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We used to visit our grandparents all the time when we were little. For quite some time, they lived just 20 minutes away from our home in Los Gatos. Emily and I loved to spend the night there and ride horses, run wild with their two dogs (which we called our own) and have Grandpa Ralph read us the tale of Little Hiawatha before jumping into the trundle bed at night.

When we got a bit older, they moved up to Quincy, California (with a brief stint near the Delta in-between). It was heaven. We couldn’t wait until summer, when we could spend a week in the bright mountain sunshine, riding horses to the river, diving into snow-melt swimming holes and swinging wildly from rope swings in the oak trees.

Of course, the inevitable happened. We got even older, and life caught up with us. College, boyfriends, work and city living made it more and more difficult to make the drive up to Quincy. But I missed it — and my grandparents — dearly. So last weekend, my sister and I snagged my mom’s car and made the tricky 4 hour trek through the winding Feather River Canyon up to Quincy.

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I loved coming up here in the summer, but Fall is definitely the most beautiful time of year in Quincy. All of the black oak trees turn the most brilliant shades of gold, orange and red.

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On Saturday, my grandparents took us on a walk near their house, where they take Dakota (their adorable mini-Aussie) every day.

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The ground was littered with little gems of gold leaves from the trees.

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Two of Dakota’s friends came too: Cedar, the chocolate lab who loves to hold rocks and branches in her mouth, and Trooper, the ranch dog from down the street.

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After our walk, we let Grandpa Ralph off the hook from hanging out with the ladies, and went to downtown Quincy. I was snapping pictures left and right — it looks like a dream. I kept on thinking about Star Hollow (the town from Gilmore Girls) (I know, I’m a dork).

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Really though — we don’t get colors like this in the Bay Area.

6We went and popped in to the Quincy Museum, which was kind of amazing. They’ve restored an old house from the early 19th century to its original condition. It was quite a trip seeing all the crazy mechanisms (we were dying over the clothes washing situation — what a nightmare) you needed to get through daily life back then.

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My grandparents have collected some of the most amazing things over the years. My grandma’s walls are covered with her own (beautiful) artwork, photos of her parents and drawings by us. I loved this little wall of my grandpa’s collections in the garage, too. 

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After dinner on Saturday (and some red wine), we ambled down to the saloon at the nearby ranch for a nightcap. My sister and I both got whiskey gingers, and my grandpa got a red eye. Both felt very appropriate considering our surroundings. 

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I’d been looking forward to this trip for a while, but it’s funny, I didn’t realize how much I missed my grandparents (and Quincy) until I got there. Both are full of so many fond memories, and feel so comforting to me. I already can’t wait to go back.

Grandma, let’s go for a trail ride next time, okay?

xo

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12 Photos of Christmas

(I know, I know. It’s the second week of January. But better late than never, right?)

xo

1. Yearly Scrabble game at Mom’s IMG_3366

2. Prosciutto wrapped pear + grape saladIMG_3368

3. Mom’s antipasti plateIMG_3347

4. Our stockings that we’ve all had since we were babies. IMG_3383

5. Standard. IMG_3359

6. Seth playing with his food (pre-cooking, of course). IMG_3363

7. Isn’t my sister beautiful?IMG_3360

8. Post-present mess at Dad’s. IMG_3391

9. Miso warming up by the fireplace. IMG_3388

10. Salad + our favorite photo of Papa. He looked so much like Seth! IMG_3394

11. Potato gratin waiting to be served. IMG_3399

12. Beef tenderloin, my dad’s traditional Christmas meal, right out of the oven. IMG_3398

When I was little, I loved going to the beach. As soon as we finished the short drive over the Santa Cruz Mountains, my sister and I would scramble out of the car — ignoring our parents’ pleas to put on sunscreen — strip down to our bathing suits, and race into the water. Swimming in the Pacific Ocean is no treat (at least in my book), but we could stay in that frigid water forever. I’d float in the waves for so long, I’d still feel like I was rocking in the water when I laid down in bed that night.

Freshman year of high school, the beach started to imply very different activities. Just a quick 20 minute drive from our campus, we’d bail on biology or field hockey practice to go stick our toes in the sand. On Fridays, a caravan of cars would trek out to 41st street, where the boys would chug cheap beer and the girls would sip at sickly sweet vodka drinks around the bonfire.

Last weekend, I went to the beach for the first time in what feels like forever. You forget how numb the stark city skyline makes you until you see that first glimpse of the ocean. We spent the weekend wandering the rocky coastline — our eyes peeled for otters and sea lions — and barbecuing fish for tacos. The weekend was such a testament to this strange, in-between time of my life I’ve found myself in — while we spent our nights drinking (still cheap) beer and dancing, I still found myself rushing out at the first hint of morning sunlight to stand in the sand and gaze at the endless water.

“Because secrets do not increase in value if kept in a gore-ian lockbox, because one’s past is either made useful or else mutates and becomes cancerous. We share things for the obvious reasons: it makes us feel un-alone, it spreads the weight over a larger area, it holds the possibility of making our share lighter. And it can work either way — not simply as a pain-relief device, but, in the case of not bad news but good, as a share-the-happy-things-I’ve-seen/lessons-I’ve-learned vehicle. Or as a tool for simple connectivity for its own sake, a testing of waters, a stab at engagement with a mass of strangers.” 
― Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Sometimes marriage doesn’t seem real to me.

It’s a thing that happens to random people on Facebook. To blushing brides on TLC. To phony celebrities in US Weekly. 

It’s not that I don’t want to get married. I do. But somehow, having divorced parents can make the reality of marriage all seem like a weird dream. 

But then, one of my best friends got engaged — and all of that has suddenly changed.

My blonde sister. My fellow cat lady. My roommate, next door neighbor, and eventually — long distance love. My friend who I came crying to after some stupid frat boy broke my heart. Who I crawled into bed with to suffer hangovers together. Who I munched on toast and sipped coffee with while obsessing over HGTV. Who I planned my graduation party with, went on crazy Spring Break trips with, hosted wine and cheese nights with, danced on tables with and walked arm in arm home from the bars with.

She’s engaged. 

And now, marriage feels real.

And I couldn’t be happier that it’s happening to some of the best people I know.

Gretchen and Mike, I don’t have to wish you the best — you already have it.

xo

I’m not really a risk taker, but I love getting on the back of a motorcycle.

Time moves slower and then faster as we pick up speed  through the foggy streets and misty parks. It’s exhilarating — and scary too — to know that nothing’s holding me on but a tight grip onto my boyfriend’s jeans and a good sense of balance. The wind makes it impossible to hear or say anything, so we talk through gripped hands and shoulder squeezes in between stoplights. There’s an element of trust, a burst of adrenaline and the bonding of a shared experience that makes me want to jump in his arms as soon as we get off the bike (Plus, what guy doesn’t look amazing when riding a motorcycle?).

But instead we just stand there, grinning at each other — ready for our next adventure.

It was the last time I remember feeling free.

I was 21, and it was my first summer in Oregon.

I had a job — but barely. 20 blissful hours a week where I sat in the air conditioned Union Market, ate popsicles and blasted Bob Seger on the boombox. By some miracle I managed to scrape my paychecks together and pay for my tiny room in the attic of that house on 14th and High. For whatever reason, I was never worried about money that summer.

After my morning shift, I’d go for a long run in the blistering heat or ride my bike to the river with Kelly. I’d make us our favorite sandwiches that summer — turkey, tomato, onion and basil — and tuck a few beers or lemonade mixed with a little something into my back pack.

At night, it was still too warm to even wear a sweater. I’d slip on a sundress and let my hair dry outside while sitting barefoot on the front porch. Eventually, we’d make our way to the bar  (it was inevitable) for cheap pitchers and tacos from the taco stand.  Kelly and I would walk home, taking our sweet time and resting on neighbor’s lawns to look at the stars.

We had nowhere to be but right where we were. 

Now, whenever the weather gets warmer, I get so nostalgic for this summer that it hurts.

Remembering that time is so bittersweet — it was too perfect.