balcony picnic

solo picnic with book: homemade hummus, baby sweet peppers, roasted asparagus, and pita on thrifted Heath Rim plate

(Note: This content was originally published on May 12. While I was doing minor blog edits on May 21, I somehow re-posted it out of order. Apologies for any confusion.)

These days, with my working two jobs and commuting two-and-a-half hours each day on the bus, leaving two whole hours at home before bed most days, any weekend spent mainly at home feels a luxury, precious hours of silence and near-solitude. And so what if I have to spend much of that time doing domestic work: cooking for the week ahead, doing dishes and laundry, ironing, cleaning, paying bills, and tidying up little piles of clothes and papers built up during the workweek? At least I don't have to go anywhere.

Because the weather the last couple weeks had been unseasonably warm, blue-skied, and dry (Have global warming effects finally reached Portland?), I'd been taking my new thrifted purple-pink-gray-and-blue picnic blanket to work (see here for the blue-and-green one found last summer) and eating my lunch out in a far corner of the schoolyard lawn. These woven cotton blankets in colorful stripes are large yet featherweight and thus perfect for travel. I have no idea where they're made (though my guess is India) or who markets them because they lack tags, but they scream summer.

Lately I've been trying to incorporate more little luxuries into my days so it feels more like I'm living than just existing, and lunchtime picnics at work qualify, stretching out on the soft grass for a half hour or so, feeling the spring sun on my skin. So do weekend picnics out on the balcony. So does wearing my Great-aunt Mary's vintage Native-American silver jewelry, nothing valuable but personally meaningful, as if I'm carrying around bittersweet secrets on my body, visible only to me. So does buying a new yoga DVD to vary the routine. So does wearing the vintage black lace nightgowns I'd been saving for a different future that may not come, which no one sees but me. Such things are small treats that mean nothing to anyone else, the lesson I've finally learned about life's most important romance: with one's self.

Eating my solo picnic out on the balcony in early evening, I heard popping noises from the yard kitty-corner, the one that had the keg-stand party the night before, and some guy's voice saying, "They'll think it's a blue UFO," which I'd already spotted, running inside for my camera. One of their balloons, a turquoise Mylar star, had gotten loose during clean-up, the balloon tumbling fast on the breeze, rising higher and blowing north—like global finance.

neighbor's stray Mylar balloon (1)

neighbor's stray Mylar balloon (2)

neighbor's stray Mylar balloon (3)

neighbor's stray Mylar balloon (4)

neighbor's stray Mylar balloon (5)

neighbor's stray Mylar balloon (6)

neighbor's stray Mylar balloon (7)

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