In Search of the Eternal Buzz

My older brother, who is way cooler than I’ll ever be, used to drive a ‘76 Monte Carlo hot rod. On the back bumper was a sticker that read, “In Search of the Eternal Buzz.” As his younger sister, I gathered that search involved fast cars, beer, and babes. Much older and a little wiser, I’ve discovered that the buzz is as unique as the buzzed. As Cole Porter points out, ‘I get no kick from champagne, cocaine, or a plane, but I get a kick out of you.’ To each his own, right?

I’ve had quite the range of experiences in search of my own eternal buzz. Some healthy, some not. Some legal, some not. Some safe, some not. Fast, slow, expensive, free, large groups, alone, far away, right at home. I’ve come to find my brother’s life motto is another way of describing the concept of flow. It’s not about the end result, but the journey. It’s about living in the moment so deeply that nothing else exists. Leaning in with open arms, heart, soul, and mind.

I’ve also learned there are a lot of buzzkills out there. Avoid them. They are speed bumps that need to be swerved around. Some people just don’t like that others are happier than them. Misery loves company, and all that. Buzzkills are narrow-minded enough to think their way is the right way, the only way. But I’m rubber and they’re glue…

Some people are lucky and find their buzz early in life. Some are old and gray before their search comes to a blissful end. Either way, it’s important to keep looking. And once you find that buzz, just keep buzzin’.

So in my search, I’ve found that I love adventure. I love writing. I love traveling. I love food. I love wine. I love learning and knowing things. I love good stories. I love when things are clean and organized. I love puzzles. I love being able to fix things. I love music. I love my dogs. I love nature walks. I love cool air. I love to be entertained. I love to play. I love Christmas. I love the fall. I love to laugh. I love when the ocean or a mountain comes into view. I love the moon and the stars. I love my home. I love my family and friends. I love God. I love my daughter. And I love me. Every day I make time for something or someone I love, and so every day I catch a buzz. The more I focus on what and who I love, the longer my buzz lasts. Voila! It’s as easy that.

So what gets you buzzed?

The True Meaning of Adulting

Adulting. Supposedly a term created for Gen Y to describe the mundane stuff adults do, like paying bills, working, buying groceries. I think of Rachel from Friends cutting up her dad’s credit cards and learning to do her own laundry. But real adulting is encountering harsh realities and rude awakenings in our everyday lives (you know, those surprising and unpleasant discoveries that yes, you were mistaken, your ideal world is not in fact real), and then dealing with them in (hopefully!) positive and productive ways. Biology aside, why do we become adults? Why can’t we stay children forever?

It’s been interesting, to say the least, to be a parent and witness my child growing up. There’s the obvious, expected, and somehow always surprising physical changes, like how she’s close to fitting into my shoes at age 9. And there’s the not-so-obvious, but still expected, yet somehow surprising emotional changes. The other day she was playing with a young boy, a close friend of ours, who has always been very sweet toward her. They were spraying water at each other, but blocking the water with umbrellas, so no one was actually getting wet. All very sweet and innocent, until the little boy crept up on my daughter and dumped a bottle of water down her back. It took her a moment to register what had just happened, not because she couldn’t tell it was water running down her body, but because she couldn’t understand why it happened. She looked at me and, slowly but surely, started to cry. It was very painful to watch because in that moment I knew why she was so sad. She wasn’t just experiencing getting water dumped on her, she was experiencing a loss of innocence.

Loss of innocence happens through experience. We either play a role in an event (good guy, bad guy, bystander), or simply learn more information about the world through the many sources we have. But the events and information that cause this loss are usually shocking or hurtful. I think of the process like this: When we are born, we are gifted with a jar of innocence marbles. As we experience loss, disappointment, shock or hurt, we lose a marble. Some experiences only cost us one marble, some cost a few a more, and some are so horrific that the jar shatters and we lose all of our innocence marbles in one fell swoop. Looking at my daughter’s face that day, I could see in my mind’s eye a beautiful, shiny marble roll down the driveway, clink through the sewer grate, and fall into the runoff below, never to be seen again. Her jar is still very full, so her shoulder remains relatively chip-free. But I wonder, when will her marbles run out?

Hurt and shock can come from big things and small things, but it’s the accumulation of them that grows us into adults. I remember something as simple as walking into a room when Friday the 13th was on, and seeing Jason’s burnt, scarred face, and being so shocked that the image was permanently seared into my brain. I remember witnessing my friends doing illegal things and the new feelings that stirred up in my chest as a result. I remember being the victim of other people’s actions and wondering why I had to be involved. And yes, I’ve done things I’m not proud of, and those cost me a few marbles, too. Sometimes it’s just happenstance or bad luck that leads to these eye openers. Sometimes it’s calculated because someone wants to hurt you. And the worst is when it’s someone who is supposed to love you, who is supposed to be loyal, who you are supposed to be able to trust. My daughter lost a marble that day because the little boy was someone who she thought would never do anything that wasn’t nice to her on purpose.

I lost most of my marbles by the time I was 17. But what’s important to understand is that I still experience hurt, loss, shock and disappointment. I may have lost my marbles but I gained the tools I need to cope and bounce back in their place. As children begin to lose their innocence, they don’t always know how to manage that grief. This is where the real adulting comes in. We become adults, sadly, when we’ve lost all of our marbles. We become adults when we learn how to cope with grief and harsh realities and rude awakenings. But what we adults need to remember to do is share our knowledge and help children navigate their losses. Help them identify and acknowledge what happened, and to make sense out of something that makes no sense. Help them to know they will be stronger as a result. Help them to know that they do not have to repeat the negative behavior they may have witnessed or fallen victim to. Help them to fill their jar with healthy coping tools. And if you can, help prevent the loss of those innocence marbles in the first place, and prolong the naïveté of childhood for as long as possible! Let’s flip the script and change the meaning of adulting from ordinary to extraordinary!

Be an Amigo

As a child, I was taught to mind my manners, especially when visiting someone else’s home. Be respectful of their rules and practices, listen to and learn about the host, graciously accept what is offered to you, and offer to help in return. I believe these same principles apply when visiting another country.

My daughter and I just traveled to Mexico for the first time. She was buzzing with excitement about so many aspects of the trip, especially the part about missing a few days of school. But I told her she wasn’t missing anything because she was still going to receive an education while we traveled. In fact, this was going to be the best form of remote learning in which she could ever participate! As a parent, I need to seize opportunities like this to ensure the practices I learned as a child are also carried on as her custom.

Before we departed, I read to her about Puerto Vallarta’s history, geography, weather, cuisine, attractions, and economy. We learned that 50% of their workforce is in hospitality, so I had the notion that the general population must be struggling. Although we stayed at an all-inclusive resort, I wanted to be aware of any tipping policies. The receptionist told me tipping was not necessary. Mind you, I’ve worked in hospitality for a long time, and I would never turn down a tip. I also assume the employees are trying to catch-up after the Covid drought. So I tipped. Everybody.

I studied Spanish for four years beginning in 8th grade. Unlike riding a bike, I find it easy to forget how to speak a second language without practice. So, in addition to reading about Puerto Vallarta, I’ve been using Duolingo to brush up on this skill, and to introduce it to my daughter. I want to at least try to be able to speak the language of the country I’m visiting. Although I spoke some Spanish, almost everyone I interacted with spoke English very well, and seemed happy to oblige.

We learned more by walking along the Malecón, viewing and purchasing the wares and fares of the local artists and food vendors.

We learned the most from our taxi drivers. Raul told us about tequila tours and to be on the lookout for coatimundis (which we were lucky enough to spot later that night!). Antonio played mariachi music for us, used google translate on his phone to make sure we understood each other, and he pulled over when there was a sight he wanted us to see. He was calling us “familia” by the end of our ride. Our third driver wanted to know all about us. He said he could tell we were not like other gringas. I laughed, looked down at my fanny pack, and then asked what he thought was different. He replied, “Most Americans who visit are arrogant.” That made me sad and disappointed to think ‘we’ were not minding our manners when visiting someone else’s home. He and I continued to get to know each other for the rest of the drive, and it wasn’t lost on me that he finished each sentence with “mi amiga.”

Being a good guest doesn’t require bending over backwards to please your host, and vice versa. It’s as simple as minding your manners. So please remember, we’re all sharing the same world, so mi casa es tu casa, y tu casa es mi casa, amigos.