The house on Cooper Point Road.


The last time I saw the house on Cooper Point Road, I didn’t know it was going to be the last time. I didn’t know that the night before would be the last time I’d sleep in that windowless basement bedroom with the lavender walls upon which the Titanic movie poster hung; the room with the cherry wood armoire topped by the commemorative Space Needle–shaped bottle from the 1964 World’s Fair and the two tall bookcases crammed with photo albums and novels that were required reading from my high school English classes.

I didn’t know it would be the last time that I’d stand on that expansive wooden deck, staring out at Budd Inlet, watching the boats and the barges pass by on their way to the Port of Olympia. I didn’t know it would be the last time I’d set eyes on that eyesore of a red oriental rug in the downstairs office, or the photograph of the sunset over Mt. Rainier that I took in the 11th grade that my mom framed and hung proudly near her bed, or the musty, cavernous garage containing the oil painting with a warped canvas, depicting me, my parents and our Cairn Terrier Duncan on a snowy Alaska day – painted by mom’s German friend Ernst, who shipped his canvasses wrapped in butcher paper and addressed in flowery letters to ‘Lady Annieleine,’ causing our Anchorage neighbors to wonder if my pretty, blue-eyed, blonde-haired mother with the delicate cheekbones and the gentle way descended from royal bloodlines.

I didn’t know that it would be the last time, though the thought had crossed my mind. In truth, thought wasn’t something I had much time for, not since arriving in Olympia a week earlier, after receiving the call from my sister Deirdre on Valentine’s Day morning that our Dad had passed away. I booked a flight to Sea-Tac and spent nearly four hours on an airport shuttle trying to get to the house on Cooper Point Road. With a bus full of passengers, multiple stops, and Friday afternoon gridlock, the journey out to that long, tree-lined peninsula, past the sign that warned ‘end of county road,’ and down the hill toward the house where my parents used to live might as well have been a journey to the end of the world.

When I finally arrived, there was a bottle of tequila and conversations about when the memorial in Medford, Oregon would be taking place. A decision that, apparently, hinged upon me, probably because my half siblings were exhausted and didn’t have any decision-making abilities left. I settled on a week from Saturday, thinking it made the most practical sense.

The next day, Matt and Marion went back to Anchorage, and Deirdre and I were alone – dad’s oldest and youngest – to sort out life in the house on Cooper Point Road. Time passed in a blur and shifted into some nebulous thing we labeled ‘the vortex.’ We arose each morning with the sun and assembled ourselves around the dining room table, making endless to-do lists and checking things off as we went. There were the mundane tasks – cancelling newspaper subscriptions, sorting through old CDs, selecting floral arrangements for the funeral – and the more oppressive ones: editing obituaries, inventorying personal items, picking up dad’s ashes from the funeral home.

I spent one entire day in my mother’s room, amassing piles of clothing and shoes and handbags and jewelry, trying some things on, but opting to donate almost everything. I filled eight 40-gallon black plastic garbage bags -all impossibly heavy to carry, but that I managed to anyway, almost due to sheer force of will – and delivered them to the Goodwill.

Before we knew it, a week had passed. We said goodbye to the house on Cooper Point Road on a dreary Friday morning. The airport shuttle was late picking us up, though I’d confirmed with them twice and given specific directions as to how to find the house, hidden away as it was in the Olympia woods. My brain swirled with worry – partially that we’d miss our flight – but mostly about the logistics of transporting the heavy square box containing dad’s ashes through airport security without incident.

There was so much to be preoccupied about that morning, that we didn’t realize until the Capitol Aeroporter dropped us off curbside at Sea-Tac that my sister had left one of her suitcases – the smaller one, containing goodies and gifts for her husband and kids – outside in the driveway of the house on Cooper Point Road, left to soak in the pouring rain.

As we boarded the Horizon Air turboprop bound for Medford, I stared out at the runway, rain streaming against the windows, and I thought about the fact that this would very likely be the last time I saw the house on Cooper Point Road. And in a flash, I felt at once devastated and relieved. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to see it again. After all, both of my parents had died in that house, and it contained so many sad memories crammed into such a small space of time. And yet, I knew what never going back meant: no more holiday parties watching boats decked out in Christmas lights lazily cruising Budd Inlet, no more of my mom’s famous ginger snap cookies, no more watching baseball or football games with dad and yelling insults at the opposing team, no more summers soaking up the sun on the deck with majestic views of Mt. Rainier, no more launching bottle rockets into the bay on the 4th of July, no more visitors dropping by via boat and anchoring next door at the Beverly Beach dock. As my uncle Glenn said in a numb, flat tone when I called to tell him that my dad was gone: ‘It’s all over, isn’t it?’ Yes, it was. It was over. Olympia was no longer my home.

As quickly as those thoughts entered, they left, to make room for other thoughts. I was tired, overwrought, consumed by the present moment. As we taxied down the rain-soaked runway, I only briefly entertained the idea that this was indeed the end of something, before other thoughts – flying into bad weather on a small plane that seemed older than me, dad’s funeral mass the next morning, the heavy, square plastic box full of ashes secured above our heads in the overhead bin – intruded. I couldn’t possibly have anticipated what was to come next. I didn’t know anything with certainty, not any more. I didn’t know this would be the last time. But as the engines roared and we ascended into the cloudy Seattle sky, I thought that it might be.

Until next time, friends.



The Boeing 737 was late leaving Vancouver. Not very late – only about 15 minutes. De rigueur for many airlines, but not my beloved Alaska, who always seemed to shuttle me back and forth between L.A. and Seattle perfectly on schedule. After a glorious, eleven day vacation in the Pacific Northwest, including several days visiting family in British Columbia, I was headed back – somewhat reluctantly – to Los Angeles. I found my seat in Row 15, on the aisle, next to a pleasant, middle-aged couple that spoke with soft accents I couldn’t quite place. As I stowed my carry-on and got situated, a girl’s voice came on over the plane’s intercom. She sounded green; fumbling her words and nervously halting before announcing our destination or expected arrival time. She’s probably training, I thought, feeling bad for her.

And then came the words I seldom hear but always dread: ‘We are expecting turbulence.’ The young, inexperienced voice inspired little confidence as she informed us that the flight attendants would have to remain seated until somewhere south of Seattle, due to storms in the area. I sighed, opened up a book and tried to read, hoping I’d magically grow so immersed in it by the time we were in flight that I wouldn’t notice the bad weather. I glanced down at the ruby and diamond band on my right ring finger – my mother’s ring – and said a silent prayer.

I wasn’t always afraid to fly. As a little girl growing up in Alaska, I used to fly frequently: to Seattle to visit my grandparents, to Hawaii or Mexico on vacation with my mom and dad. Takeoff was my favorite part: the taxi down the runway and the roar of the jet engines as the plane accelerated into the sky. ‘Up, up, up and away,’ I’d say with delight, as the plane rose above the landscape and the town and roads and cars and buildings were reduced to ant-size. Even the fact that during the cold Alaska winters, planes were sometimes held on the runway in order to ‘de-ice’ the wings didn’t faze me – just par for the course being an Alaska girl. Now, I have no doubt that hearing that phrase would send terror shooting down my spine. Oh, how things change.

On this current Alaska flight from YVR to LAX, we easily soared to 10,000 feet – the approved elevation for electronic devices. False alarm, I thought, just the pilots being extra cautious. I began to relax. But somewhere on the way to 30,000 feet, the bumps began. Not too bad at first, but gradually worse. Eventually, the pilot’s voice – barely discernible over the engine noise – came over the loudspeaker: ‘Well, folks,’ he said, in a vaguely reassuring, grandfatherly tone, ‘we’ve got reports of thunderstorms from here to Portland, and the winds are moving from east to west, causing the rough air we’re experiencing. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to ask everyone to remain in their seats with seatbelts securely fastened for their safety.’

Dammit, I thought. Seeking comfort, I scanned my immediate surroundings for a friendly face. The couple next to me was sound asleep. The kind-faced, older gentleman across the aisle looked like a good prospect, but he was absorbed in his kindle and didn’t make eye contact. Envious of his calm demeanor, I reluctantly put in my ear buds and searched iTunes for the happiest, poppiest song in my library. As Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da by the Beatles played, I stared out the window into the cloudy grey abyss, the plane shimmying, my heart rate rising. What I wouldn’t give for a shot of whiskey – or three – right about now, but the flight attendants had to remain seated too:  no beverage service.

Calm down, I told myself, it’s just bad weather. It’ll be over soon. But the plane wouldn’t stop shaking, the visibility wouldn’t get clear, and even Paul McCartney was not helping matters. I looked down at the ring on my finger, twisted it, and asked my mom for help. ‘It’s going to be OK,’ a voice told me. ‘I won’t let anything happen to you.’ And I thought about my mother, imagined her as my angel watching over me, imagined her keeping me safe, and I twisted the ring and twisted it and twisted it. But no calm came. Just the plane, pushing through choppy air, and me, gripping my armrest for dear life and praying for it to stop.

‘Mom?’ I thought desperately. And then, with full force, a realization hit me, as powerful as the storm we were flying through, and suddenly, I was weeping, unable to stop the deluge spilling forth from my eyes. My mom wasn’t going to save me. Not today. Not ever. She never had.

My mother was my best friend, my world, the most important person in my life. I had no doubt of the fierceness of her love for me or her desire for my happiness above all else. But keeping me safe was another thing entirely. My sweet, beautiful mother had always been too fragile for this world, and from a very early age, I grew up protecting her, watching over her, and making sure she was OK. It’s what therapists call ‘parentalizing,’ which is essentially a parent/child role reversal.

From the time I was around 8 or 9, I remember filling that role. Whether I was consoling her after a bout with dad’s drinking, after harsh words from my grandmother that cut too deeply, or one of the many times that she was depressed and so very sad, I was always the one taking care of my mom.

This continued well after I left home and moved to Los Angeles. During our frequent phone conversations, I’d edit the details of my life so as not to upset her. No matter how hopeless I felt during my lowest moments as a broke, struggling twenty-something trying to make it as an actress in Hollywood, I always painted the truth with an optimistic brush. I couldn’t tell her how I really felt – desperate and alone – because I knew that she’d drive herself crazy worrying about me. The few times I tried the unedited truth, the pain it caused her always cost me more than the temporary relief provided by unloading my burdens on to the one person I wanted to confide them in. So I avoided the unedited truth at all costs, and instead I found a way to always make things OK.

And now here I was, 30,000 feet in the air somewhere over the Washington/Oregon border, exposed, vulnerable, openly weeping, gripping the armrest, praying for safety. But no one was coming to rescue me. Like so many times before, I was on my own. I’d just have to steel myself, and wait for the storm to pass.

And eventually, it did. The air smoothed out, the sun broke through the clouds. And everything was OK again. Just like it always was. But as I twisted that ruby ring, breathed a deep sigh of relief and allowed myself to sink back into my seat, I knew something fundamental: my parents were dead and gone, yes. But life circumstance had only made what was always true more apparent. As much as my parents loved me, as much as they’d supported me, I had always been my own safety, I had always been my own security, and when push came to shove, I had always relied on myself.

Ever since childhood, I had been seeking out a safe place to rest my head. But I’d only found more of what I’d already known: people who were broken – just like my mother – and needed me to take care of them. And on that Alaska Airlines flight from Vancouver to LAX, I knew that I had to change. I had to stop trying to fix the broken ones, and I had to find someplace safe outside of myself. Until I did that, I would always be gripping the armrest, hanging on for dear life. I would always be afraid to fly.

Until next time, friends.

Sad things.

photo 3

I write about sad things.  But I am not a sad person.  A lot of sad things have happened to me in a short span of my life, and for a long while – a twelve month or so period that I’ve labeled The Lost Year – I couldn’t write at all.  I tried and failed many, many times, but I couldn’t crystalize my emotions into sentences that made any sense, or had any meaning.

When I emerged from the darkest of the dark, there was no denying that I was a different person.  At once stronger, and yet more fragile.  I didn’t want anything that happened to me.  I didn’t want to lose three of the most important people in my life, nor did I want to be forced to confront painful truths about my family – and ultimately, myself – through their loss.  I would give anything for things to be the way they were, to live in blissful ignorance once again.  But life doesn’t work that way.

So here I am.  And somewhere in the eye of the storm, in the midst of the vortex, I found my voice again.  And I started to write.  Grateful to be able to once again put my thoughts into words, to be able to finally express myself, I have been writing a lot.  And I’ve been writing a lot of sad things.  But I write about sad things not because I’m a depressive, but because I’m an optimist.  Because through it all, I’m still hopeful.  I still believe that people are essentially good.  I still believe in love.  Even though I’ve been gut-kicked by life, even though my edges are sharper, I’m not bitter or cynical or jaded.  I write painful truths about my family not because I’m angry with them, but because you’re only as sick as your secrets and we kept far too many of them and I don’t want to be complicit in the secret-keeping any more.

So I’m going to continue to write sad things, because I want to get better.  I’m going to continue to explore the dark because it’s the only way to reclaim the light.  I’m going to continue to be honest because I’ve seen too much and lived through too much to be anything else.  And I’m going to continue to tell my story, even though I know it will be painful, even though I know it will cost me something, because there is someone out there who wishes they could do the same and can’t.  And if there’s even a chance that in my quest to heal my heart, in my journey to become a whole person again, that I can help someone else do the same, then it’s all worth it.

Stay tuned.

Until next time, friends.

Make Believe.

I prefer the you that I made up.

I prefer the you that was kind, with a soft sparkle in your eye, a gentle authority in your step.

I prefer the you that charmed me right from the start, that made me feel charming too.

I prefer the you that I laughed with, easily and often.

I prefer the you that made me feel at once safe and secure, held in your gaze.

I prefer the you that made time stand still.

I even prefer the you that broke my heart, because the you that broke it was someone worthy of the break.

The real you, I don’t know what to do with.

The real you is cold and disappointing, sad and shallow.

The real you is careless with my heart, careless with the hearts of others.

When I dream, we’re effortless.  We just have to be, and it’s enough. We just have to be, and it’s everything.

But the real you couldn’t care less about my dreams.

Was the you that I made up ever really you?  Or were you just a figment of my overactive imagination?

If you exist solely in the world of make believe, then I’d rather exist there, too.

Dreaming you up all over again.

Because I prefer the you that I made up.

photo 1


photo 2

July 7, 2014 was a good day. The weather was warm with temperatures in the low 80s. Sunrays sparkled on a calm, tranquil, barely-rippling Puget Sound, and Mt. Rainier stood strong and stoic, a beacon against the bright blue sky. Summer had officially arrived in the Pacific Northwest, and I couldn’t imagine anywhere else I’d rather be on this perfect July day than out on Case Inlet in my Grandfather’s forty-year-old, freshly refurbished tin boat, just me, my uncle, my aunt and my mom.

The afternoon before, I had finally gathered up the courage to pry open the square, black plastic box that had been living in the manufactured home in Allyn, WA for the last twenty-two months. A box that contained a plastic bag sealed with a twist tie, and a tag that identified the bag’s powdery grey contents as the remains of my mother, Anne Popelka Kelly.

I’m not sure why I was so terrified to open that box, though I surmise it had something to do with the fact that once I finally did it, there would be no denying that all that remained of my brilliant, beautiful mother was a small container of ash and bone. There would be no denying that fact, nor would there be any denying another essential truth: that despite our brave, beating hearts, despite our grandest hopes and loftiest dreams, despite our fiercest passions and boldest aspirations, that we too, would ultimately be reduced to the very same thing.

I suppose that ever since I started losing members of my family, I’ve been running from the idea of my own expiration date. For all my talk of the fierce urgency of now, of the shortness of life, the truth is that I’ve been living ever-terrified of my own mortality, paralyzed in a sort of holding pattern that’s kept me from really letting go and embracing my life.

And every time I visited that manufactured home in Allyn, every time I visited her, that black box had been haunting me, mocking me, berating me for my inability to do the thing that needed to be done. Well, no more. I was finally going to do it. I was going to obey her wishes. And I was going to take a little bit of her with me, too.

I had purchased a sterling silver pendant with an amethyst at its base for the occasion. I unscrewed and removed the bale, and using the paper funnel I’d made, I carefully guided a small pinch of my mother’s ashes into the pendant, and then another pinch, conscious (OK, paranoid) not to spill. Once the ashes were safely inside, I applied glue to the bale, inserted it into the pendant, twisted, and secured it, using a tissue to gingerly wipe away excess glue.  All of my movements were laser beam-focused, with the precision of a brain surgeon.

Having completed that step, it was time. Time to do the big thing. The thing we’d been putting off for the last twenty-two months. My uncle, aunt and I were out on Case Inlet on that perfect July day because it was time. It was time to let her go.

And so we did. Cradling the black box in my arms, a silver ice cream scoop pilfered from my grandfather’s kitchen in hand, we boarded the old tin boat with the words ‘Popelka’ stamped on the inside.  With my uncle manning the outboard motor, we steered out toward the center of the bay, out past rafts and buoys. And when we found what we decided was a good spot, we began.

When we were done, we cruised around Treasure Island, (a tiny island populated by beach homes and way less exciting than the name implies) taking in the banks of statuesque evergreen trees. We waved at other boaters – especially the ones sporting Seahawks banners – the gentle July breeze blowing in our hair, the sun at our backs.

I’d shed more tears over my mother’s death and her absence over the subsequent two years than any other event in my life, but on that day, I didn’t cry. I laughed. As we launched powdery scoop after powdery scoop of my mom’s ashes into the sound, talking about her, taking in the beautiful day, I felt happy. I felt serene. I felt like I was finally doing something right. And after we brought the boat ashore, I jumped in the bay, losing and regaining both my flip flops in the process. ‘Cmon!’ I yelled at my aunt. ‘It’s too cold!’ she squealed in protest. ‘No it’s not,’ I hollered back, ‘it’s gorgeous!’

‘You sound like your mother!’ she laughed. Because no matter the time of year, no matter how cold the currents were, Puget Sound was never too cold for my mother. And as I dogpaddled through the water, inhaling saltwater, I felt lighter than I had in a long time. But it wasn’t just the saltwater making me buoyant, it was something more profound. It was sweet relief.

I briefly flashed back to a conversation I’d had earlier that day, over lunch with a family friend. We were discussing my life, the recent changes I’d been through, the open-ended nature of my future plans. ‘Aren’t you excited about your life?’ he gushed. ‘Anything can happen!’

Excited? That was another feeling I hadn’t felt in a long while. But floating in Case Inlet on that July day, it was one of many emotions I recognized flooding through my body. Having finally set my mother free, having sent her back into the sea she loved her whole life, I felt free too. As though the monster that had its claws into me these last two years had finally released its grip. Here, amidst all of this stunning natural beauty, I felt joyful. I felt grateful for my life. And yes, I even felt excited. Because anything can happen. And now – come what may – I feel ready for it.

Until next time, friends.

photo 4

Ice Water.

Hidden Lane Back View

You nearly died when I was nine. Though I might have been as young as eight, or as old as ten. I don’t remember. I do remember the fear.

We were living in Anchorage, in the house on Hidden Lane. My mom’s dream house. The three-story Alaskan chateau with the cathedral-high ceilings and the great big skylights, the wrap-around deck, the window bench I used to clamber upon on special nights well after midnight when the Northern Lights were out, the vegetable garden where we harvested rhubarb to make pie, and the jacuzzi in the basement ‘spa’ room populated by my mom’s favorite plants.

I dreamt about that house often after my mother’s death. It had been more than fifteen years since I’d lived there but in my dreams I remembered every detail, every inch of it. That house was as much my mom as her aquamarine eyes or her easy laugh. She worked with an architect to design the floor plan to painstaking detail and she was so very proud of it, as if she’d built it herself with her bare hands.

But as magical as the house on Hidden Lane was, bad things happened there. Burglars smashed in the front door in broad daylight and stole jewelry from my bedroom before an alarm scared them away. My parents fought frequently, often about my father’s drinking and the need for him to retire from his law practice. My mom, miserable during the cold, dark Alaska winters, suffered sad spells and would lock herself in her bedroom for hours at a time, refusing to answer or come out. More than once, I fell asleep curled up on the carpet outside her door, keeping vigil.

And then there was the night you almost died. Mom and I were upstairs, watching a movie. I think you and she had fought about something, but that memory, like many during that time, is fuzzy. What I do remember is the moment mom wondered aloud where you were and her eyes met mine and we both knew in an instant that something was wrong. We flew down the stairs – two or three at a time – to the basement. As we got closer, we could hear the hot tub whirring and I felt fear churning in my stomach.

And then we saw you: submerged under water, eyes closed, face purple. I thought for sure you were dead. It was the first time in my life I felt real terror – the kind that plunges into your chest like a swift, steel dagger, a sudden attack of ice water in the veins, freezing, expanding, breaking you apart from the inside out.

I remember mom pulling you out, screaming, crying, yelling for me to call 911. I don’t remember dialing the numbers, but I know that I must have done it because there was the operator’s voice on the other end, talking me through CPR. There was me, relaying instructions as mom went through chest compressions and mouth to mouth resuscitation. There was mom, turning you over on your side, and you, vomiting up water, coughing, choking, gasping for breath. And you didn’t die. Not that day.

The ambulance arrived, and you went to the hospital. And 24 hours later you and mom were off on vacation somewhere much warmer than Alaska – Hawaii or Mexico, I don’t remember – as though nothing had ever happened. If it wasn’t for the terror, the shock of ice water in my veins, I would think that I dreamt the whole thing up, that it was all just some hazy nightmare.

But I didn’t dream it. It was real. It happened. I wouldn’t feel that same terror, that same sudden, swift dagger again for another twenty years. Not until the Sunday morning when I received a panicked voicemail from my aunt telling me to call home, and you answered the phone and informed me in a flat, distant tone, ‘Mom’s dead.’

The night you nearly died was my first time, my first experience with real fear, my initiation into a world that wasn’t so safe, a world where everything could shift in an instant. It left an indelible mark. When the feeling visited me again many years later, I knew right away what it was, what it meant – that ice water, that steel dagger, that lightning strike of pure terror. After all, you never forget your first time. Do you?

Coastal Trail


Alaska Collage

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” -Maya Angelou

I want to go home. The problem is, I’m not sure where that is. It’s not Olympia any more, not since my parents died and we sold their house and I packed up my high school bedroom with its lavender walls and blue plastic glow in the dark stars on the ceiling. It’s not Anchorage, where I spent my first fourteen years making happy childhood memories amid snowball fights and sledding and ice skating on Chester Creek. And despite taking up residence for nearly fifteen years in Los Angeles, it’s not really L.A. either.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of home lately, what it is, what it means, how I define it. Is it where we’re from, where we grew up? Is it where our family is? Is it where we feel the warmest and safest? Or is it simply where we live now?

I haven’t felt at home in a while. The last two years of my life have been an intense period during which everything familiar has been ripped away, some of it by circumstance, some of it by my own design.

I have a new home now. It’s still a handful of miles from the ocean but that doesn’t keep it from feeling like the sea. It’s bright and airy with lots of natural light, beautifully landscaped grounds and a patio large enough to do yoga on, a patio that’s begging to be populated by plants. I’ve decorated it in a way that’s very Sarah – furniture made from light-colored wood and textiles in every shade of blue imaginable: teal, turquoise, navy, cerulean, aquamarine. It’s serene and lovely here, and a sense of calm pervades. I feel grounded in this place, and yet I can’t settle in. I can’t shake the feeling that my charming little cottage is a stopgap on the way to somewhere else, some destination yet unknown or undecided.

My whole life, I’ve always gravitated toward the water. Whether it was Cook Inlet in Anchorage or Puget Sound in Olympia or the Pacific Ocean, being near a body of water – something expansive – has always made me feel secure, like I’m not stuck. As though, through a waterway, I’m connected to the rest of the world and if I need to, I can stage a quick getaway. I’m not sure where this feeling comes from, only that I’ve always had it.

PNW Collage

Given that, I suppose it’s not surprising that upon moving to L.A., I fell in love with Santa Monica. I’d go to the ocean as often as I could, taking long walks through Palisades Park, daydreaming with my headphones on. One building in particular captured my imagination immediately, a gorgeous Spanish style manse on Ocean Avenue called El Tovar by the Sea. I’d imagine that when I’d finally made it big, I would buy the penthouse suite and sweeping views of the Pacific would be the backdrop to the glamorous and exciting life that I’d lead there.

It’s funny how your dreams evolve as you get older. While I still love visiting Santa Monica – breathing in the sea air, taking long walks in the park – I don’t want to live there anymore. Not even if someone handed me that penthouse suite on a silver platter. It’s not that I no longer daydream, but the hard won wisdom that’s come with age and the certainty that nothing is guaranteed has caused my dreams to shift and become less pie in the sky, more grounded in the real and the familiar. There’s something about El Tovar by the Sea, about Santa Monica, about Los Angeles in general that has become too sterile, too perfect, too high atop a pedestal, too held at a distance.

These days when I meditate on the idea of home, I think about where I fit in, where I’m allowed to be myself, where people ‘get’ me. I think about what’s most important: the best place to pursue career success, or the place with the greatest opportunities to grab happiness? And is it possible that those two things can intersect, that they can coexist in one space?

I used to think that there was only one path, only one place, for me. I used to be pretty dogmatic about it. But now I wonder if that’s true. Maybe in the words of Joseph Campbell, it’s time to let go of the life I’ve planned in order to have the one that’s waiting for me. Maybe I can have everything I want, but maybe the road to get there is different than I thought. Maybe it’s simpler, easier, more connected to my past. Maybe, like Dorothy, happiness has always been in my own backyard.

If home is where the heart is, then tomorrow I’m heading home. I’m spending ten days in the Pacific Northwest, dividing time between a waterfront parcel of land on Grapeview Loop Road in Allyn, WA – known affectionately as ‘the beach’ – and Vancouver, B.C. The former is as idyllic as its name implies. It’s the place I came of age, spending every summer swimming in Case Inlet, beachcombing and building bonfires under the stars. The latter is where my big sister lives with her family, and it’s the place that has consistently been my favorite destination for fun and laughter, a picturesque urban center with an international flavor that never ceases to inspire me. The bridge between these two places is Seattle, the city where I was born, the city where my Mom spent many happy days and that she loved so much, the city that I spent many happy days in with her, the city that always makes me feel so connected to her. On my way from point A to point B, I’ll swing through the Emerald City for a quick stay over, just to say hello. It would be impossible not to.

There’s this song I recently discovered – ‘Coming Home,’ by Storyman, an indie band from Ireland. One of the lyrics is stuck in my brain, perpetually on repeat: ‘home is where your heart meets mine.’ It’s simple, and it rings true. But which home? And whose heart?

I haven’t quite figured that out yet. And so, I’ll keep looking.

Until next time, friends.

LA Collage

Blog at