Due to a series of unfortunate events. I couldn't make it home this year for Christmas. That makes two in a row. And Mom let it be known...she's counting!
A few of my friends here in the L.A. area offered to bring me along to their respective gatherings. Each of which sounded intriguing in their own special way. However, I settled on spending the holiday with one of my bestest friends...Summer, who resides out in Ojai. The decision proved to be just what the doctor ordered.
I trained out to Ventura where she picked me up and escorted me to this quaint little area. It was night time when I arrived, but she let it be known that the surroundings were absolutely gorgeous. "Wait til you see this place in the morning," was a recurring theme.
As for Christmas Eve, it was so familiar that it felt like I was back in New York with my very own family. Mom wrapping last minute gifts. Egg Nog with your choice of liquor to choose from. Pumpkin bread was an added bonus. One I wouldn't have minded scooping up the recipe for and making a part of the Gary family tradition. But best of all was the conversations unfolding between all those present. More than anything our chit chats set the tone and confirmed the already obvious, that I was amidst good people.
And the good people only multiplied the next day. Not long after I rose, did the family start pouring in. Uncle's, Aunt's, cousins, Grandma! It was a scene I'd witnessed many a times before yet had it's own unique flavor to it on account of those in attendance.
As promised, the natural surroundings attested to beauty beyond words. Summer is an avid gardener. One who is constantly grabbing a flower, or random leaf and saying, "Smell this." Each time leaving me shaking my head in disbelief... 'How did you know that?" Strolling around the premises shed light on just where all of that natural appreciation and gardening ability came from. Her mom had the place decked out. Whether it be the actual plant life (cactus/cacti) or even the unprecedented placement of bowling balls throughout the garden, the whole place had a very zen feel to it.
And that was just the immediate surroundings. As my gaze zoomed outward, I took in the sights of nice sized mountain across the way, which inherently gave birth to the valley which lied between us. More than anything, it was the peace here that struck a chord.
I searched my memory in attempt to recall the last time I'd felt/experienced peace and quiet on this level and I was hard pressed to do so. It was so quiet I could hear the dog barking from across the valley. This alone shed layers of mental chatter and concrete jungle-isms that I was previously unaware of. And as my mind attempted to clear itself of the typical rants that had plagued it, I surrendered and simply basked in the presence of it all. Hurrying not, to speak, move or distract myself.
Eventually more humans arrived, and so began the dance that is Christmas. The gift exchange was not as pronounced as it is in our household, but it was really awesome to not only have a card to open from my "family" in Tokyo. But even have a gift complements of Summer's mom.
By early afternoon there were upwards of 30 people in the house, each weaving our way in and out of conversations, food and Spirits (of each kind.) It was a beautiful collection of souls. One in which seemed void of judgment or any of the family dramas that plague many a gatherings.
Prior to the guests arrival, there were at least 10 guitars in random locations throughout the house. A sight that seemed a bit excessive at 1st, yet sparked a degree of curiosity as I wondered, what in the world could someone do with ALL these guitars? The answer soon presented itself as the jam session of a lifetime commenced right before my eyes.
There were some truly talented musicians amongst us. Each of which graced us with a few tunes from within their arsenal. What amazed me was not only their musicianship, but also how well they fed off of each other. Although I 'dibble dabble' in the realm, I was a bit intimidated by the where-with-all they exemplified.
The most recent addition and pleasant surprise for all involved was the arrival of a couple of English girls who have their own band Athena. This was their 1st time being in the States for the holidays, and they lucked up and found this haven for musicians in which they fit right in. Their songs were moving and I had to make an extra effort to not appear too interested :) Cool may be the death of me!
As it turned out, they just happened to be staying in Hollywood, not far from my hotel. As fate would have it, I ended up riding back with them which gave us the perfect opportunity to reflect on the magic of the night. The people, the food, the feelings, it was all indicative of a great holiday experience. One that could never be duplicated.
So...I apologize Mom for not making it home. But please believe your boy was in good hands when it was all said and done.
Divinity continues to align with perfect timing and placement. Can't wait to see what comes next.