Nearly 8 Months

I’ve been in Colorado now for nearly eight months. That’s a long time–nearly a full year–and I wonder if I have anything to show for all that time.

It’s a beautiful state, although I haven’t done much exploring yet. And the people are nice and I have a few friends, but no one that I’m close to. I’m frequently alone. And that’s been fine. I’ve never minded solitude. Most days, I just go to work and then I go home. And when I’m home, I work on my apartment (although, I’ll admit, I’m frequently distracted by Netflix). But to have this tiny space that’s all mine? It matters a lot to me for some reason. I want it, need it, to be …

And so I’ve taken my time, unpacking boxes and arranging shelves. I’ve painted walls, even though I’m only renting. I’ve scoured Pinterest and Craigslist and Ikea and Home Goods and Target and thrift stores, pinning my inspiration, imagining my perfect place, and purchasing only what speaks to me.

So much of my nesting, though, has surprisingly been about the weeding–the getting rid of the unessential, the eliminating of things that don’t speak Krista. It’s interesting to have looked at the sum of my physical possessions and numbered the things that were just place holders–things I thought I wanted, things I thought I should have, but really never loved. But once I was rid of those things, I was left with space … for more of me.

And when I sit down at the end of the day, my slippered feet propped up on a tufted chartreuse stool, and look around, I find myself surrounded by my place inside this world. And it’s a soft place with colors and words and art and history and the faces of the people I love most.

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Missing Florida

On New Year’s Day, I moved to Colorado after spending a year and a half in Florida. It was a good choice, coming here. Although, I don’t know how long I’ll stay. It could be a year or two or three. Or it could be for forever. But it’s right, for now. And there is comfort in that. (Who’d’ve ever thought I’d be the girl with no plan, though.)

But despite it being the right thing for now, I’ve been missing Florida a lot lately. I miss my grandmother. I miss the land. I miss my kids and my friends at church. I miss the feeling of purpose I had there. My contributions were meaningful and my life was rich.

This weekend, I emptied my camera for the first time since I moved and found a million pictures of my last week of sunrises. And then I got all homesick for the river.

It really was a heavenly place to live. I’m a lucky girl to have so many homes–so many beautiful homes. This Earth, man. It’s a wonder.

Here are just a few of the millions of pictures I took before heading back to the mountains. Oh, and you really should watch this video I made a couple years ago. It’s been on repeat for me this week. Continue reading →

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How I Came To Be Living In Florida

Frit’s and my home, on the night I pulled out of the driveway and shut the garage for the last time.

Last May, when I knew Frit was about to get engaged, I started looking for a new place to live. Once she got married, she’d be moving to Iowa and I didn’t want to live in our house without her. There was also no way I’d be able to cover the mortgage on my own and I had zero desire, at 34, to start again with new roommates. Salt Lake City seemed like the logical place to look. It was closer to work. And it would provide a (sort of) “fresh start” in a (sort of) new city. I looked at dozens of apartments, but I couldn’t find anything that felt right.

Some might say that doesn’t matter–the “feeling right” bit. Just go where you want to go. Be where you want to be. Make a choice and God’ll use you wherever you land. But I firmly (stubbornly) hold to my expectation that Heavenly Father owes me at least that–a place where I can tangibly feel confident that it’s exactly the right place, at the right time, for me. If I’m to live this unexpected life on my own, then yes, He owes me at least that. (“And hardwood floors, a garden plot, and a walk-in closet, would be nice too,” I told Him one night, only half joking.)

But like I said, nothing felt right. Pretty soon Frit had the ring, and I felt the pressure. I began to feel very frustrated and very anxious. I kept searching, but to no avail other than stress. Plus, I was just … heartbroken. I would miss her so desperately. And I didn’t want to leave our house. Our happy, peaceful, welcoming, spirit-filled-garden-in-the-back-neighbors-we-adore house filled with seven years of memories. I just wanted everything to stay how it was. Continue reading →

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At Home

I lifted the window shade and looked down. From the bright blue sky I could see the straight street blocks of the city below. We circled for landing and then I could see the familiar swirls of salt, algae and mud in the great lake that sits beside that very city. And off in the distance I could see the big, white “B” painted on the mountain beside my home.

Home?

Wasn’t I just there?

Yes. It’s true. Not more than 48 hours ago, I was sitting on a lawn chair while sea water slapped the dock below me, the wet air settling on my skin as subtly as the flood from a fire hose. At home.

But here I was, getting off the plane and I couldn’t find my phone fast enough. “I’M HERE!!”

She came rolling up to the curb and I couldn’t squeeze her tight enough. “Welcome home!”

We stopped for lunch and she asked, “Do you want to go in to eat or just go through the drive through?”

“Drive through please.”

I couldn’t get home fast enough.

It seemed like I’d never left, and yet I’d been gone nearly two months.

There we sat, side by side, on the blue denim couch, with our feet propped up, the blinds wide open, and the light pouring in. Sandwiches on the plates in front of us, fruit tarts in hand.

Everything smelled the same, tasted the same, felt the same.

Here at home.

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Daufuskie Day 2011

Pat Conroy described it in his book The Water is Wide. It, he wrote, “is an island off the South Carolina mainland not far from Savannah, Georgia. The island is fringed with the green, undulating marshes of the southern coast; shrimp boats ply the waters around her and fishermen cast their lines along her bountiful shores. Deer cut through her forests in small silent herds. The great southern oaks stand broodingly on her banks. The island and the waters around her team with life. There is something eternal and indestructible about the tide-eroded shores and the dark, threatening silences of the swamps in the heart of the island. [It] is beautiful because man has not yet had time to destroy this beauty.”

Daufuskie is her name. Some say it comes from the Yemassee Indians and means “land with a point.” Others say it’s Gullah for “the first key” north of Savannah. Either way, it is, in many ways, an island lost in time. There is no bridge, still, after all these years, and I doubt there ever will be. The only way to get there is by boat. The preferred mode of transportation around the island is a golf cart and most of the families living there are the descendants of African-American slaves. The Gullah language still drips from the dialect, much like the Spanish Moss that hangs from the trees.

As a child my family carried boat loads of tourists over to Daufuskie Island to ride around in “jungle buses” stopping at the old one-room school house, the 100-year-old Baptist church, the Bloody Point beach, and other sites of historical interest. The ladies who lived there would prepare a delicious South-island lunch and Miss Bertha would save me extra cornbread–which I ate, wrapped up in the folds of her lap. The highlight though, was always the deviled crabs–a divine delicacy passed on through generations of women. I still have yet to find its equal.

This weekend I accompanied my dad to Daufuskie for the first time in years. It was the annual Daufuskie Day festival–a day to celebrate the heritage, traditions, and lifestyle of the island.

Local families were set up with their tents and tables selling their wares, fresh produce and sea island cuisine–lowcountry boil (whole crabs, shrimp, corn, potatoes, and sausage boiled up with seasonings), jerk chicken and ribs, fresh peach and blueberry pies, and deviled crab of course.

I stopped by to kiss Miss Ellamae, who I haven’t seen in some twenty-five years and she gave me an extra crab just for doing so. (Score!)

The Reverend played his saxophone for a while and then some of the girls taught everyone how to slide dance.

Despite the fact that I was the only white girl around, and despite the fact that they were dying laughing at me, I finally joined in to learn. I just could keep still any longer! (Cuz you know I’m a dancer in my heart.)

It was just my kind of event. Delicious local food. Music. Local art. And atmosphere. But the people–that’s what made it. I’ve always loved the people of Daufuskie.

At the end of the day, I bought a chunk of watermelon for a buck and sat down underneath a palmetto tree. I leaned against the trunk and started in on the sweetest melon I think I’ve ever tasted. I couldn’t help but smile as the juice dribbled down my chin, down my arms, and down my shirt as I spat the seeds into the dirt beside me.

This, is life, I thought to myself.

I looked out over the marsh through a frame of Spanish moss, beach music playing in the background and closed my eyes as the scent of boiling shrimp and bar-b-que lingered on the steamy breeze. Sweat pooled on my upper lip and dripped from my hair. Yes–this, is southern island life.

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I’m Coming

It took weeks to finally decide. And countless drafts of a never-ending pros and cons list. But add a little prayer and a half-baked fast and you’ll find you have a decision made.

And right is the decision I’ve made.

In one week, I’ll be leaving Utah. I have decided to move back to South Carolina.

For the summer.

My dad offered me a job and I accepted. It’s the job I did in high school and I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that, at first, I felt like a complete loser. What do I do, you ask? Oh, I’m 32, single, “jobless,” and moving home. (ohmygosh I hate typing all that.) I also wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that the thought of moving back into my parents house may have freaked me out just a little. I mean, I left for college 14 years ago and haven’t lived there for any longer than a week (at the most) of vacation since 2000. i.e. The entirety of my adult life has been somewhat defined by a skyhigh level independence and a large degree of solitude. i.e. How does one “go home” (for an extended period of time) but not move backwards in one’s life?

But.

On the other hand.

It feels right to go. And so I go.

How grateful I am for parents who (despite dad’s best Bill Cosby threats that once we left we were never coming back) would allow me to come home (he’s such a softie). And how grateful I am that there’s a home to go home to.

And really–when else in my life could I just up and take three months to go live at the beach doing a job a 16-year-old could do? I’ve wished since college that I could shirk some of the responsibility of grown-up life and just be free. Now’s my chance. I’ve also always regretted not taking more advantage of the beautiful place I grew up in when I was in it. Now I can.

And ultimately, I can’t deny the healing balm the ocean is to me. My soul is not unlike the dry, cracked desert I live in right now. It needs water. Lots and lots of water.

One summer on an island it is then.

And so.

I plan to …

Not plan.

Work on the docks all day, everyday.

Ride my bike everywhere.

Eat plates and plates of seafood.

Take in as many sunrises and sunsets as possible.

Learn to run.

Explore.

Write.

Heal.

Oh hello summer. I’m coming.

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Oh, The Places You’ll Go. Oh, The Places I’ve Been.

When I was at home over the Christmas holiday, I began digging through boxes and drawers and browsing the shelves of my old room. Not much has changed since I lived there twelve years ago, which is one of the things I love about my mom. Our rooms are still our rooms and remain “as they were” when we three girls lived in them, although she has commandeered part of my room to use for furniture storage.

My swimming trophies and Care Bears still line the top shelf, my toe shoes on the shelf just below. My desk drawers are filled with the notes and letters of my adolescence, yellowed newspaper clippings and office supplies (I had an addiction even then). My jewelry box is still stuffed with handmade earrings, covered in gems and jewels, too big and neon for anyone’s good–a collection even Cyndi Lauper would envy. On the wall is the plaque I received for the highest academic average in AP History my senior year. And next to that is the plaque for the 1997 Citizenship Award from Hilton Head Preparatory. Behind my dresser is my art portfolio with every painting, pencil sketch, and pastel drawing since my first art class at age 8. Just outside my door are my awards for completing all four years of early-morning Seminary with 100% attendance. And next to those, framed in gold, is my acceptance letter to BYU.  To the right of my bed is the nightstand that held my bubble-gum pink stereo, the stereo on which I would record radio shows onto cassette tapes so I could play and replay my favorite songs.

In fact I remember one morning. It was about 5:30 a.m. and I was getting ready for Seminary. I had the radio dialed in to the country station because although I’d not liked country music until then, Carlton Elliott (who I had a big fat crush on) liked country music and I needed something to talk to him about, so I forced myself to listen to it until I did (ay ya yai, the things we do when we’re 15 and like a boy!). So anyways, it was about 5:30 a.m. and the song “Please Don’t Take the Girl” by Tim McGraw came on for the first time and my tender 15-year-old heart couldn’t take it. I sat at the edge of my bed, my dim lamp barely making a dent in the dark of morning, crying my little eyes out over that three-and-a-half minute love story, willing God (right along with Tim) to not “take the girl.”

To the left of my bed sit my “missionary shoes,” duct taped and superglued, with holes in the soles and only half a heel left on each shoe. And sitting beside the  shoes, stacked in chronological order, are my yearbooks.

I was never “popular” by any means. At least not after 6th grade when Adam Schwartz and I broke up. We’d been “the” couple ever since 4th grade, and with that came some measure of popularity. Actually, come to think of it, it was Brian Hollingsworth who called “on behalf of Adam” to ask if I wanted to “go out” with him. Mind you we never talked to each other, let alone “went out” anywhere, at least not that first year. But like I said, I wasn’t “popular” in the traditional I’m-ultra-cool-and-everyone-wants-to-be-like-me way. But I was friendly and I knew everyone. And everyone knew me. (Is that a correct assessment Meghan? I think you’re the only person from grade/high school that reads my blog.)

So anyways, over Christmas I spent the better part of an afternoon flipping the pages of each book. Scanning the faces. Reliving memories I’d almost forgotten. Remembering friends, and boys I was certain I “loved.” Feeling the flood of emotion that inevitably comes when you swim through any sort of reminiscense. Thinking about who I was. And who I am. Where I’ve been. And where I’m going.

I could see my personality taking shape even in my round 10-year-old face. I could see my life path being laid with every accomplishment and honor of high school. And I could see the truth in the scripture, wherein God says, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time.”

I need to get back to that place. That place where I inquired more. Where I counseled more with the heavens. Because if I’m going to get where I’m going, I need that instruction. I need that guidance. I need the assurance that I’m in the right place at the right time today, so that tomorrow I can say the same.

***

This photo is for you Meghan. I do love it so. A seriously fantastic signature. Definitely the most creative one from 6th grade. :)

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Parting Shot: 8/12/09

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I figured after this morning’s post, this would be a perfect Parting Shot for today.
These are my feet. My big feet. And my long toes. Spread wide in a yoga stance on the coast of a vast ocean. Despite the shifting sand and tidal pull beneath me, I am balanced and content in the sanctuary of the shore.

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The Family Biz

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If you’ve been following happenings here at the Haystack for any amount of time, you know that I come from the ocean, adore the ocean, wish I was at the ocean, and will live by the ocean again someday. You see, I grew up on an island off the coast of South Carolina. But more than that, I was raised on the docks of this island off the coast of South Carolina.

My formative years (and then some) were spent working in the family business, also know as: Adventure Cruises (Hilton Head Island’s premier nature cruise and dolphin watch company). Even while I was swimming in my mother’s belly, she was on the deck of a boat–working. Once born she would strap me on her back and off on a cruise I would go, babbling at tourists, growing my sea legs. There was even a cradle in the engine room just for me where I would fall asleep to the gentle rocking of waves and the hum of machinery.

Once old enough, I became part of my dad’s crew, tying and untying the lines, running the snack bar, welcoming our passengers. During my teenage years, when I became opposed to the idea of sweaty work, I ran the office, answering phones, taking reservations and selling tickets, but (much to my chagrin) was still the pinch hitter if a deck hand didn’t show for work. Like most teenagers, I didn’t know what I had, even though it was right in front of me.

It wasn’t until college that I understood how dreamy my life was. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I began to cherish those hours in the wheelhouse with my dad. It wasn’t until recently that I began to fiercely crave the tidal flow of our marshy waterways with all her colors and critters and sounds and stirrings. And the craving only grows more intense with every passing year.

So when I was home last month for “Wedding Week“, a cruise on our boat was a must. And what a better way to meet our new brother-in-law’s family than on a sunset cruise?

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(My dad, the Captain, in the wheelhouse)

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(Karly & JJ enjoying the view from the top deck)

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(Dolphin, Starboard bow)

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(Julie, Me, and Baby Kayc Face)

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(Picnic dinner … Southern style)

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(Sunset through the Palmetto trees)

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(Harbour in Broad Creek)

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(JJ’s grandma and my mom)

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(Final moments of a fabulous sunset)

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(Harbour lights after cruise)

[sigh]

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The Best Part of Wedding Week

Hands down, the best part of the Maurer-Barksdale Wedding Week Celebration was the boat-load of sister time I was able to enjoy. I am the oldest of three girls. There are no boys, and while, when I was younger, I thought it would be so cool to have an older brother, I now wouldn’t trade coming from a family of all girls for anything.I am totally enamored with my sisters.
And a week with my girls was just what the doctor ordered.

From singing at the top of our lungs and dancing in the living room…

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(you should immediately download the Glee cast version of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”. Immediately.)

… to dressing up to pick people up at the airport …

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P.S. we have THE most incredible dress up closet in the entire world at our house.

… to mani’s and pedi’s at our favorite local salon …

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… to belting it out on stage at Kaycie’s concert

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(she’s a singing mermaid at a show for the tourists who visit our island)

… to beach trips and bike rides …

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… to doting and lovin’ on a gorgeous-in-every-way bride …

 

… my week with Karly Barley and Kayc Face was so perfect, I found myself missin’ them somethin’ fierce when Monday arrived, “Don’t Stop Believin’” popped up on the iPod, and I was in Utah … and they were not.

 

Yes. Sister time was definitely the best part of the whole week. I miss you girls.

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Sunrise on Hilton Head

I am at a loss for words.The beauty of this place, my home, leaves me spellbound, intoxicated with happiness.
And I must share this morning’s sunrise.
It’s too lovely to keep to myself.

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2 Bridesmaid Dresses? Check. Home? Check check.

Bridesmaid Dresses
40 hours

3 sleepless nights

2 pin-pricked fingers (luckily no blood on fabric)

750 yards of thread

15 seconds of crying

1 minute of thinking I might not be able to do it

3 heaven-sent pleas for help

1 conversation with my (dead) great-great-grandfather who was a tailor

2 finished dresses

Infinite amounts of pride and happiness

At 10:30 p.m. Saturday night I sewed the final stitch in my dress. At 10:31 I jumped in the shower. At 10:45 I was fully clothed and racing around my room throwing all my clothes (thanks Frit for doing my laundry) into a suitcase. At 11:30 I was on my way to the airport to catch my red-eye to Atlanta. Speaking of, I can say that a red-eye flight, especially one that is completely full, is the most uncomfortable, make-me-want-to-kill-myself way to spend 4 hours.

At 8:30 a.m. (EST) I arrived in Savannah. At 9:30 I arrived at Church, wheeled my suitcase to the bathroom (got a lot of weird looks) and changed out of my pajamas, into a dress, pulled my hair in a pony and threw on some make-up. At 9:50 I walked into the chapel and up to the stand, kissed my sisters (who were asked to speak in the meeting), hugged my dad (who was conducting the congregational hymns) and sat next to my mother. None of them knew I would make it in time for Church, so it was quite the reunion.

At 1 p.m. Church was over. I went home, ate a banana, put on my swimsuit and went to the beach where I promptly fell asleep surrounded by sand dunes, seagulls, and my lazy Atlantic waves.

I am happy.

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