Dear Beautiful Girl - California

Dear Beautiful Girl-

My grandmother’s hands are holding your hands are holding my mother’s hands are holding my own.

California is a wrecking place for me, but long before the ghosts that haunt these highways and doorways and skies took up residence, it was a building place, and this landscape will always be part of me – and because it is of me, of you also.  Though I have tried to shake off California and leave it behind me, though I have painted Portland on my skin and woven it into my hair and my soul and made it ours, my childhood still lives in the smell of eucalyptus and the sweat of long summers and the swish pound constant always of the birthing breaking sea.

I hate and adore this place.  I need it.  I am California, or perhaps we are each other.

Dear Beautiful Girl - California

You, beautiful girl, you need the chance to make your own footprints on the places your mother skipped and ran and grew.  The deep welling in my stomach that accompanies our return to California shouldn’t starve you of the wonder of found seashells and the joy of my girlhood here and my grandfather’s lessons still echoing in the branches, fading but waiting if I show you where to listen.  I want to tell you only the best stories, but you deserve the whole truth, and the mistakes and the running and the regret and the sweet healing passage of time will be yours to discover as you grow here, as I grew here, in summers and Christmases and long books and sand in your shoes.

Home, my love, isn’t a place.  Home is a collaboration, an intimate collection of beating hearts and adventures and skin and brick and meals eaten and hands held.  Home will flex and change and narrow and grow – bits of it will chip away, arms that held you will become holy memories that you carry, walls that contained you will burn or fall or belong to someone else.  Words will become echoes, seedlings will root and grow and tower and fall, and home will still be a thing we are building, you and your loved ones and your Maker, and also my grandmother’s hands which are holding your hands are holding my mother’s hands are holding my own.

Home is a thing that travels, tiny beautiful girl, that you carry with you and tend and protect and nurture, a thing that in turn will tend and nurture and protect and carry you.  The ghosts and the laughter and the loss and the wonder – they are the building blocks.  The soil and water.  The bread and wine.

We will tuck the smallest pieces of home into seashells, whispering them deep in with the ocean sound and the salt smell and I will put one in your pocket, just in case.  I will tell you my stories, that you might know where you came from.  I will tell you my secrets, and remind you always whose we are.

Girl of Cardigan

  • Rosalind June 22, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. I wish myself a writer but next to your poetry I feel small. You have put into few words what I feel when I look at my daughter. Thank you xxxx

    • karyn June 22, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      Oh Rosalind, thank you for your sweet words! I’m a firm believer that if you write, you’re a writer – your voice is so valuable, mama! Use it! Love.

  • Christiana June 22, 2014 at 3:29 pm


    • karyn June 22, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      <3 back.

  • Lindsey June 22, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful entry. We are moving back to Washington state from North Carolina with my 1 year old. This really speaks to my soul as I prepare to show my daughter “where her roots ar.” This is simply beautiful.

    • karyn June 22, 2014 at 10:12 pm

      Thanks Lindsey! I’m wishing you a safe, smooth, and joyful move – and welcome back to my neck of the woods! 😉

  • Darcy June 22, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    It made me tear up a bit. Going home hurts and heals at the same time…and knowing your home is my home (or at least a close neighborhood version of it) makes this post all the more bittersweet. I crave California like I crave security in this unfamiliar place. I still smell the eucalyptus too.

    • karyn June 22, 2014 at 10:14 pm

      I always feel like I’m going to round a corner and run into some alternate universe version of myself here. I realize I’m maybe a crazy person, but it’s the eeriest feeling. Glad I’m not alone in the bittersweet – thank you lovely.

      • Janice Peters June 23, 2014 at 4:18 pm

        That is how I feel when I go back to LA…like the person I used to be is still there somewhere, living a parallel life. Maybe that’s because we leave some dreams behind when me leave a former home. We find others, often better others…but the bittersweet is for the dreams we left behind.

        • karyn June 24, 2014 at 10:16 pm

          Yes, yes, exactly this. Love you.

  • Hannah June 23, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Sheesh, lady love. Too much lovely.

    • karyn June 24, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      It’s only because I miss you so much already. Boo.

  • Janice Christman June 23, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Oh, Karyn, your words move me! I grew up in Sumatra, Indonesia and your writing of the feelings you are trying to convey to Fable are what I try to let people feel about where and how I grew up! My Mom grew up in Burma, so she knew how to make us “feel” about thw “where” of our home, but, to covey the “feel” of your home is something you have to learn on your own! Fable will learn her own joys and fears, but, you will always be there to guide her! Love you!

    • karyn June 24, 2014 at 10:17 pm

      Janice, I can’t wait until we get to hang out and I get to listen to all of your stories for a change. That is all. Love back. 😉

  • Jeremiah Meeks June 24, 2014 at 9:22 am

    This is great. As a jaded southern married to the same, I forget that is part of who I am and that Junior needs to see where I come from as much as I needed to catch 200 steel head in Minnesota with my dad and grandma and play catch with fallen oranges in Grandpa’s trailer park to understand them. Thanks for the reminder!

    • karyn June 24, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      Yes, exactly. I remember how much I craved my parents’ history… have to own mine enough to give it to her. Thanks, Jeremiah. Hugs to your tiny guy.

  • Bethany June 30, 2014 at 8:51 am

    This is such beautiful prose. We all have those places that we were broken, and reminds us of that brokenness don’t we? This post was rich, creamy lotion that soothed my cracked and weary soul. Thank you!