Saturday, February 27, 2010

Time Fades

I remember as a child, I was always anticipating the next thing that would happen. I was notorious for getting in the car for a long, family trip somewhere and not less than five minutes later, ask, "Are we there yet?" "How much longer do we have?" "I'm hungry!" "I'm thirsty." "Now I need to go to the bathroom." And, as if something had changed in the last 2 minutes, I'd ask again, "Are we there yet?" "Are you sure we are not there yet?" "How much longer do we have now?"

That was me throughout my entire childhood. I could never truly enjoy the moment because the moment just seem soooooooooooooooooooo long and nothing seemed as worth it as the next thing that was supposed to happen. Perhaps today, someone would have diagnosed me with severe ADHD, given me medication, and I would have enjoyed a lot of those family trips. But instead, I was constantly admonished for being so restless, so impatient, so antsy and branded as a royal pain in the neck.

And so that branding stuck with me. I grew up into my teens, twenties, and even thirties always looking beyond -- never satisfied with the now and here.

Of course, that was always part of my drive, that inner workings of my mind that always made me work that much harder to get where I wanted to get, and I wonder how much I would have accomplished or overcome in life had I not had that drive that always made me yearn for the other side of the mountain.

And speaking of mountains, I will share with you a story that my mother will never let me forget or live down for as long as either one of us lives. When I was just 6, my family went vacationing with one of those camping trailers in the snowy mountains of Bariloche in Argentina. Restless from the lack of excitement on the camping grounds and with no snow in sight (and what is a vacation in Bariloche without snow?), I convinced my parents to take an excursion to a nearby mountain which I had heard through one of the campers had snow on the top.

We drove to nearby Serro Lopez only to find out that the lift to the top of the mountain was shut down for repairs. But there was a dirt road that wound up to the top..... so, practicing to be the lawyer I would later become in life, I put on a case as to why we needed to see the snow and why we needed to drive up the mountain -- my mother, father, brother, two younger sisters, my grandmother Aida, and our two dogs.

The dirt road was narrow and treacherous -- a rock wall on one side and an abyss on the other side. But, did I mention that there was white snow on the top of this mountain?

So we slowly drove up the mountain (or should I say, my father slowly drove up the mountain). As murphy's law would have it, it started to rain halfway up. The rain started coming down hard and turning the dirt road into slush. The wheels of our station wagon were not equipped with the proper traction and having no 4 wheel drive, the car started sliding from one side to the other. What started out as a neat adventure, soon became a nightmare. The car started sliding backwards and as my father would try to accelerate, the wheels would get stuck in the mud. And then, with no traction to move us forward, the car would start sliding backwards again and into the abyss!!!

I started to pray the Hail Mary. My mother started screaming at me for always wanting something more. My grandmother was screaming at my mother to stop screaming at me. And our dachshund, Frankfurt, peed on himself.

The road was steep and narrow and there was no place to turn around. There was no place to go but up with the hope that either we would find a clearing wide enough to turn around and go down, or that it would stop raining and the ground would settle.

Suddenly, my father stopped the car and ordered us all out of it. Dogs, kids, grandmother and all, we all got out of the car. My father emphatically declared that if the car was to slide off the mountain and into the abyss, he would rather die alone than kill his entire family. Yes, I know, a bit dramatic I would say, but drama is something that simply oozes in our family.

So we started our pilgrimage on foot -- 20 ft behind the car as my father maneuvered the station wagon up the mountain -- all of us walking in the rain, praying, crying, making promises of changing our ways if only we were spared this once, etc. I must have prayed 20 entire rosaries in what seemed like an eternity but, in reality, was no more than 1 hour of sheer hell.

Just when we thought it could not get any worse, it stopped raining. My father was able to get better control of the car, and he drove up to a clearing on the road where other cars were parked. Hallellujah, praise the Lord!!! We were saved!!!!! As we walked up, muddy and wet like homeless people to where the fashionable, ski jacket wearing people were gathered, a girl came running up to me and said, "you need to see how beautiful the snow is! It's right around the bend up there!" By now, my entire family had piled back into the car and my father had turned the car to go back down the mountain. I opened up the car door and said, "Mom, Dad, the snow is just up the bend! It's right over there! Can we go????"

Well, I can't remember much else of what happened after that because the pain from my mother's slap across my face hurt all the way down the mountain. To this day she won't let me forget how we all almost died because of my urge to always see what else is out there. As for me, I always wonder how white the snow really was and if it would have made all the difference in the world for us to have seen it. I guess I'll never know.

As I've grown older, much older, like 41 years much older, and have weathered the passage of time, the birth of my children, the death of my father, I've grown to appreciate the "here and now" more and more each day. Don't get me wrong, I still wonder what else is out there for me in life, what other adventures may lie just around the corner, and if the snow is truly whiter on the other side of the mountain. But I don't have that insatiable yearning as I did when I was a child to find out. I realized with the death of my father that life is just so short. In a blink of an eye, life just happens and before you know it, all those things that you yearned for are now behind you.

So now I take each day as a gift. Live each day fully. And notice every little detail of that moment. My kids are still young. I know they are just 6 and 4 years young, but already, I miss those 4 and 6 years of time that flew by me while I was busy practicing law, rebuilding my house, and just plain stressing out about life. It took the loss of a loved one for me to realize just how fast all of this goes by.

Like sunlight reflecting through the crystals of my lamp on my writing desk, one moment the rainbow is there and another moment it is gone. So capture it, savor it, knowing that there is no moment as beautiful and precious as the one you're are in.


  1. I enjoyed your story but, unlike your Mother, I would have to have gone with you to see the snow. To me that would have been the silver looking there's always more to find and teach your children.

  2. yes, oh yes snuggle in with those children ...the vapor goes poooof ... and then there's a wedding and~ and~ and ...

  3. Hello dear Karina!-)***

    So imperssful story do you have in you post...

    I read it and I can understand all you feelings and all you thougts!

    Most of all I like you speech:''So now I take each day as a gift'' .

    This is really important and really good of you!

    Thank you SO much for share you feelings with all of us!-)))

    Many love and care,


  4. Karina, it is so good to find another New Orleans blogger out in this bloggy world. Your posts are just lovley, and this one was touching. Thanks for the wonderful words to start the day.

  5. What a story! I think we all struggle with the challenge of being in the now. I know I do. In those rare moments when I can just - be - I am so thankful.


  6. Hi, everyone one. Thanks for all your kind words.
    Julienne - I too would have gone to the other side of the mountain with my kids.
    CityFarmer - I love those cold mornings snuggled in bed with the kids. We did that this morning!
    Violetta - You are so wonderful!!! Your kind words are very touching to me.
    ImaNolaGirl - I went to your blog yesterday. Stop by and visit me! My shop is at 3652 Magazine (corner of Magazine and Amelia). Would love to meet you in person.
    Claudia - That goes for you too. Come down from NY and stay a while. You can train me to be the actress I always wanted to be.


  7. This is so true---each moment we are given is the only one we really have.
    Relish every one of them.

  8. Your story made me laugh out loud; I was (and really still am!) a very strong willed child. I've always been taken over by these whims that I then rather obsessively throw myself into trying to achieve! It seems like I am always looking for the next mountain to conquer. And I totally identify with the impatience...I read books in the most ridiculous hurry because I just MUST know how the story ends. If I like the story then I usually reread the book multiple times in the following years so that I can actually enjoy the language and images without being distracted by my impatience to see what happens next! Your advice to enjoy the moment is something I hope I can embrace more fully. Thanks for the amusing tale!

  9. Slowing's a timeless lesson and one that I think I'm finally learning after all the years. Loved your story!

  10. Bonjour Karina,
    How true, I just did a post on something similar, I'm learning to slow down and enjoy each moment - step at a time. You have such a talent for story telling.
    Bonne soirée

  11. Buongiorno,
    che belle queste immagini!!!
    le adoro....

    Daniela "Dream Shabby Chic " Milano


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