Sunday, February 3, 2013

Here We Go!

I love this.

The rumble of the van beneath by body is comforting as we journey along. Uncountable pines fly past the rain-streaked windows. A dreary, grey sky welcomes us forward. The deepest kind of fog comes and goes now and then. As eager as I become with each glowing green sign that passes by, I'm growing fond of the simple adventure of the present.

Is there a secret to the way I see the world? Is it strange to find a browning field a vast expanse of beauty? Why is it that I linger longer in the rain while others would rather protect their hair? Am I stuck in an unrealistic world...

or have I truly tasted reality?

I'm probably the only one in this bumpy vehicle that's pondering something like this. Oh well. I'll just sit here and smile to myself like a goof.

I don't know what to expect; I've never been where we are heading. A nervousness resides in the depths of my abdomen, edging on the side of nausea. But the thrill of the unknown keeps a bright and cheerful smile playing across my lips.

The idea of being squashed into a van full of 11 other people sounds disastrous. But no, its a little bit wonderful. I'm surrounded by incredible people. These are dear friends who have become family.

We share little snacks and sips of coffee. We play electronic games and borrow one another's books. We express dreams. We discover new ideas. You'd think we would get tired of each other, yet many hugs continue to be given and received. And the longer we ride together, the more my happy levels seem to increase.

4 hours have passed.

3 more to go.

Here we come Seattle, I can't wait to meet you.

Friday, January 18, 2013

New Places - Day 5

My grandmother goes to yard sales.

When I was young, oh say about 7 or 8, I would cringe at the sound of "garage sale". I had this terribly bitter taste in my mouth from being dragged all throughout the bleakest city on the face of the earth, while my grandma picked through piles of worthless junk.

She had this room near the back of her house with stacks of bins. Each bin was labeled as to organize all this stuff.

So she bought things I had no interest in, and when we got back to her house, she stored it away for the day that she would use it. The catch is... I don't believe she's used anything she's accumulated in the last 40 years.

But who am I to judge? Some people collect junk, others are addicted to butterfinger candy bars.

As I grew up, a new love was birthed in the belly of my heart. I don't think hearts actually have a belly, but you get what I mean.

I have this weird new way of seeing something for what it could be in the future. There's such joy in finding incredible treasures for less than a dollar. In fact, a lot of my room decor is made up of wonderful things I found at a garage sale or thrift store.

I've had people say things such as "OH MY GOSH WHERE DID YOU GET THAT?"

My reply?

"Oh, just a yard sale. The lady actually just gave it to me for free."

On my journey throughout this week of exploring new places, I stumbled upon something quite grand. I didn't even mean to go there today, it was an accident. It just so happened that when I parked, I was staring into the face of a glorious sign...

The Collector's Market

Oh my.

Once I had finished what I had drove there to do in another store, I made the decision to embark into the unknown world of this market.

When I walked in, I was happily greeted by what I had expected. Tons of treasures. The first little bit that my eyes began to sift through could be summed up by one word. Soft.

Everything was vintage, and white and cream and pastel. Hand knit blankets, antique children's furniture, white lace curtains, 50 year old lamp stands and fluffy pillows galore. The whole place was divided into these little cubicles full of items from a specific vendor. So every time you took another three steps, the scenery changed again and again. And again. But for the better.

Just when I thought I was in the 5th dimension for the yard sale lover, I saw something so exciting.

There was more to this enchanting world. There was a lot more. A BUNCH more.

An entire warehouse full of probably a hundred booths!!!

So there Taylor was. Walking slower than an elderly man with a broken knee. Skimming and digging and taking in all of the wonderful items. She made sure to look at every little thing she possibly could. She would sometimes stand there in total awe of some painting, antique stool and Native American Rug.

She was so careful as not to miss a single thing. Every little button. Each aging telephone. All the different leather shoes and jackets.

Surrounded by the wooden and the worn. Enveloped in antiquated jewels.

Not only was everything so impossibly marvelous, but there were so many things that breathed inspiration into my soul. My bones began to dance within me at the sight of such potential.

As an artist I soak things within me for later use. I have dreams of creating things, and a place like this is more than fuel to a flame.

           It's the dream behind the vision. The vision that sparks reality.

I couldn't help myself. I must have circled through each and every booth at least three times. I didn't want to leave. Nothing inside of me, except the to-do list awaiting my attention, wanted to depart.

So I guess the moment unfortunately came when I had to go. Plus I don't think the owner would really appreciate my spending the night there. That's a bit over the line.

Of all the dazzling things my eyes grabbed hold of today, I only walked away with one item.

I got a lovely gold-colored watch with a woven chain.

              For two dollars.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Places - Day 4

This is such an amazing place.

The whole day has been filled with fog. The ground has been frosty, the bushes frozen in place, and the clouds just won't life higher than the rooftops.

It seems like it's bound to continue in this slow, gloomy way.

I have a half hour or so drive from my home to where I attend college. I find myself griping about this once in a while...maybe often. It's not a fun drive when gas doesn't have a reputation for being easy on the wallet. or easy on the pockets if that's where you prefer to stash your cash.

Oh, but today I actually found myself excited that I live a bit of a distance.

As I drove closer and closer to my home, the fog began to slowly lift. Higher and higher, the clouds danced away. Until...what is that I see? Blue? A blue sky?

It's been so long since I have seen something so gorgeous.

So I have to say, the drive to this distant, far away land I call home put me in a very good mood.

I drove along the sunny roads that run along with the river, until I found exactly what I was looking for.

I pulled in to the gravel - it's not exactly a parking lot - and come to a stop.

And then I was finally there. The old, historic, Butte Creek Mill.

I've literally drove by this place for years and years. I've seen it out the backseat window as my parents zoomed by on our way to the middle school years ago. I've even walked by the old, wooden structure and wondered to myself what it's like inside.

I've heard the stories of those lucky ones who've already dared to enter. I've seen people with items from the Mill Store in their pantries and on their counter tops. I've even attempted to make cookies using their flour!

But now, my friends, the day has officially come. Taylor has visited the Mill all on her own.

Once I am released from my car, I just stand and look up. The roof is so tall, so wooden, and so ancient it seems. The point reached so far into the beautiful, blue winter sky. And right up at the top it reads "Butte Creek Mill". No, ladies and gentlemen, not the BUTT creek.

I could have actually been happy to just observe all the great treasures on the porch. I mean, there were old signs everywhere that kept me intrigued for quite a long time. The rustic, soft blue bench beckoned for a picture to be taken. The large covering gave the perfect amount of shelter from the wintry breeze, while the sun shone down and warmed my body.

I was so intrigued that I almost forgot to go inside.

Just when I seemed to be getting used to the atmosphere, I was blown away again.

The rich smell of aged wood rushed into my lungs. I was sure I walked straight into the 1800s. I was completely surrounded by some of the most gorgeous antiques I have ever seen.

Gas signs, indian statues, rusted mail boxes, post cards, wheat barrels.... and about a thousand other treasures.

There was this little white door with a sign that said "milling room". There was a window imbedded into the door that I soon found my nose pressed against.

What I found literally filled me with wonder. There were men working around like little bees, all wearing masks. They were carrying big bags of flour around and filling bins full of oats.

       They reminded me of oompa loompas.

But that wasnt all there was to see....

To my left there was an even more exciting door to pass through. When I walked through the glorious threshold, I was greeted by a wonderful array of goodies.

Organic flour, oatmeal, cookie mix, corn bread, molasses, loose leaf tea, olive oils, and basically every seasoning ever known to man- women too.

Each and every detail was authentic, inspiring, fresh and on the healthful side of life. There was a huge and incredible wood stove that was heating the little place. There was even a pot of cinnamon on top that painted the air with a delicious aroma.

And oh..OH. There was an ancient refrigerator with some of my most favorite drinks in the whole world. Martinellis, jones soda, and... Henry Weinhard's rootbeer and cream soda. Cream soda!!

So I grabbed myself an ice cold beverage and carried it to the giant counter. There was only one older lady working. She had short, blonde hair drizzled with gray. She wore glasses that I'd expect on a librarian.

It was truly one of the greatest places I have ever been. So historic. So great.

And the greatest part about it... its right down the street from my home.

If im know where to find me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Places - Day 3


Soft, golden tones seem to float around this place.

The lighting is just perfect. The colors drenched upon the walls are inviting and calm. Even the ceiling is painted as the sky. What a wonderful escape from a foggy, bitterly cold winter.

The fresh, soothing smell of roasted coffee surounds my senses and fills me with delight.

When we first walk through the gently open doors, we scan for a place to sit. Tables and chairs? The bench beneath the window? Ah yes, the cozy leather couch near the fire place. Unfortunately the fire wasn't lit, but the view was spectacular- a large, stone centerpiece in the midst of an Italian themed cafe. Just perfect.

We set down our book bags and purses to save such a splendid spot, and eagerly head for the counter.

Typically I'm the kind of person who spends an unnatural amount of time deciding what she wants to order. It doesn't matter where I'm at...the grocery store, the coffee stand or a vending machine.

Hopefully I'm not so bad when the day comes and a man asks me to marry him. Imagine that...the guy on his knee for 20 minutes while I stare off into the distance pondering what to say.


Today was one of those "once in a lifetime" moments. As we approached the counter, there was a HUGE sign that advertised a beautiful cup of steaming hot spicy chai. Oh goodness, I knew exactly what I wanted before I got to the counter.

I liked the girl at the counter. She was kind of short, with straight brown hair and super great glasses. And she had a kind voice.

Both the girls working were strangely familiar. That's always an odd feeling when you can't seem to place where you know someone from.

Well, sadly, the spicy chai was a little...too...spicy. Oh lord, it seriously burned my throat. But! No fear! My darling friend ordered a regular chai (made with chai powder, which is obviously the best in the world) . So I drank off of hers instead.

Not only was the chai delicious as it rolled down into my belly, warmed my insides and made my taste buds sing, but we also ordered a feta spinach croissant! Oh my gosh, it was heaven on earth, angels dancing on our tongues. Literal angels...dancing.

Overall, it was a lovely afternoon. I always adore spending quality time with my sweet friend. The atmosphere was friendly, quiet, and all around spectacular. The decor was beautiful, the staff friendly, and the other customers seemed at ease.

And oh my, the music playlist was right up my alley. So comfortable. I also discovered some fantastic new music artists thanks to my SoundHound app!

I'm so happy we went to Mellelos Coffee Roasters today.

We even saw a young woman laying down, curled in the corner on the bench beneath the window, reading a book.

She wore sneakers.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Places - Day 2

Oh no. Oh no.

I repeated this to myself as I groggily opened my eyes. There's nothing like feeling yucky and realizing you have a thousand things to get done for the day.

Among all the other duties, one stuck out to me - what am I going to write about today? I mean, I'm not exactly in prime condition to go out and find myself a nice new adventure. No thank you, I think I'll pass.

But at the same time, I committed to going somewhere new every day for the next week. And today would mark only the 2nd day. Oy.

Well, lucky me, I got to drive to wall mart tonight to pick up a prescription. Which, in and of itself was a bit of an adventure. I can't say I've ever picked up a prescription from there before. And I'm not exactly fond of pharmacys. They kind of creep me out to be honest.

As I waited in line, I thought about possibly writing of the pharmacy. So I began to soak in all the little details that I could. Thankfully they were going pretty slow.

I stood there awkwardly. I'm actually pretty good at this, I have to say. I do it often.

   There was a woman in front of me. No, she wasn't standing like I was. She was rather large, sitting in one of those motorized shopping carts my mom used to tell me not to touch when I was young. The back of the seat had some fabric with painted tire treads. Strange, I know.

She wore a large hat. She owned a very large purse. And when she spoke, her voice was very large as well.

As I was taking this all in - the whole thing - a man turned and looked at me. He was in another one of those motor carts, parked right next to the woman. He was quite the opposite though. He was very skinny. Even his cart was smaller it seemed. And he didn't have a purse.

They were both older, I'd say in their 60s or so. But I'm kind of bad at estimating ages.

He looked at me for a substantially long time while the woman continued to talk to him in a seriously loud tone.

I was slightly uncomfortable.

So rather than staring back at him with a goofy look on my face (this was a tempting thing to do) I began observing the isle I was standing in.

Ewe, I really don't like pharmacys.

There were rows and rows of neatly displayed bottles and boxes. Not the kinds of bottles and boxes I'd prefer. You know, bottles of root beer and boxes of animal crackers? No, just a bunch of medications, pills, supplements, eye drops and awkward pregnancy tests. Rows of accumulated remedies for weird bodily functions.

Everything was clean... too clean. It was like someone with an official looking badge on their chest dowsed the place with Lysol.

There were also hexagonal-shaped boxes filled with different kinds of 'necessities' like Carmex lip balm and Pepto Bismol. They were so neatly displayed that I couldn't even bring myself to dink around and touch the chap stick in the box.

Why was I so bothered by this place? I mean, I see this kind of stuff every now and then. Yes, I'll admit I've even had to take things like Pepto Bismol. I'm sure you have too. But maybe it was because it was all accumulated in one place. It all reminded me of sickness. It's crazy to me how much our country deals with disease and bad living habits.

When I looked straight ahead, I saw behind the counter. There were rows and rows and ROWS of prescriptions that had been filled and were waiting to be picked up. My goodness, are there really that many people on their way to grab yet another medication?

How many people just in America alone live day to day having to pop another pill or three?

These thoughts were overwhelming. And the longer that time went on, I kind of wanted to yell "Let's all just go eat our vegetables!!"

But I didn't.

When it was finally my turn and the motorized customers zoomed away, I tentatively walked up to the lady at the counter. She looked flustered and stressed, so I did my best to be kind. I even made her giggle a little when I made fun of myself for not remembering my pin number. Score!

Right after I paid and was eagerly turning to leave, the lady told me to wait.

Oh no! She is going to stuff me in a chair in the back and shove medicated syrup down my throat as punishment for not liking the pharmacy!

"We just have to go over your prescription with you over at the window over there. Just to explain how to use it."

Oh.. I guess that isn't so bad.

I was greeted at the window - wait no, I wasn't greeted, I was looked at - by a very tall man with a pure white mustache.

     "Have you taken this before?" His voice was so monotone.

"Uh, no."

      "Take one pill every four to six hours with water."

"Okay, thank you."

Really? I couldn't have just read the bottle? Oh well, at least I got to encounter a bright white mustache.

And then the moment came. I was free. Free I tell you, free!!

I don't want to ever have to go back there.

          I'm sorry if that's not very nice.

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Places - Day 1

      Just to give a brief introduction: Now that I have written for an entire week about meeting some incredible new people, I've decided to start a new week-long series. This one should be pretty cool, and I REALLY hope you enjoy! I am going to try to visit 7 new places these next 7 days. And then I'm going to scurry to my clackety keyboard and share my adventures with all of you. So, jump in the car with me! Let's take a drive and find some new and wonderful places to visit! Maybe we'll grab a bite to eat on the way? I'll buy - my treat.


The Bookmark

I drive by this little place every now and then. It's such a small town; I'm surprised I ever noticed it.

The building is a bit worn out and aged. Ancient white paint all cracked and weathered clings to the exterior. Which I actually prefer... I feel invited.

I usually wonder what it's like inside and I'll ponder stopping by once in a while. But I never do. At least, not till today.

I drive down the street slowly, trying to find a spot along the sidewalk to park my gas-deprived car.

I'm so excited to get inside, but I calm myself and slow my walking pace as I approach the door. I wouldn't want to scare the people inside.

I'm not really sure what to expect from a tiny second-hand book shop. Well, obviously there's bound to be some books. Otherwise I'd be a bit nervous.

When I open the slightly heavy glass door, that's exactly what I'm greeted by. Books. No, not tidy rows of neatly organized genres.


Shelves, rows, rooms, stacks, bins, counter tops - even the floor. There are books everywhere.

And what's even better? They all look like they've certainly been used. They've been held, and cuddled beneath small lamps. They've traveled from here to there, store to home, hand to backpack, grandfather to grandson... all to end up here in this wonderfully dusty pile of a place.

I swear I couldn't breathe for a few seconds. For some weird and silly feeling, this was all so beautiful.


Oh! There must be billions of words surrounding me! All of them so still and quiet as they sit among the others, yet so loud and obnoxious as they call out for my eyes to feast upon them.

I probably looked absolutely ridiculous as the lady welcomed me to her paper-filled wonderland.

"Hi there, young lady. What can I do for you?" She was so short, and round, and I was sure her smile came straight off the cover of a Betty Crocker cookbook. She even had poofy hair.

"Hello, I'm just looking, thank you." I tried to make eye contact, but my wandering eye balls just wouldn't obey.

       "Well, what do you like to read? Maybe I could help you find a good book?"

A good book? I stood there imagining all the incredible stories I could get my mind wrapped around.

         "I love to read just about anything. I think I'l just look around."

She laughed  warmly before responding. It was a laugh that seemed to say "I've seen this before."

         "Well you go on ahead and wander around. If you follow that arrow, just keep walking through the         doorways to each room until you can't go no further."

I thanked her as I found the big, yellow arrow she was pointing at. I figured there was only one more room.

I was so wrong.

The store seemed so very tiny and filled to the brim with books, but it never ended! I slowly walked through the first door. Then the second. Then the third. Then... oh my golly gosh a fourth! I was afraid I'd get lost!

But it was all so incredible. With every step, I fell deeper into a new kind of typed and printed, bottomless world.

I don't exactly know how it happened, but I soon found myself sitting cross-legged on the musty carpet reading through random books that grabbed my attention.

It was lovely.

After a while, the kind, round lady came and found me there on the floor and talked with me for a little bit. Her name is Madeline. I really adore that name. And that place. And all the stunning piles of books.

I also discovered one of the best things ever: I can bring in my old books and trade them for new ones from within the store.

It changed my life today.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Stranger's Story - Day 7

I see you now and then.

    Normally when I'm working in the cafe on a Wednesday night. Yet I always seem to forget your name, and I really wish I could remember.

I like you, I really do. You're always so kind. And you like your coffee drenched in loads of caramel syrup.

I really like caramel, too. I guess that means we have something in common.

Today was pretty normal. You came up to the counter as do all other customers. Well, once in a while some first-timers go to the "Pick Up" side. Then we kindly direct them to the correct counter. Sometimes we roll our eyes. That's not very nice, but it happens.


You came to the correct counter and ordered your usual. But rather than walking over to the other side to pick up your drink, you stopped right in front of me. You rested your chin on the high counter top and watched me pour sugary substances into a paper cup.

At first I didn't notice you, but when I looked up.... I smiled.

I expected you to return the facial gesture like usual, and you did. But it wasn't genuine.

                    It was forced.

I asked you how you were doing. You just looked down and shook your head.

I knew you've been ill for quite some time. So I thought perhaps you just weren't feeling well.


                     And then you started to cry.

   It took me off guard. But I followed my impulse.

I set down everything in my hands and ran out from behind the counter. Honestly, I disregarded the line of drinks I was working on. Perhaps I frustrated the others working by just randomly leaving. But it was all so worth it.

So I came to you and I hugged you.

There I was, in the middle of a crowd of people awaiting caffeinated beverages, holding an older lady while she cried.

When you released your embrace, you told me you had just found out your grandson had died. That's all you said. And you looked into my eyes with a look of "why?".

I had nothing to say that could heal the pain... such a fresh wound, still bleeding and throbbing. It wasn't time for a bandage yet.

My heart nearly stopped and tears began to well up in my own eyes. So I did what I could, and I asked if I could just pray for you.

I prayed that God would bring you comfort, and help you through this difficult time. As much as I believe that He will, it still tore me up inside to see you go through this.

I'm so sorry.

I really wish I could remember your name.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Stranger's Story - Day 6

You...are so jolly.

There is so much to Soak in, so many things to look at in a place like this. Rows of booths all filled to the brim with products, brochures and frilly looking chocolates. Table after table full of information for each and every bride to be. Eager salesmen and women standing ready to answer your questions - all with the hope of landing some clients.

"You there. Yea, you look like you could use a nice honeymoon trip?"

"No. I'm not getting married."

"Hey there, have you set a date yet?!"

"Uh, no, I'm not getting married"

"Oh, honey, have you found your dress for the special day? I have the perfect one for you!"

"Oh, no thank you. I'm not getting married...."

Oh, what a terrible place for a young, unengaged blonde to be. I honestly just enjoyed looking at all the pretty stuff I seemed to be swimming in. And day-dreaming of course. Lots and lots of day-dreaming.

Goodness, if I've learned one thing from this eventful day: weddings are WAY too much work.

As I'm wandering around without any marital intentions, I hear something.

Something happy.

It's you. And your loud, joyful voice.

To be entirely honest, you remind me of a skinny Santa Claus. But not the creepy kind... Just happy.

You own a video business used for weddings. "Capturing the most special moments of your life."

You had a few screens set up on a table. I was under the impression that they were merely running a slide show. But ohhhh no, you quickly informed me that it was a video...with sound.

Apparently the event didn't allow for individual booths to have their own "sound-making devices". So you, mr. Smarty Pants, had the grand idea to have head phones available.

So I pondered to myself if I would actually take the time to listen to your "capturing-special-moments-video".

And then you did it. You offered me a dollar.

"In fact, I'll give you a dollar to watch my video. Here! Here, take a dollar. And go put on those head phones. And lookey here! The red flower makes it louder and the blue flower makes it quieter. That way YOU can determine the volume all yourself!"


So I watched your video. The whole thing. From beginning to end. I even read all the words you threw on the screen.

When all was said and done, after the headphones were off and the smiles exchanged and each and every goodbye received... I walked away very happy.

Although at first glance you seem like just another jolly old man, I can tell that you have a very deep soul. You see beauty. You see something so special in a wedding day. You seem to appreciate love and dear moments. And I could see that you do your best to capture those moments for people to hold on to forever.

You were my favorite person out of the entire show.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Stranger's Story - Day 5

   I've seen you before.

Multiple times, actually.

I've seen you working, making coffee and greeting customers. You've helped me before. You even asked me how my day was going.

You're nice.

As many times as I have seen you, I've disregarded the idea of introducing myself. Why? Because I feel like the appropriate moment passed so long ago. I know it's probably all in my head... but, nonetheless, I continued to pretend like I've never seen you before.

But finally! The moment came.

I'm  not a creep, I swear it. I'm just observant. I remember people pretty easily. But what is worse... I even know your name. I know a few of your friends. I've heard people talk about you - good things, don't worry.

I was attempting to do some homework. Haha, yea, attempting would be the key word. Instead, I found myself lost in the world of a fellow blogger, lusting over home decor.

For some reason I decided to look up. You were with someone I knew, so I guess it made it less awkward for us both. Luckily, I didn't introduce myself out of the blue like I had imagined in my head. He just took the moment to introduce us both.

I could have just acted like this was the first time I've ever seen you. I could have acted as though I never heard your name before.

      But I decided to be honest with you.

I bashfully admitted that I've known of you. I told you of the embarrassingly long time it's taken for me to work up the courage to just say "Hi, my name is Taylor"

            Well, the good thing is... you felt the same exact way! Oh! What a relief it was to know that i wasn't alone in my silence. And to think, that all this time, you recognized my face and knew my name.

It was a pleasure to meet you, sir. You have a very awesome laugh - it's deep and full.

You seem like you have some big dreams. Big things you want to do with your life. And you seem like you love God a lot. But what do I know?

I know you now.

  Well, I guess this is a good thing.

             Because, now when I see you at the counter, I can say hello.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Stranger's Story - Day 4

"Why do they make you get out of your car?"

I wonder this to myself every single time I go to that specific gas station. Not only do they force you to leave your cozy, warm bubble, but they charge an extra $0.35 for using your debit card. As if gas isn't already a brutal weekly expense.

My friend and I walk briskly towards the little market. We don't say much, for the small place is eerily quiet while people wait in line to pay for their purchases. We just kind of stand there. Waiting.

Once I've handed the short man a whole ten dollar bill, we head towards the door and walk back out into the night.

We're halfway to my car, and I hear an unfamiliar voice.

"I love your boots! Both of you guys, they're so cute!"

  My friend responds with a smile in her voice, thanking you for the kind compliment.

It was a passing comment. Something quickly blurted from point A to point B. Just a small intersection.

You asked where we got our leathery footwear, and I admitted that my friend had the real deal - mine were just the cheap version.

"Well I love them both!"

In that extremely short amount of time, we not only thanked you, but we asked your name and we told you ours. You said you worked just across the way, down at the little pizza parlor. Then we said goodbye.

             I liked you.

A week passed. I might have thought of you once or twice when I drove by the pizza place. In fact, because you brought my attention to the reality of there even being a pizza parlor in this small town, our family went to lunch there.

We absolutely loved it, by the way. Incredible food, fun atmosphere. I'm glad we went.

Another week or so passes. I haven't really thought about that night at the gas station.

My mom calls me while I'm driving home - yes, I know that it's illegal to talk on your phone while driving... i'm terribly sorry.She asks me to stop by that little pizza place and pick up something for our family game night. Woo! I'm excited for some delicious pizza.

When I walk in, a slightly moody girl with dark black hair asks what she can do for me.

     I'm kind of flustered. I don't really know what I'm ordering quite yet, but I feel the pressure of having to know right away. Actually, I'm not even using my own money. I'll have to call my mom to get her credit card number. All of this is kind of overwhelming for some reason.

"Uh... I'm not sure yet... sorry."

So I just stand there, awkwardly. Here I am, this short blonde thing with a doofy confused look on her face.

Once I compose myself, I walk to the counter. That girl just sort of stares at me. Waiting for me to say something.

  "Do you want a menu or something?"

"No thanks."

Why did I say that?! Yes, i would love a menu because my mind has gone completely blank! But instead, I just stare at the soda machine.

A few more painful moments pass and I finally work up the courage to ask for a menu.

"Actually, uh, I guess I'll look at a menu."

So I call my mom. Ask her what she would like. I find a bit of comfort in having an excuse not to engage in eye contact with Moody Counter Lady.

   "Taylor! Hey!"

What the? Oh great, someone I know is here to witness this?

                            And there you were. Mindy. 

You had that same kind smile spread across your face as you did at the gas station. And for some reason, your kindness and the fact that you remembered my name seemed to set me at ease.

When I hung up with my mom, you talked with me. You told Moody that you could take over the order. (That made me so happy.) As she walked away, you offered me some water and a place to sit at some cozy couches.

Mindy, I really enjoyed talking with you while I waited for the pizza to be done. You weren't only friendly, but you asked me questions and started a great conversation. You made me feel a whole lot more comfortable then when I first walked in.

I think I'll see you again. And I think we just might become friends.

                I think I need to go back and get some more pizza.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Stranger's Story - Day 3

I don't normally do this.

Actually, I don't think I ever have.

The biting chill of winter's breath dug into my bones. The stars were invisible; as if the low temperatures weren't enough, there was an icy mist dancing slowly through the air.

I found very little comfort once I closed the door of my car and started the engine. It would be a while before the heater dared to give me some warmth.

I backed out, and continued on home. I drove slowly through the parking lot, stopping for an occasional car or pedestrian. I was just about out of the exit...

                                      and there you were.

          Dirty face. Layers of rags. Long, auburn dreadlocks.

   I smiled at you. Both of you, for you were sitting with a guy who matched your appearance.

  And I began to drive away.

I thank God for roundabouts. I thought I hated them - going in a circle that is just bound to run you into some idiot driver. But now I'm grateful for those circular death traps of concrete. Because just when i was about to  move on with my life and drive far away from where you sat... i felt the intense need to go back to you. So I went all the way around the circle and headed your way.

The feelings in my gut bubbled into my head. I wondered to myself if this was ridiculously stupid. But I soon felt peace.

                This was what I needed to do.

I parked fairly close to where you guys were sitting - just a few yards away. I unbuckled my seat belt and stepped back into the unforgiving January night. But each step was worth it.

I approached you, and you looked up at me. There was decay embedded in your smile, but you were beautiful all the same. It was a genuine smile.  a humble smile.

  I handed you $2... it was truly all I had to spare.

   I've heard people say not to give money away like that because "those kind of people" will just turn around and buy something like drugs and the such. But I didn't care one bit.

I didn't care how many have called you "that kind of person". Because, to me, you are a young girl who has a story. You have a life. You have a soul. You have dreams deep inside your worn out heart that whispers to you every now and then. You've probably walked through hell lately. Who am I to label you?

I talked with you guys, asked how you were. You seemed so grateful for two dollars. You said it meant two cheese burgers for two people from McDonald's. Two meals for a pair of hungry, wandering, homeless people.

Both of you were so kind; i didn't feel uncomfortable in the least bit. With every word each of us spoke, I felt a deeper sadness within me towards you. I wanted to take you home with me, give you a hot shower and a place to stay. I wanted to fix everything if I could. But I couldn't... so I gave you what I knew I could.

Perhaps it was just a few dollars, a bit of my time, and the invitation to a church service. But I hope you know I wish and pray the absolute best for you. For both of you.

                    It was so nice to meet you, Amber.
                         In fact, I truly hope to see you soon.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Stranger's Story - Day 2

Your name is Kitty.

I pulled up to the Starbucks parking lot. You had the hood of your rusty, old car propped up - like a giant, open mouth awaiting surgery.

I was sure that the truck parked in front of you was in a position to assist you. But the big, burly man within the rumbling vehicle decided to back up and zoom off to some unknown destination.

How strange....that a man wouldn't bother to assist an older, stranded lady and her sad-looking machine.

So I made the decision- right then and there-to back up my little car and pull up in front of you. I hopped out into the icy air and rushed to the drivers side where you were sitting.

If I remember correctly, you were wearing a big, cozy sweater. It was baby blue, and a large Tweety Bird smiled back at me.

Can birds even smile?

You seemed so sweet, but quite distressed.

"Hey there, you need any help?"

"Oh, yes i do! My car died; i have jumper cables, but i just need someone to help me out."

"Well I would love to help! I'll pop my hood."

The look on your face was indescribable. You looked shocked that I was willing to help. You you looked so relieved.

That look on your face has been the best part of my day.

I can't even explain how wonderful it felt to help you. I got everything all hooked up, but it wouldn't start. I wasn't about to give up so soon.

We decided to give my jumper cables a go - yours were honestly pretty rusty. Perhaps it was fitting for your cables to match your car?

Once I hooked everything up again, we tried to bring your little car to life.
You poked your head out your door and gave me a thumbs up.

We both smiled.

As we got cables unhooked and hoods closed, you continued to thank me. Over and over again. You said it can be so hard to find young people who are willing to help.

This terrible fact saddened me. It weighed on my heart so very heavily. How is it that our generation has come to this?

Regardless of the pain your statement brought, I was absolutely overjoyed at the opportunity to help you. Before we parted ways, you said God bless.

We hugged.

This marks the second day I've received a hug from a stranger..... I think I could get used to this.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Stranger's Story - Day One

I've realized something.

In the midst of living day to day, I have discovered I have a habit. Perhaps it could be taken as a bad habit. But there's a chance this strange addiction of mine has sparked an idea overflowing with the grandeur of creativity.

I, Taylor, have a habit of people watching.

In fact, not only do I watch people, but I study them. I observe them. I listen. I take in their body language, their facial expressions, their decision of attire, the tapping of their foot and the shortness of their breath. I evaluate. I analyze, inspect and scrutinize. I observe each and every detail my mind can possibly soak in.

Is this a problem? Hmm, possibly.

Do I care?      
                  Not really.

In fact, I think I've actually inspired my own self. Is that allowed? I've not only observed those around me, but i've pondered myself and decided to make something of this slightly creepy habit I've developed.

I am going to choose one person each day. Just one. Someone who has caught my eye, who I have met during my daily activities, or who I randomly remember. The goal is to write for 2 weeks straight.... about strangers.

Want to join me in some daily people-watching?
                        It's fun, I promise.

Day 1

  The store is so large. So spacious, yet so full of shiny, fragrant and girly treasures. Everywhere I turn, my glowing eyes are greeted with all kinds of perfumes, hair products, facial cleansers and puffy little pink wash cloths. 
Everything I see calls out to me......

             "Taylor! Taylor! Buy me! Buy me! Oh, you know you need me."

     "You'll look fantastic and fresh if you use me!"

                     "I'll make you smell like a goddess!"

"Come over here, deary, I'll make your wildest dreams come true."

                                     I am overwhelmed. 

Within the iron grasp of my small, clammy hand is an incredible little piece of plastic - a gift card. An Ulta gift card, to be exact. 

There's countless, amazing things I could purchase. The options are so many I think I'm hyperventilating. 

I wander through the isles - slowly, carefully. I observe each item sitting on the pure, white shelves. I imagine deep in my mind what each product could possibly do for me. This or that, this or that, this....or that. Should I spend this much? Should I use this free money towards something more expensive that I wouldn't normally buy for myself? Should I buy a bunch of smaller items to satisfy my daily needs?

One half of the store is substantially cheaper than the other. One side holds the basic, simple products I've used for years. But, oh! The other side of the store calls out to me in her seductive, silky way. 

The closer I come to the other side, the more everything seems to sparkle. 

It's so beautiful.

But I quickly drag my mind back to the devastating truth..... I only have a certain amount to spend. And I have no idea where to begin with products such as these. I know next to nothing about this gorgeous world of high-end cosmetics.

                         And that is when it happened.

I scanned the giant store for someone to hopefully assist my clueless mind. 

Then I found you.

You were standing there, over a middle-aged woman with pink hair. Your back was to me, but somehow I had a feeling you were going to be pretty. The closer I came, I soon realized what you were doing. 

You were waxing pink-head's eyebrows.  She looked in pain, but trusting towards you.

I cautiously approached, for I dare not intrude on this painful procedure. But you sensed I was there. Or maybe it was the girl's gaze towards me that tipped you off. Either way, you turned around.

In all honesty, my first impression didn't feel very good. You seemed nice, you did. But I think it was your physical appearance that made me feel a bit uneasy. The first detail I noticed, was your black nails. You had short, stylish and slightly punkish, red hair. At first, I thought you might be annoyed that I was interrupting your waxing activities.

But you smiled at me and asked if you could help.

"I just need some help choosing some bare minerals makeup. When you have a moment."

"Okay, I'll be done in just 2 minutes, that okay?", you said so kindly.

"That's quite alright, I'm in no hurry." I did my best to respond just as kind.

      "Well in that case, I'll be 5 minutes."

We both laughed a little. It was more of a giggle on each of our parts.

                      And that's the moment I decided I liked you.

As you began to help me on my venture into choosing a product that was suitable for me, I grew fonder and fonder of you. I already sensed you were a mother - a really good one at that, but what do I know? When you asked me to sit down at the mirror so you could apply a certain brand of makeup, I hesitated. I did this, because I knew that in order to apply new makeup, you were going to remove what I had on my face. That meant that each and every blemish upon my uneven skin would be visible to you... just a a foot away from your eyes.

           I felt so vulnerable.

But I chose to sit down, 
because I knew you were kind.

You spent over a half hour with me. You not only helped me make the best decision for a purchase, but you spent the time to explain, teach and talk with me. You taught me about things I've always wished I knew. You helped me understand my skin, and taught me little tricks I'm sure I'll use every day. 

But not only did you teach me about facials and makeup application, but you shared with me who you were and where you came from. 

I so thoroughly enjoyed learning about your internship with high class makeup artists, your journey from Portland, your ideas and the fact that you like to save money. 

And I was right, you are a mother. A mother of three boys.

My new found friend. You helped me decide on the absolute perfect purchase. And you even convinced the cashier to use a coupon that wasn't valid, just so I could save some extra money.

And before I said goodbye, we hugged. 

You told me to come back soon, even just to visit and I agreed easily. I left that store without that magical piece of money-containing plastic, and left with a warmed heart and a new friend. 

                     The new things I bought were just a bonus.