Prompt #28:

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. If we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

When did you feel most alive recently? Where were you? What did you smell? What sights and sounds did you experience? Capture that moment on paper and recall that feeling. Then, when it’s time to create something, read your own words to reclaim a sense of being to motivate you to complete a task at hand.

(Author: Sam Davidson)

Response:

Opening the car windows as we roll across the bridge connecting Newport Beach and Balboa Island, we suddenly inhale the fresh ocean air, feel its softness on our hair, the salt just slightly tingling the nose and tongue. We hear the call of boats, the swish of the ferry, the pleasant chatter of pedestrians, the thwunk thwunk of the flag on the flagpole in the wind, the raspy voice of the seagulls.

Although I have been to Newport Beach many times to see Grandpa Yoder, I have not been to Balboa Island for three years—in all the time that has passed since my Grandpa Don died. Bill and I enjoyed many summer days in Grandpa Don’s apartment, overlooking the bay: I took walks while pregnant with Katie there, and I remember ordering her rug on the phone from one of the recliners as I planned her nursery. Even after Katie was born, we took her once, and a month later we said goodbye to Grandpa Don. I have not been since then, at first because it was too painful, and eventually because my dad and his siblings let the apartment to another renter. Now another space in the Matics-Lambert-Horne building has opened up, and the MLH family has been turning that into the new island set-up.

I felt alive today, connecting with my family history, and connecting that history to the present of my children. I felt alive soaring as high as the birds while on the Ferris wheel on the pier with Katie. I felt invigorated breathing the salt air, savoring the golden glint of the sun on the bay, watching the sailboats and kayaks go by. It was beautiful to be there again. I haven’t realized how much I had missed it.

Looking out from the rooftop of the Matics-Lambert-Horne building, 500 S. Bayfront, I looked over in the direction of Grandpa Yoder’s house in Newport Beach. Not very far away, as the crow flies. I thought about both of my grandfathers, and how this space represents both of them, and how they are no longer here. I felt something beyond sadness, but not pain or grief. It was almost surreal, but I felt like part of them were both alive with me in that moment; there was a true connection to my family history in that moment.

Memorable moments today included taking the kiddos on the ferry across the bay. My dad used to captain the ferry several decades ago, and I got to tell Katie and Eric all about that. Both children were enchanted with the ferry, and Eric in particular was excited, earnest in his studying of it, and captivated by the waves and the seagulls and everything he saw. I felt like the Island must be in his blood a little. Of course his red hair makes me think of Grandpa Don often, who was called Big Red in high school for his bright red hair.

Katie and I went on the Ferris wheel and the merry-go-round on the pier. She loved both, especially the Ferris wheel. The view is spectacular, and I felt like we were flying. I thought about how much happiness we have in our lives right now, how much to enjoy in the moment and also to look forward to (my mom booked our family Hawaii trip yesterday), and how we have only to claim these magical experiences that are just waiting out there for us. Katie enjoyed a corn dog (pier food is a must), and the children and I shared a swirled ice cream.

In the later afternoon before dinner, we took a walk down the bayfront, enjoying the houses and their gardens and the fading light on the water. I remember SO vividly taking that same walk while pregnant with Katie; it reminds me so much of her. I also remember a bike ride that my dad and I took down that path once.

The kiddos and I also made sure to sit right on Grandpa Don’s spot on the sea wall outside of the Island Grill and the Island Market—the spot he used to sit in every day to eat his lunch. Although my family still owns that whole building, MLH no longer owns the business of the market and the business of the grill. I still feel connected to each, though. I remember being a little girl in that market, helping Grandpa Don. My dad and Uncle George took over much of the business in the 1980s. I helped my dad get the oranges for the fresh orange juice, and I remember well their butcher counter (which no longer exists). My dad made decisions of true quality in that store, and it is not the same going in there now. I remember going to work with him in the Island Grill, too, when I was 9 and 10 years old. I worked a full day with him in there—once my Great-Grandparent Matics’ cafe—and loved it. I have two of my great-grandparents’ cafe menus framed and hung in my kitchen.

We have, of course, so many pictures from our day! It was magical!

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