Today is Phil Hornshaw’s 28th Birthday.
We celebrated with friends earlier this week by heading out to El Coyote for margaritas, tacos, burritos and all edible things Mexican.
I have a bit of an ongoing tradition–I’m incapable of keeping Phil’s surprises a secret. I get too excited and spill the beans. Because Phil enjoys video games and solving puzzles, I created a treasure hunt just for him.
How it worked: I handed him a puzzle that when solved would lead him to the next hiding place. Each time he found a clue, he also found a tiny present and a letter.
At the end of the treasure hunt, he had to create a word from the anagram of letters that he found. The letters spelled out his big birthday surprise: a framed print of Ripley from the Alien movies.
My grandfather–my dad’s dad–died before I was born, but his memory has long been a relevant part of my life.
I feel strangely connected to him in a way that’s a little awkward to explain: the week of my grandfather’s death, my parents discovered that they were pregnant with me. I like to think that it’s almost like our souls brushed against each other on their ways into and out of this world.
I know that my dad, named after his father, modeled himself after the man. That my grandfather worked hard, was just, honest and warm hearted. I know that he was a good person and he was very loved by his family and friends. I also know that he became ill and passed before many feel it was his time to go. My dad now, in his late 50s, has outlived his own father–a fact that I think makes him feel uneasy.
In a way, it’s a little surprising that I haven’t seen very many photos of Bob Foyt senior.
Growing up, I remember that there was a single framed photo of him in our house and that it was taken near the time of his death. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I saw a picture of him from when he was young. He’s a handsome guy and he looks a lot like my dad.
Recently, more photos of him have been popping up on Facebook via Woody Allor, my grandfather’s nephew and a relative I’ve never met. I’ve been able to see these picture’s because my dad’s sisters have been sharing them on their pages. It’s a strange phenomenon for me–to see photos of a man that I’ve both known and yet, never known.
I’m seeing you for the first time, gramps, but who are you? What are you thinking about in these photos? Would we have gone on fishing trips or watched “Wheel of Fortune” like the kids at my elementary school did with their grandfathers? Would I have called you “grandpa” or “grandad” or a more pet-like name, like the one Rosemary has asked us to call her?
The first photo popped up about a month ago, a picture that depicted a younger version of he and my Nana, who is still with us. I was stunned when I saw it. I found myself, days later, pulling up the photo on my phone and staring at it. I was fascinated–it was seeing it for the first time every time I looked. All of these images make me feel happy and comforted–so much so that I’ve pulled copies from Facebook and have saved them.
I’ve been sharing these pictures with my dad, too, sending them in the form of text messages. He seems to like them, though he haven’t talked about them much. I’m excited to talk with him more about them, find out if these are photos he has seen before, or if he’s seeing them for the first time, the next time I come home to Michigan.
It was my idea to go on a getaway to Big Bear Lake.
A small city nestled high up in the San Bernadino Mountains, I first heard of the beautiful ski resort town soon after we moved to Southern California.
A few weeks back I mentioned to Phil that I wanted to get out of the city for a weekend. We haven’t yet had the time or the means to really explore outside of Los Angeles, so there are still a ton of places I’d like to visit throughout California. Because of the time of year, I thought it would be good for us to get some crisp, fresh air and be out in nature. Because it’s just two and a half hours away, this would also be really convenient.
Earlier this week, I pulled the trigger and made the arrangements for us to stay up in Big Bear Lake for a night. The thought of hiking, horseback riding and shopping in the villages small boutiques all sounded fun to me, but if we just hung out in the hotel room’s jacuzzi tub and sat near the fire, that would also be perfectly fine with me.
We woke up early Saturday morning, grabbed some coffee, hopped in the car and headed east for the mountains. After an hour into our car ride, Phil clued me in to the fact that he had a “couple of surprises” planned for us. Since he’s kind of horrible at keeping secrets, he told me that their first of my surprises was a couples’ massage in Big Bear Village. It just so happened that it was exactly what I wanted to hear.
The winding drive up to Big Bear was stunningly beautiful: We were surrounded by mountains covered in massive pine trees. Because the sky was clear and it was sunny, it was all that you could see for miles.
On the way up to Big Bear Lake
When we reached Big Bear, we had an hour before our massage appointment, so we had some hot soup and sandwiches at a small pizzeria and then explored The Village. There was a lot of touristy shops, but there were some gems in the mix. Inside of an old fashioned candy store, I found Cinnamon Bears, a vegan friendly gummy that I haven’t come across since I’ve left Michigan. I also got myself a dress at a small boutique.
Our massage was at The Village Spa and Wellness Center, one of the most beautiful facilities that I have ever been to. (Ahem…I’ve had my fair share of massages in the last year.) The staff asked which areas were troubling me most (shoulders, neck and back) and spent most of the time working out all of my knots and stress. All of the while, Native American flute music played. I was in heaven for a full 90 minutes.
Afterward, in a bit of a daze, we wandered around the village more and got ourselves cider chai lattes at one of the local coffee shops.
Because it was pretty cold in Big Bear (in the 20s!) we soon checked into our hotel and took full advantage of the hot tub and fireplace.
When the sun began to set, Phil encouraged me to get my winter gear back on so we could head out for my next surprise: a horse-drawn carriage ride around the lake. The white carriage was a classic Victorian coach that had been decked out for the holidays, detailed with holly and brass bells. The driver took us for a 45 minute ride around the lake, drove us by some of the multi-million dollar log cabin homes and throughout the village. The best part was that we could see stars twinkling across the crystal clear winter night sky as well as all of the Christmas lights throughout Big Bear. We probably would have been freezing if it weren’t for the huge furry blanket that we cuddled up beneath.
Afterward, Phil took me to dinner at a small, charming little restaurant a stone’s throw away from our hotel. It wasn’t a long walk from the carriages, but we were still freezing when we arrived. To get warm, we sipped ginger ale and whiskey cocktails and sat close to each other in our booth. For dinner, Phil had stuffed salmon and I had a garlic veggie pasta.
When we were finished eating, Phil wanted to take me somewhere up higher, he said, so we could get a closer look at the stars and a better view of the mountains. We spent an hour driving around and unfortunately, we never found a scenic vantage point that worked well in the dark. I took note of his persistence, thought it was strange, but didn’t dwell on it.
We headed back to the hotel so that we could warm up by the fire. It was some time later, after we had enjoyed each others company and sipped on some champagne, that Phil told me had something to give me. I assumed it was a special early Christmas gift and sat down on the edge of the bed.
He asked me if I remembered the first present that I ever gave him. I did–a notebook that I decoupaged for him back when he was my editor at CM-Life. It’s an item that he has told me many times meant the world to him–he still has it and uses it.
That’s when he pulled out a notebook that he had decoupaged especially for me, something that he had never done before. It had my picture on it and words and images that reminded him of how he felt about me. I opened it up and on the first page he had hand written “I love you with everything that I am.”
I tried to turn the page to flip through the rest of the journal, but it was stuck. When I realized that the pages had been taped shut, I pulled it open. There was a diamond ring wedged inside of a shallow hole that had been cut into the paper.
That’s when Phil went down on his knee and asked me to marry him. When we talk about it now, Phil said that I screamed “WHAT!?”, but I only remember saying “yes” before bursting into tears and sobbing into his shoulder.
Phil and I had discussed our engagement with my parents while we were home in Michigan this past November, so it’s not like I didn’t know that this would happen. I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. Phil told me it probably wasn’t going to happen until after his book came out this Spring.
I had accidentally destroyed my phone earlier this week and so I kept using his to text friends and make calls. He was very weird about this at times–and I just assumed he was concerned about potentially spoiling a Christmas gift. Looking back, he was behaving strangely, but again, I just assumed he was freaking out between work and the holidays.
I’m still just kind of speechless about the whole thing.
The last 9 months that I worked for Starbucks, I spent my weekends at the store. My Saturday and Sunday morning shifts would start in the early morning, usually sometime between 4:30 and 6:30 in the morning.
Since I started working for Brave Dog full-time, I’ve got my weekends back. I have time to myself, to break free from the grind of the work week and put my feet up.
I get to have a social life on Friday nights, stay up late, sleep in and go out for brunch with my boyfriend. The last few weekends, I’ve used this time to write, work out, get a massage and spend a whole day with friends. I’m hoping to use this time get back into hiking. (I miss it!)
I’ll never take this gift of personal time for granted again as long as I live.