Getting support to start

We got a later start than I would have wanted to on Monday morning (6/12/2016) and that was ok because we have all of June to make this road trip happen. The original plan was to drive to San Diego spread ashes. Then drive to Temecula to see one of my best friends and then stay at another best friend’s house in Temple City (a part of Los Angeles). I really wanted my two girlfriends to give me a hug before this trip started and wanted them to meet my favorite blonde before we embarked on this travel adventure. I’m not the most amazing person at asking for support so being intentional about starting my trip with these two women was a huge step in self-care.

 

When made it to Temple City in 5 hours, which let’s be honest is great time especially since we ended up hitting rush hour traffic. We decided we would hit San Diego on the way back and see my girlfriend, Andrea and my brother on that leg of the trip. When we got ten minutes out of Temple City I texted Sarah and asked if we could take a nap in her back yard. Of course she said yes and wished us luck with her two dogs. By all accounts a miracle happened and I was able to get the dogs to chill out long enough for us to hop the fence, unlock it and spread out for a well-deserved nap. Our nap was ruined by laughter and talking but it was nice to just rest.

 

Sarah’s husband came home and we talked until Sarah arrived. It was a nice evening of laughter, talking, good food, watching the Warriors win the NBA finals (Go DUBS!) and just overall great company. I explained my trip to her because still no one but my favorite blonde and I really knew the process of the trip. Sarah was excited for us and provided the support that only 23 years of friendship can give. You know the kind that says, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do because I don’t have enough bail money and you’ll rot in jail. HA!

 

We left the next morning after a long hug and cleaning (my love language to say thanks!). We hit the road and headed for Vegas.

The plan of the final goodbye

Truth be told I’ve been planning this trip since April. When David and I began talking about summer vacations I decided I wanted to take Dad on a trip. When I was like 21 I started to do a research project for dad. I called the little town dad grew up in, Xenia, OH and spoke with the county clerk/town librarian for months. We went back and forth via email and she was amazingly helpful. I received copies of census records, death certificates, and property documents, anything you can think of to learn more about Dad’s history. I was going to put a big thing together for dad. That didn’t happen because as always, I got busy. I did process it with him and we had a great conversation about his history! I loved that conversation I learned so much.

 

We talked about taking a trip back to Ohio and up to New Hampshire, where Dad attended Dartmouth for his undergrad education. It was going to be a fun trip across the country. I wanted to stop in LA and see where he first landed when he came to California in the seventies and then just travel with him. It was slated to be an amazing adventure! He ended up getting married and my life as an adult took flight and college became a thing.

 

So in April when I hit that pivotal “four-month” marker of grief I decided that I needed to do something with the ashes that my mother had given me to take care of. David and I decided to take an anniversary trip and he was unable to take an extra 10-14 days off. He talked about taking 5 days off and he could fly back. That didn’t appeal to me so I left it in God’s hands. I prayed on it and knew that it would happen. Power of prayer is an amazing thing.

 

When my favorite blonde and I began talking about this ridiculous road trip we both quickly realized that this was going to be a real thing I realized I needed to put to paper the idea of what would this trip look like. The idea was to take the trip Dad and I had talked about and spread him along the way, minus going to New Hampshire because that’s a long way to drive. I knew I wanted to spread him in Xenia. That was the end game. Everything in between was up for negotiation. She and I came up with a rough plan allowing me to process as we talked and whatever came up became a thing. The timing of the trip was amazing. During the course of this trip the 6th month anniversary of Dad’s passing will happen and we will arrive in Xenia the day before Father’s Day. Truly like God wrote this out and said here ya go!

 

The plan is much less of a plan than it is a series of things that I think might work and things that pop up as we go.

 

  1. San Francisco, CA: When dad moved from Ohio he moved to Los Angeles and then to SF. He loved SF and had so many awesome stories to tell about it. He even lived with his brother for a hot minute. I was raised in the Bay Area, not SF but the majority of my childhood was spent in the Bay Area. I thought it fitting to start here.
  2. Las Vegas, NV: My father and biological mother played a lot of poker professionally. This was my dad’s favorite hobby, was really good at it and he was happiest when he could play cards. He taught me how to play poker and shuffle cards before I learned how to play Go Fish. It’s a thing in my family. So of course I wanted a piece of him to be in Vegas.
  3. Xenia, Ohio: This is where dad spent the first 18 years of his life. After college ended I don’t know if he spent time back there I believe he moved after. I know in his twenties he left and never came back. He wanted to go back. He wanted to show me his life, his past.
  4. San Diego, CA: San Diego is purely for me. I love water. I know Dad loved water so that was enough for me. I graduated from college in San Diego and he was the reason that I went to college. It wasn’t even an option; of course Jamieko is going to college. He made me secure with being intelligent, he encouraged it. He encouraged me to do so much! San Diego is often considered one of the most beautiful places in California. I’m going to Carlsbad because that is one of my favorite places and it’s closest to my college.
  5. Monterey, CA: Monterey County became home for Dad when he got married again. So of course finishing in Monterey is fitting. My mother asked if she could join and she had a place she would love to spread. Originally I was going to take him to the Monterey Beach Hotel because I know that the two of them went there often and he loved that place. I am excited she’s taking part in this process. One of my best friends said she’d meet up with us and join in the final goodbye. I’ll probably invite one more friend.

 

So that’s the plan and mini-reasons of why I chose the spots I did. Some of the stops I’m making where ashes will not be spread are of significance and I will talk about that when we get there.

 

I’m so excited that this trip is taking place! I am so freaked out that this trip is taking place! I am also so blessed to be taking it with someone who lets me be ME like Popi did. I can be messy without judgment and be encouraged to process and not deflect. I can laugh at stupid things, cry without having to be silent, have a serious conversation with, sit in silence, then laugh until I want to pee on myself again all in the span of ten minutes. I am excited to be taking Dad on the road trip we talked about for years. Here’s to saying goodbye ❤

– run JKO run

And it starts. . . as it ends

Sunday I had planned on spreading the beginning of Dad’s ashes at some point while I was in San Francisco with my favorite blonde and her mom. Let’s be honest I wasn’t going to tell her but decided last minute to tell her that was my plan. She was jazzed about it.

We got there in time for the event we were going to and so spreading the ashes before wasn’t an option. I had hoped she would forget about it. Turns out that’s why she’s my favorite blonde because as soon as we got in the car she asked where I wanted to go.

In true Jamieko fashion I panicked, I deflected and tried to avoid at all costs to follow through with this process. She gently encouraged me and we drove until I made a decision and that was what I needed. We ended up driving to Golden Gate Park. Let’s be honest I didn’t know that that’s where I was going to end up. Hell I didn’t even know that that’s where the Conservatory of Flowers lived. Tragic. I know.

It was dark and I didn’t know where to go. I was the person who ended up directing all the while trying to contain my inner freak out of the first step of this two week process. Her mom pulled over in a random spot which made me super nervous. Let’s be honest I’m probably the biggest “rule follower” that I know. So pulling over illegally in a closed park in SF to spread ashes (which is a no-no) was nerve wracking.

It was cold and yet I began to sweat as I opened the door to get out. I reached in her flowered bag and grabbed the sandwich size zip lock bag that Dad lived in and awkwardly got out of the car. My favorite blonde and I walked along the sidewalk as I rambled fluently speaking gibberish as she walked next to me making me laugh about my ridiculousness. We walked far enough out of site of the car and walked onto the grass. It was dark yet you could clearly the grass and the roots of the trees.

I hadn’t prepared for this. Period. I thought it would be easy and freeing. I think that would be the word I would choose, freeing. But here I was frozen with Dad in a zip lock and my friend staring at me at a distance waiting patiently for the next step. What the hell is the next step? I hadn’t thought this far ahead. Like do you say something? Do you throw the bag and run? Do you twirl in a circle? HELL!  Someone tell me what to do! First things first, open the bag.

I tried three times to dump the bag, squealing each time and dancing around like I had to pee. My nervous energy did nothing for my decision-making skills and did nothing for me except make me want to vomit. A few minutes later and on the fourth time I finally walked over to the area where the grass met the wooded trees creating a nestled cave and protection. I squealed and dumped the bag in a swinging motion in the hopes that they would magically fly away? Who knows. I was nervous and so uncomfortable that I was being watched. I tried to say something besides gibberish mixed with laughter. I have zero idea what I wanted to say, but let’s be real, I hadn’t planned on saying anything. It turned out to be something like,”Uh ok ta-dah!? Thanks? Bye dad.”

I walked over to my favorite blonde stood there and was at a loss. Like what now? Do you ask for support? Are the cops coming? Is her mom gonna honk the horn? Oh shit am I gonna cry? All, which made me too nervous to do anything except say, ok let’s go. She paused and expressed how it was ok to cry and we could take a minute. I think I took 20 seconds before walking to the car. She shook her head and followed me.

Her mom made awkward conversation asking about why I chose to spread the ashes on each step of the road trip and I started talking. I began doing my silent cry that I have perfected and thank the Lord Jesus she had to focus on not killing us so I didn’t have to speak anymore. I sat in the back and silently cried. My favorite blonde reached back and held my hand as I texted my best friends and freaked out via text. You know, the healthy way to emote.

So… that’s how this road trip began. Spreading dad at the beginning of where he talked about as a good thing. He didn’t share much unless I asked and I didn’t learn to ask until it was too late and he was too weak to carry on those heavy conversations. I am grateful for the years and moments that I did go into nosy Jamieko mode and pried into my dad’s very private life. I was told once by one of my black friends, that black people don’t share history. They don’t talk about the past because it already happened. That was my dad. Some things I believe are culturally passed down whether you ask for it or not.

This begins where it ends in the Bay Area… Thank you Stanford for keeping dad alive so long. Thanks San Francisco for so many fun memories for Dad and with Dad. Thanks for keeping him safe on this first step of this amazing journey!

– run JKO run

Interview this or that?

I have began multiple posts the last few months and yet they sit in my draft folder unfinished and unmotivated to reach that finish. Is it strange I’m ok with that? I feel like at some point I’m going to blow up my blog with posts from February, March and April. Yet here we are in June and none of that might make sense. Oh well such is life!

Friday was the first day of summer break. Well in theory Thursday  was but I did a favor for my supervisor and worked a half a day yesterday interviewing potential candidates. Interviews intrigue me. Not because of anything specific but just because you are often someone you’re not normally. You know? You’re nervousness seeps out, you’re trying to put your best foot forward, you’re trying to put yourself on display like some sort of show pig who wants to be purchased at the end of the county fair.

Being the one to interview is really interesting! Reminds me of how many types of interviews there are. How many interviews you do in your lifetime, daily even! You as a person who interacts with people interview people every day. Do you realize that? Your children to see if they are in trouble, your spouse to see if you’re still connected, your boss to subconsciously see how you’re doing in your job, your friends to find the right support, the list goes on!

The last few weeks I’ve been interviewing my entire life. That process has been intense! Almost like a life crisis without being upset about it. I was doing it very subconsciously at first but now I am intentional. Who in my life makes me a better person? Do I like doing this? Am I really friends with you or do you use me for support? Do you make me laugh? Where is my smile? A daily interview to ensure my self care and people I surround me with matches my lifestyle. That lifestyle goal solely to be genuinely happy. 

The death of my father taught me a lot. The major focus now is, life is too short to not be happy. Too short to be for everyone else. Too short to not laugh. My interviews aren’t for a job or for a potential spouse they are to bring my laugh back permanently. So here’s to the interviews that continue, to me being the interviewer and the interviewee. To the adventure of the next step of life!

Here’s to laughter. 

-run JKO run