We're All Living Two Pictures

This time last year- this very week- I buried my grandpa. Three months before that I buried my Mamaw. In-between those major moments of loss I recorded an album, edited a book, found black mold in our rental property and had to find a new place to move into quickly, and a few other special life moments like finding out I had asthma. When Ryan and I's anniversary rolled around on August 10th we both sat on the couch innocently sipping coffee having NO IDEA it was our 12 year anniversary. We were exhausted and oblivious. As we sipped coffee, the Yahoo calendar reminder on our phones went off at nearly the same moment. We looked down, realized it was our anniversary, and both secretly sat terrified, convinced the other one had remembered and we were "that spouse." The one who forgot. Eventually I cracked. "Ryan- did your phone just tell you it was our anniversary? Because mine did and I HAD NO IDEA. I AM SOOOOOOOO SORRY." We breathed a huge sigh of release and we both died laughing. 

During Addison Road days we were always on the road on our anniversary. Usually playing for a festival and celebrating with all-access passes to porta-potties and our bandmates.  It was all kinds of romantic. This year we decided we would get away. We had more than a few missed anniversary years to make up for and I didn't want to wait for our 15 year anniversary because I am the most optimistic-fatalist you will ever meet. What if I don't live that long?!? I routinely tell Ryan that there are at least five reasons why, on any given day, I think I am dying. He tells me "Go in peace," and then smiles that cute, mischievous smile at me so I can't hit him.

So this week we snuck away to the beach. And it was almost perfect. The food, the drinks, the room, the weather, the rest, the time spent alone together. But the beach? The beach was- well- let's just say I concocted 15 different diseases that one could have acquired from that beach. At least. The usually turquoise water, was brown. Each wave weighted down with unending globs of seaweed. The seaweed, said the staff, was washing to shore by the ton. And the smell. Oh, the smell. Some mornings it was strong enough to make me gag out loud. Still- beaches are my thing. Like the ONLY reason we traveled to this place. So I refused to give up on it. Each day I sat under a cabana that was far enough back so I didn't have to make eye contact with the seaweed. My enemy. Each day I held my breath and convinced myself I could live with the smell. And each day I felt a bit sad about it all. Just a bit. I'm a beach girl. And this was not how I fully envisioned my "beach" vacation.  

I took pictures of the ocean each morning because there is always a way to find, shape, frame or create beauty. And today I woke up wanting to post about the trip and found myself picking the most beautiful pictures to show you. And then it struck me--- if I only show my pretty pictures, I am only telling half the story. The story I want to believe so badly for myself. The story I want to give everyone. The pretty version. The one where I spent a lot of saved up money to go to a beautiful beach and actually got to get in the water and enjoy the beauty of the beach. 

But the truth is- it was all very brown and sea-weedy. There were bulldozers hauling off the globs and guys with wheelbarrows and pitch forks working around the clock to remove seaweed as it washed up. The country has been dealing with it for 9 months nows. And for the first time in my life, I went to the ocean and didn't so much as stick a toe in the water. 


There will be more oceans. (Hopefully- you never know.) (Says the fatalistic-hypochondriac.) 

But what it got me thinking this morning and what I want to say about it all is this: Everyone is living in two pictures. The beautiful one they instinctively want to put on display. And the other one. With beaches full of seaweed and guys with pitchforks and wheelbarrows. 

No one wants to talk about the second picture. Maybe because, like me, I want to believe a different narrative. I wanted so badly to enjoy the beach. Maybe because we want people to think something specific about us. Maybe because we are truly optimists seeking to elevate the beauty and not the shortcomings. So we slap the first picture up there. The one that makes it look like we just had a *dream* vacation to the beach. And we don't talk about the seaweed. 

And then everyone walks around thinking that everyone else is living a perfect life. But the truth? We're all living in two pictures. Trying to make the most of the beauty and the disappointments. 

If someone only shows you one type of picture, be wary. 
Don't take too much stock in all the perfect pictures you see. Measuring your life against pictures that don't tell the whole story is dangerous. Because a single picture is never the whole story.

Chances are- somewhere in there- they have pictures of seaweed, too.