My nose, one of my greater assets in the soap business, was out of commission yesterday. I came down with a cold in the morning and in the rare moments during the day that I could breathe, I couldn’t smell anything. Not even a hint. I put pure peppermint and eucalyptus oil over my nose and people could smell it from a few feet away and while it made my eyes squint, I hadn’t a clue what it smelled like.
Thankfully I could smell hints by the evening as Kari came over and we developed a men’s shaving bar for her company Belvedere and when we weren’t soap making we pulled out the banjo and a guitar and watched a youtube video trying to figure out how to play a few chords! We had little success but that’s a very minor detail.
We haven’t seen much of each other this year, which is always hard, she moved into the city some time ago now and I haven’t made as many trips to the city as I used to so our hang outs are few and far between. It was nice to catch up. She told me of the job interviews she’s been going on and developing her products for the year and we talked a little about my trip and how much I really want to see my mom’s side of the family before I go. She seemed to understand the need to dig down to my roots and be reminded of a side of the family I barely know. I’ve always been so reserved and to myself when it came to family things. I haven’t a clue why or where it started but I just wasn’t much of a family person. It feels cruel to say because it wasn’t anything personal, it just was what it was. I always felt shy or awkward at family events and never really felt like myself which is probably why it was so hard. It isn’t easy to feel like you aren’t yourself, but this year I’ve become so much more appreciative of family. I’ve thought highly of them for a long time, knowing how lucky I’ve been, even despite my unruly teenaged years, but I actually appreciate them now. I have wonderful memories of visiting my grandma in Saskatchewan and playing Atari in the basement while the laundry sloshed away. We’d play crib at the dinner table and I remember once for a holiday meal I got asked to say grace. This was not a normal practice around our house and the only exposure I had to saying grace was my grandpa whose utterances I couldn’t make out as any words of any kind. I didn’t mean to be rude but I just didn’t really understand so I muttered some noises, lacking words, and I remember getting a darting glare for my apparent brashness. It’s funny now… but I remember inside it was like my shoulders hiked up a shrug because what else was I supposed to say? So while it probably won’t look the same anymore it’d be nice to make some adult memories of my family and not have to worry if I called or wrote they'll be mentally flipping through the card catalog, "uhhh... Christina...??" Right now, I feel like the unknown granddaughter, niece and cousin. This is something I’d like to change. I might even have to start a postcard writing campaign. "Dear Family... ... ... -from your once estranged relative"
Speaking of family relations, this morning I had the opportunity to talk with my boss. He’s so stressed out, he doesn't have to say a word, it seeps out his pores. We’re kind of alike and so I told him he needed to take some time off and whisk his daughter away to Germany and show it off to her. I think in a lot of ways their own relationship might benefit from good quality time where he can't be distracted by work. He’s told me before he’d love to live there and while that's not entirely a possibility for him right now I really think there’s something invigorating about travel but also getting to expose someone else to something you really love. There was a quote in Blue Like Jazz where Donald Miller says, “Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way." I know that she probably won’t need his help but I think there’s something to be said even for the process of showing someone something you care so much about. It’s good for the soul. So for every way that he's helped me to do things good for my soul, I hope he will take his own advice and start living life a little more and enjoying what he has.
On the tangent of Donald Miller books, they reawakened reading for me a bit some years ago. I struggled for a long time with having anything I wanted to read but he wrote about his life and I appreciated his honesty about things whether in struggle or in triumph. His first book, Through Painted Deserts, remains my favorite. It’s about a road trip he took from Texas to Oregon with one of his friends and how everyone needs that time to leave home so you can more fully appreciate where you came from but also so that you come to a place where you really know yourself and soak yourself in the human experience. They laugh about everything that goes wrong, the antics and everything that made him feel more alive. It’s one of the only books I didn’t pack up for this season because I know that it’s one I might want to reread because I feel like I'm finally getting my chance to do something similar. A nice reminder while on the train, or in one of my early morning reading sessions.