searching for the here and now

I’m in Tahoe this weekend. Lake Tahoe is about an hour from my hometown and an hour and a half from where I currently live. It’s a lovely place, famous for its natural beauty. Just outside my cabin window are huge pines and a forest floor littered with pine cones and dry pine needles. During the winter, it snows.

Lake Tahoe is the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevadas, and, at 1,645 feet (501 m), is second only to Crater Lake as the United States’ deepest. The lake is 22 miles (35 km) long and 12 miles (19 km) wide, making it the 26th largest freshwater lake by volume in the world. It’s a popular destination for tourists, including cyclists, skiiers and snowboarders, gamblers, and renaissance fair enthusiasts.

To me, though, it just feels like home.

Tomorrow, we’re going to ride around it. It will be my third full time around the lake. (The last time I tried, shortly before I moved to Taiwan, my dad and I got rained out.) It’s a tough ride. At 73 miles (118 km), the ride contains nearly 3,000 feet (914 m) of climbing. The elevation, though, is the real killer. The lake sits at 6,225 feet (1,897 m), and the ride has a maximum elevation of 7, 083 feet (2,159 m). In the past, this was no big deal. Today, I am struggling with anemia. Tomorrow’s ride may be the hardest of my life.

. . .

But, really, that’s not what’s been on my mind.


In our backyard

Since moving home from Asia, I’ve had a hard time being “present.” Lake Tahoe is particularly lovely this time of year. While at home the high today was 100 degrees F (37.8 C), today in Tahoe, it was a balmy 81 degrees (27.2). Despite this, I have a hard time focusing on the here and now. My mind is constantly wandering to places I’ve been around the world, and even to those I haven’t. A friend of mine who I met in Halong Bay, Vietnam, for instance, is currently puttering around Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Or there’s my blogger friend in Delhi, where the temperatures are now 100-plus degrees every day . . . There’s also Oklahoma, where tornadoes are running wild, and Syria, where the sky is raining bullets.

And it’s this balance that I’m looking for, but, somehow, never finding. I am so grateful for my time away because it made me so much more aware of the big, wide world and all of its glorious, colorful differences. But sometimes I feel trapped by that awareness, too. It’s like the artist who is driven by an unseen passion or anger or angst. Many of the world’s greatest artists were long-lost lovers and dissatisfied friends—idealists and dreamers whose hearts were broken by the imperfectness of this world.


Bluejay on our front porch

And, sometimes, I think that that’s me, too.

In fact, I know that it is.


South Lake Tahoe sunset


Clouds and sky


Water, my love



Images: Mine :)

35 thoughts

  1. I often wonder why things that help to shape you can also take from you as well. Traveling has given me a lot of insight into the world and yet it robs me of enjoying being in one place or feeling truly at home anywhere. I am always thinking of seeing more of the world.

    As for feeling comfortable, Hawaii will always be home for me and Orlando is second. I guess what I really need is a conveniently located airport and all is well.

    Good luck on the ride!

    • Mmm… It’s good to know that someone else understands. Yes, I am convinced that a life of travel is all I want anymore. I am always thinking of people… People in far away places, and how they live, and what they need, and would they believe what my life is like?

      The world is so big…

      I’ve visited Orlando and Hawaii several times… Northern California will always feel like home for me in the traditional sense. But Taipei is a little bit of home, too, as is Hong Kong; oh, and my college town, Chattanooga, too.

      I hope to have more homes before my life is through…

      The ride was awesome. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Thank you, Terri! We had a wonderful time. I was sad to leave… And can you believe this heat? At the beginning of June? It’s unreal! I am NOT happy about it. :(

    • We survived! And had a good time, too. Thank you… And big respect to you peeps who take awesome photos of African farmers and sugar cane cutters! ;)

    • Really? I have several blogger friends who are close, then! For some reason I thought you were on the other side of the nation. In which direction?

  2. Jessica, I really really hope your anemic concerns/issues get resolved! Reading that saddened me coming from such a wonderful soul. :-/

    Beautiful pics of a gorgeous part of western U.S. I hope all of you thoroughly enjoy the 73 miles and survive the 3,000 foot climbs; holy crap! If all of you were dumb enough to invite me, I’d demand EMT’s along or one of you to be fully certified in CPR and 1-mile, 20-minute breaks!

    • Lol, thank you, Professor. Thankfully, there was good support on the ride. There were quite a few rest stops and people cheering us on almost the whole way—it was neat. (My dad and I never actually stopped at any of the rest stops—we made our own—but it was nice to know they were there just in case.)

      So, yes, we had fun. :) And thank you for your concern!

    • I only got to see one sunset, unfortunately, but it was certainly memorable. I love Tahoe, too. Have a lot of memories there…

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! :)

  3. Take a look around you and focus on the “perfectness” of the place you are in. The world is a mess, but that’s no reason for you to go all melancholy.
    And you missed New Zealand!

    • That’s good advice, and what I am trying to do. But having seen places where most people *don’t* travel by car, and where humidity reins, and poverty, too, it’s hard not to look at a beautiful place like Tahoe and wonder if people there know how good they have it… I feel I should be doing more to help people everywhere…

      And I would LOVE to go to New Zealand!!! It’s definitely on my bucket list. :)

  4. I was fortunate to have lived in parts of southern CA for 10 years. I loved every waking day. Laguna Beach, San Clemente and further south towards San Diego are breathtaking. Feelings, sightings, and motivation. I miss that today in my current living arrangement. Unfortunately I moved to Henderson, NV for several years—a wasteful, self-polluting paradise. I created a monster within myself I have never imagine was even possible. The landscape in Nevada can be beautiful, but its greedy, unethical, faux lifestyle in the balmy heat will kill you fast.

    I was lucky to be born all grass fed in Wisconsin. Spent elementary, junior and high school years in America’s heartland: Minnesota. It’s beautiful part of the country with lakes, pine trees, ponds, etc.

    My point is: I don’t know. I am mad I lived in CA and NV for a total of 13 years and never spent time in Tahoe. I always wanted to mountain bike or snowboard there.

    I’m glad I got to experience the culture and living within the states. Very few people want that opportunity, have that opportunity, or will take the opportunity because the majority of humans just like to stay in that one same place, work in the same place, see the same people, do the same things. Is that what you call balance?

    Jesscy – “And it’s this balance that I’m looking for, but, somehow, never finding??? I am so grateful for my time away because it made me so much more aware of the big, wide world and all of its glorious, colorful differences. But sometimes I feel trapped by that awareness, too. It’s like the artist who is driven by an unseen passion or anger or angst. Many of the world’s greatest artists were long-lost lovers and dissatisfied friends—idealists and dreamers whose hearts were broken by the imperfectness of this world.”

    A large majority of humans just find comfort in living and operating in the same space their whole lives.

    So how are you feeling? hahaha. I was trying to grasp and understand your post. I am still not sure I’ve fully gathered…

    • Hi, there. I was a little confused by parts of your comment, but appreciate what you had to say…

      You are right. Many people find comfort in staying in their own comfortable spaces all their lives. Most do, as a matter of fact. To me, it is a shame. As St. Augustine said: “The world is a book. Those who do not travel read only one page.” You *are* lucky to have lived in and seen various parts of the States. I’ve lived in Northern California for most of my life, with the exception of the six years I spent in Chattanooga during college and the past three years while I was in Asia.

      I wish more people would long to travel and be interested in learning about different cultures. Our lives would be so enriched, and the world would be a better place.

      How am I feeling? I’m pensive, to be honest, as this post would suggest. I do not think I will be content to stay in one place all my life. That is all I know.

      Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

      • I love that St. Augustine quote! :) Nice post. Like you I was somewhat confused what I wrote or was talking about. haha. Thanks for being nice and responding to it. Until the next time. .

    • i certainly am broken, tony, in more ways than one. if there is beauty within me, much of it has come from that brokenness, which has shaped me… so, yes, i agree. xo, always

  5. I spent about a year in constant failure at being present.
    My son’s birthday party was last weekend, and the kids made me laugh and laugh. My laughter walked me home for a time. It felt nice for a change.

  6. The imbalance of life is between good and evil. Good follows God but still sins. Evil chooses wickedness, but must contend with the forgiveness granted by God even to evildoers. The quality that brings balance is belief in the Son and His sacrifice for man that makes forgiveness possible. God wants all of you (and me). He is a jealous God; however he forgives even this sin when man is repentant and cries out to Him, “Oh my God, I believe! Help thou my unbelief!” Love, from my heart to yours.

    • Thank you, Marie. I believe God is in all of my struggles—meaning, He is there with me through them, using them to mold and shape who I am/become. It’s a reassuring thought.

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