comfort a child feels when they hear their mother’s call, I feel at home when I hear your waves crashing around me.

You are majestic, but we wouldn’t know by how peaceful you look from atop. It’s funny how I always seem to come back to you at the end of the season. Your inviting waters provide the freedom from everything I’ve left. I could lay on your shores and listen to your roar hour after hour, day after day into eternity. This is my ode to you, oh sea.

Like the bee who collects nectar from the honeysuckle flowers, you sweeten my mind with words to write and rhythms to play. It’s not curious at all that such a force could make me feel so alive. If could I would sail your waves forever in that little sailboat of mine.

There’s something about going back to you that makes me feel like I’m coming into my own. Maybe it’s something that has to do with my skin bronzing to it’s natural olive underneath your scintillating sun. Maybe it’s the blue in your waters that light my eyes into icy green flames. Probably, it’s your salty mist that tangles my hair into uncontrollable waves.

I think it’s your magic. I always comment as I cross your waters near dusk that I hear voices in the distance and something calling from the water. I joke that it must be the Odysseus’s sirens calling from the little alcoves, but I know I shouldn’t joke. There is definitely music, and if you listen close enough, it will spontaneously begin to play underneath your waves.

Yearning for you,

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To my future happy place,

I do not want to limit these letters to just people. I think doing so would force me to capture only a small part of an intricate spectrum of things that have shaped me. And so, I’d like to begin this letter by saying:

Dear happy place,

I don’t really know how to describe you. That is, I don’t really know what or where you are. Maybe you don’t exist. But here are some hopes and dreams I want to put out regarding you.

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Sometimes I think of you as the shade under a fig tree with the nearby Mediterranean sea breeze picking my hair apart in tangles. The climb to the top of Anacapri, to the vista alongside thousand year old statues of Caesar and the Sphinx, where you’ll find me sitting with a glass of limoncello. Perhaps you are the Blue Grotto, alit with an electrifying blue, and the thrill when I jump into your magical azure on a whim.

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Perhaps you are the warm cobblestones of Florence, that delicious pappa al pomodoro that I would forever call the best thing I ever ate. Perhaps you are all the museums, the mausoleums, the marble floors, the art, and the thick romance of the Italian air. Perhaps you are the ambrosial Roman sunsets.

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Sometimes you are the thunder I hear under the ground at the base of Mount Aragats or the view from Charents’ Arch looking towards Ararat; a dule of doves fly through the arch and towards their redemption–the fruit trees lining the narrow path up to Khor Virap. Perhaps you are the red poppies draping the hills of Artaz.

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Sometimes you are the blasting cold of the Northern Sea at the edge of St Abb’s Head, the sharp cliffs falling hundreds of feet below into a salt mist. Perhaps you are the rolling hills of the Highlands, the sound of wild sheep bleating, the hooves of red deer passing before the hunt, the golden eagle’s cry. Sometimes you are the ripples in the faerie pools at the Isle of Skye and the roar of the waves against the bluffs in the Hebrides.

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Sometimes you are Paris; tucked in a corner cafe across the Eiffel Tower at precisely 11 o’clock in the evening. Perhaps you are the green leather chairs at La Dome or some side bar in the Latin Quarter, still selling absinthe in old wine bottles. Perhaps you are the flower markets of Nice in the full plight of summer; the tourists past by your stand, but I know better.

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Perhaps you are the great alps of Switzerland; the train ride up to Mürren, the North Face trail winding around towards the Eiger. Perhaps you are that one hotel in Zermatt, where I wake up and see the Matterhorn just outside our bedroom window. Perhaps you are the winding trails and little hostels down the mountain that host funny travelers.

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Perhaps you are all the places I have ever been at once. You are all the feelings, the touches, the scents, the sights, the sounds.

Dear happy place, we will meet. If not all at once, I hope to capture as much of your magic in what little ways I can.

I hope we meet soon,

The bright-eyed traveler

A Weakness for Beauty

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In his unfinished novel The First Man, Albert Camus wrote “We all have a weakness for beauty.” My favorite absurdist philosopher got it all right. I am fascinated with beauty, absolutely unreservedly fascinated. In fact, my fascination is less of a distraction and more of a purpose. I live to find the beauty in everything. My friends joke and say I am a self-proclaimed aesthetics guru. While hilarious, that’s totally wrong. I am not an expert in beautiful things. That sounds ridiculous to say, probably because beauty is a complicated mess of so many things and values, it’s impossible to find something universally beautiful. What is beautiful is specific to each person, shaped by experience, environment, and the self. Rather, I make a note of scouting out all the things I can. Material things, locations, music, graphic designs, aesthetics, people…they all make up this intricate network and cause for admiration.

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I love to explore locations. I’ve always thought cities operate like clockwork. In my short life, walking cities has always been my favorite thing to do. Even before hitting the tourist spots, the first thing I did in a new place was scour the streets for hidden treasure. And my, did I find gold. One of the first cities I ever got to explore was hilly, dynamic, perennial San Francisco. Right across the bridge from my hometown, I grew up spending many weekends, days, and dinners in that dazzling city by the bay. Before, after, and in-between jobs I took the time to explore its districts. For the longest time I worked on the Embarcadero. Telegraph Hill became my Mount of Olives. I remember the first time I ever climbed up to Coit Tower by myself. My curiosity made me take a second glance at the steep zigzagging steel stairs that trailed into a verdant jungle. I could not see the endpoint, but those stairs had echoes of adventures and I couldn’t resist. As I climbed, locals–presumably the residents to the pastel dotted hill–glided down past me like clouds. 200 steps later and at my breath’s end, I reached the top. It was a quaint one way street with 360 degree vistas. The hill itself smelled of diversity, history, and opportunity. I took the chance, and it was worth it. I had a full two hours before I had to be anywhere, so I spent time going up and down streets one by one and capturing the very best of each apartment, each bus stop, and each corner laundromat. It was interesting to see the city at a quiet time of the day, because it felt like I had been taken back to a time when the city breathed and talked for itself. San Francisco’s architecture has always amazed me. Adjoined victorians and ornate reliefs littered these streets like trash. If you weren’t careful, you could miss the wonders of a century old masterpiece there in front of your eyes. It was a good couple of hours, and led me to take up this practice wherever I may be. There’s something about walking a city and collecting memories with each step. At the end of the day when my feet are swollen and legs hard, I know I’ve collected enough images and ideas.

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I think in order to be a good anything you must be intrepid. There cannot be fear of the unknown; the unknown must only pique your interest and drive you to do what you would not have done before. Climbing up those stairs and not knowing what was on the other side was a bit stupid (of course I made sure it was safe before), but definitely a risk worth taking. In any case, here’s to finding the beauty in all things. Here’s to walking the cities we call home.

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Series of Short Poems

 

Wintery Summer

everything green,

everything serene,

here in this land where we convene,

near the marine, oh how sweet is the scent of evergreens

in between this deep ravine.

 

The Writer

Black as night,

the writer sits staring into coffee grounds that help her write those stories of fright,

in the blight of spring,

when most unexpectedly the stars gleaned an azurite,

but now she heads into the floodlights,

to a new road,

taking off in flight.

 

Perpetual Spring

And now comes a time,

the girl sits back and rhymes,

at the end of the night

there’s the squeezed limes next to empty glasses,

and though it’s just March,

summertime is on her mind.

 

Pike Place

The people come and go,

flooding sidewalks like cargo,

they walk in front of her camera,

but they don’t know,

they make the perfect photo.

 

Kerouac

And on the radio are snippets of Jack Kerouac,

his deep voice resounds in the car front and back,

these girls screaming almost like they’re on prozac,

but no its just good ol’ jack and their eagerness to get out the car

and hike with their knapsacks down the ocean floor into more,

talking and talking of the world as if they were living breathing almanacs.

 

City Coffee

Yeah, early morning drives into the city of many street lights

for a good ol’ cup of joe in the pacific heights,

breaking bread,

literally toast,

and ultimately skipping class instead.

What blokes.