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A Little Lost, A Little Found Shorts Stories

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

Here’s another short story. This month the prompt was “flowers” for 1800 words. They say a sad/heavy ending will always get more praise than a happy one. What do you think?

“She loves me. She loves me not.” Caleb chanted the mantra, plucking one petal at a time. If only the final petal would declare, “She loves me!” After three she-loves-me-not’s and two she-loves-me’s, Caleb used all the strength of his eight-year-old arm and threw the last stem back to the ground. The stem sauntered down with the same dignity as if she chose to glide to the ground herself. Caleb scratched his head and wondered if the children’s rhyme was to be trusted.

He looked around the open field for another flower when he heard footsteps and looked over his shoulder to see Pa walking toward him. “What you doin’ son?” he asked.

Caleb glanced toward his pile of disappointing flowers and scuffed his toe into the ground. “I was plucking petals to figure out if Mary May loves me or not.”

Pa’s eyes crinkled when he smiled. “Oh, and what did the flowers tell you?”

Caleb shrugged his shoulders and sighed. “Not much. Sometimes she loves me and sometimes she doesn’t.”

“Well, that can happen from time to time.” Father and son stood side-by-side, looking at the field of wild flowers without seeing it. Caleb wondered how in the world he could figure out if Mary May loved him. Pa wondered when the boy became such a romantic. He knew a girl loved flowers, that’s how he got Ma to go court him. He supposed a little childhood love couldn’t hurt nothing.

Pa lifted his head and snapped his fingers, “Hey! I got an idea. Why don’t you make a bouquet and ask Mary May herself if she loves you? Maybe the flowers don’t know how she feels, but she could tell you.”

Caleb looked up at his pa and grew an inch taller. His eyes widened and he gasped, “Yeah, Pa! Great idea!”

He ran two steps then halted. Caleb turned to his pa, “I better step careful. I can’t be giving Mary May any broken flowers.”

Pa laughed, he’d never heard the word “careful” come from Caleb’s lips. “Okay son, I’ll leave you to it. If you need anything, I’ll be feedin’ the horses.”

Pa turned toward the barn feeling proud that could help his little boy find love.

Caleb tiptoed into the open field. He stopped, folded his arms, and scanned the field the way he’d seen surveyors do, except they had fancy tools to help them divide and map the land.

Plotting his path he whispered, “Yes, I’ll bring her the flowers and ask her myself”. The flowers bowed in reply as a breeze kissed the earth.

With the day stretching out before him, Caleb figured he had all the time in the world. His belly was full of breakfast, the sun decorated herself with a dainty cloud, and baby blue eyes stretched their petals open, embracing the morning warmth. Caleb crept through the field selecting only the choicest of flowers for Mary May. He knelt in the grass, squeezed his left eye and widened his right eye to inspect the next potential member of his bouquet. Any cut, fold or stain meant the little flower would be passed over today. Caleb swept from one end of the field to the other as the bouquet in his hand grew.

The sun removed her cloud and bathed in the blue sky at noon, then began her western descent. Caleb looked at the growing bouquet and smiled with satisfaction. But, wait a darn minute. The first white daisy he had picked was now drooping, and — was that a broken petal? He chided himself to be more careful and he set to finding a replacement.

Caleb backtracked through the field and found a daisy who had escaped his noticed the first time around. He whispered his gratitude to the wilted blossom. With his right hand, he laid her to rest in the shade of her sisters while his left hand held the bouquet high in the air. He didn’t want the poor daisy’s death to scare the rest of his bouquet.

Caleb’s ears perked up and he turned his head. The lunch bell rang out fast and urgent. Ma called, “Caleb, time to eat!”

Yesterday and every day before, Caleb had broken into a sprint toward the house when the lunch bell had clanged. Today, Caleb looked from the house, to his flowered hand, back to the house. His knees wobbled with energy ready to burst through his feet. His legs didn’t understand why they were standing still, the lunch bell was ringing after all. Instead of launching into a sprint, Caleb nestled the bouquet into his arms and walked toward his ma’s voice. As Caleb stepped toward the house, he realized he’d never seen a grown up run. Does love make you walk?

With so much time on his hands between the field and the house, Caleb thought about Mary May. She had the curliest blonde hair in school, and there were a whole 25 kids there now. Caleb never tugged on her pretty ringlets like the other boys. He was too afraid he’d pull one straight and it wouldn’t curl up again, plus she never laughed when the other boys pulled her curls.

Mary May didn’t have the prettiest dresses in school, but she didn’t need them with her smile. Caleb only had to glimpse her upturned mouth and his whole day brightened, even in winter when the snow was so shiny it made his eyes squint. One time, the fourth graders were teasing a first grader, because his shoes were too big. They called him, “Little Duck” and quacked at him all day. Mary May wasn’t scared, she marched up to the fourth graders, pointed her finger and glared into their souls. All she said was, “Stop it.” And, they did. It was a recess miracle. 

Caleb’s hands trembled. What if she didn’t love him? She might stare into his soul and say, “Go away.”

Ma’s voice broke through his fear. “Caleb, come on. What’s taking you so long?”

She leaned out the back door, waving Caleb inside. “What you got cradled there?”

“A bouquet, Ma.” Caleb looked down and caressed the petals with his finger.

“For me?” Ma asked with a teasing grin.

“No, Ma.” Caleb puffed out his chest and said, “I’m gonna give them to Mary May and ask her if she loves me.” He lifted his arms and offered his haul to Ma for approval. She lifted the bouquet out of Caleb’s arms and inspected his work. She hooked her finger around a sprig of sage and brought to her nose.

“Careful, Ma!” Caleb yelped, startling his mother. She nearly dropped the flowers.

Caleb grabbed fistfuls of hair and jumped wildly, “Ma! I spent all morning picking just the very best flowers for Mary May. Not a scratch, not a tear, not a speck.”

Ma tensed at Caleb’s outburst, but she took a deep breath, relaxed, and laughed. “Nothing but the best for the one’s we love, huh?”

Caleb grinned and nodded, Ma understood.

“Let’s put them in water while you eat. I promise to be gentle.”

While he ate lunch, Caleb fixed his eyes on the flowers so they wouldn’t drift away, or disappear, or die. He haphazardly pierced the plate with his fork in search of his food. He glanced down faster than a blink to make sure all the ham was indeed gone. He then used his fingers to search for peas and corn, all the while maintaining eye contact with the bouquet.

When he had eaten the last pea and gulped the last swallow of milk, Caleb pushed the chair back from the table, hopped onto his feet and stepped toward the kitchen counter. The flowers stood in a mason jar soaking up sun and water, not one had wilted under his watch.

“Ma, can I take these to Mary May’s now?”

“Alright. How about we get you a ribbon for those flowers?”

“That’s a great idea Ma! She’ll love it. All her ribbons are pink. Do you have any pink ribbon?”

She walked to the armoire and rummaged through her sewing kit.

“Aha! Here we go, a pink ribbon for my boy.” Ma held the ribbon high and cut it for Caleb.

Caleb lifted the bouquet out of the jar. He stood on tiptoes, grabbed the flowers, and stretched the bouquet high above his head so each stem could clear the lip of the jar. Ma gawked.

Yesterday’s Caleb would have toppled the jar and spilled water all over the counter and floor. Does love make you careful?

He held the bouquet up for Ma while she tied the ribbon around the stems. Then, he settled the flowers into the crook of his arm and set off toward Mary May’s house.“You know where she lives?” Ma asked.“Oh yeah, right behind the schoolhouse.” Caleb said.“Okay then, be back before dark.” Ma kissed him on the top of his head and waved goodbye.

Caleb figured since running to school took not-too-much-time, then walking to Mary May’s might take a-bit-more-time-than-that. But, he failed to consider that running in morning air, crisp from night’s cool breath, was altogether different than walking under the sun’s pride in the heat of the day.

Caleb walked down the dirt road, cradling his treasured blooms. He imagined Mary May’s face when she saw him. How could she not love someone who brought her flowers?

With every step, the sun grew hotter. He felt petals sticking to the inside’s of his elbows, he felt droplets running down his neck, his hair matted down on his forehead. A country mile never felt so long.

The schoolhouse came into view, then Mary May’s house. Caleb’s mouth was dry but his heart pushed him forward. He held the flowers tight to his chest, forgetting their fragile stems.

A few more steps and Mary May would declare her love to him. Panting, eyes fixed on her house, Caleb didn’t see a mangled root reaching out to grab passers-by. His toe caught the root, his arms flailed, the bouquet dropped, and he fell on top of his precious flowers. 

Dirt melded with sweat, tears fought their way out, Caleb coughed. He rose to his knees, picked up the flowers, and assessed the damage. Crushed, wilted, dirty. These would never do. 

His knee cried out in pain, his hand stung with anger, his feet itched to escape. Caleb blinked and streams of tears cleaned tracks down his cheeks.

Caleb threw the remnants of a lovely bouquet to the ground and let his legs do the very thing they’d been wanting to do all day. He ran.

He ran and didn’t stop for a breath until he saw the field of wildflowers stretching out before him. He knelt over his knees and heaved. Then, Caleb fell to the ground and cried. The setting sun saw his pain and whispered a cool breeze to soothe his pain. The flowers Caleb passed over this morning, danced and tickled his skin. His breathing slowed, his tears ran dry.

Does love make you hurt?

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found van build

3 ways before/after photos are like magic

I fell prey to the magic of before and after photos. For months now, Ivan has been watching YouTube videos, reading articles, researching parts and plans. He’s been building an arsenal of knowledge about processes and products required for a van build. On the flip side, I’ve been browsing van builds as they come up in my Instagram feed. I started following a few van lifers (see below) and periodically read their happy, dreamy content. I didn’t realize I was succumbing to the magic of before and after photos until Ivan put his hands on the van and started cutting, drawing, sawing, and buying all sorts of equipment. For example, this week Ivan installed the solar panels and the air vents.  It took a couple of days, but the sense of accomplishment was palpable when Ivan finished. Hours and days go into the build, and then it can be summed up in a sentence or a 10 minute video – if only big projects could be actually be done that quickly. 

Ah, bare bones.
Look how fast it was to insulate! (not)

We know social media provides a distortion of reality, we know this deep down. If you’re like me, though, we let ourselves forget it in day-to-day scrolling and liking. So, I had this little idea that before/after photos act like magic tricks and here are three ways it reminds me of magic. Afterward, I’d love to hear (read) your own examples of social media magic!

  • It’s actually feels like waving a wand

The magical part of swiping, is that you literally wave your thumb and the magic happens! Look, it’s done! In the first picture, the project seemed daunting and huge. However, in less than a second the finished product is there before my eyes. Wow, it must have been a lot of work, but here it is. I love swiping back and forth between the images, it’s like undoing the magic and reapplying it instantaneously. The unfinished product won’t be there for long, because I can wave my magic wand (thumb) and voilà! It’s inspirational, it shows us these projects are doable, but it teases the mind like a delightful magic trick.

  • It skips the mental work

There are several days here and there where the productivity is invisible – meaning Ivan is thinking and planning. Each stage of the build requires fore knowledge of the next two or three stages. Before Ivan makes a move, he visualizes Ivan the carpentry, wiring, and plumbing. Some days he didn’t build or paint or saw anything. I’d find him walking around inside and outside the van with a furrow in his brow and arms crossed. The “thinking air” is almost palpable. At the end of the day, we’d talk a little. I would asked, “How did it go? What did you do?” to fire up a small conversation.

There’s a sense that “thinking a lot” isn’t productive, that it’s wasting precious time to get the build done. Swiping between a before/after image or watching fast-paced clips in a project video, skips the thinking time. And, thinking is absolutely critical! Without thinking, double-checking, replanning, trying different angles, there would certainly be mistakes – and this project is too permanent for mistakes. If you’re getting ready for a van build or project, it’s okay to take a day or two and just think. This is why Ivan is better suited to the building task than myself. I tend to jump in and figure things out along the way, I like the sense of discovery and learn through trial and error, although this process is often inefficient. 

  • It glosses over the beauty of physical labor

Even though the magic swipe piques interest, curiosity, and amusement – it glosses over the beauty of physical labor. You could purchase an RV that’s livable. You could purchase a van that’s already been converted. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I could easily be talked into it as long as we had enough money saved to use cash for it. Ivan and I even had a conversation along those lines. But, from watching the YouTuber’s he enjoys so much, he wanted the experience of building up the tiny home from scratch. It would be boring to see videos of someone sawing out a square in the side of a vehicle, but that’s what the van build is. YouTube videos show the hard labor involved, but even then it’s cut and shortened to accommodate our attention span. Admittedly, no one should be expected to watch someone else measure, remeasure, and cut. I’m just saying the magic of swiping cannot impart the beauty of physical labor being poured into a construction project. 

Prior to our own build, I’d see a video here or there and look through before/after images. While a person can appreciate the enormity of building projects, I certainly did not have any sense of the time involved. Swiping between photos gives the illusion of magical transformations. It’s not magic, it’s long, it occurs inch by inch and minute by minute.

I’m still going to swipe and like as much as I please, but now I have a greater appreciation for everything in between the photos – the sweat, stress, mistakes, and boring days of painting. I would not have understood the magic trick prior to owning a van – and that’s okay, it’s not a bad thing at all. But, now my curiosity is piqued. Are there any other delightful magic tricks you’ve noticed on social media?

Comment and share!

Talk soon,

Hanna 

Popular YouTubers – Eamon & Bec, Trent & Allie, Tio Aventura

Products to Shop – click here!

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found travels/travel nursing van build

Back in Action

He’s home! He’s finally home!


It could have been 4 weeks or 18 weeks, once Ivan walked out of the airport and into my arms the pain of missing him dissolved into relief. Like putting on a favorite old t-shirt, we fit together just right as if no time had passed – but, we also felt a little more tender and little more grateful to be together.

Moments after reuniting at the airport

In no time we were planning for the future. I put in my noticed at school that I would not be returning in the fall. Ivan and I felt like now is the time to do something a little daring, a little crazy.

We spent a year traveling in the past. Ivan is a nurse and there is a position called, “travel nurse”. A travel nurse gets hired with a company who has relationships with hospitals. The hospitals come say, “We need nurses” and the company sends the nurses. Ivan had an employed, but worked at 5 hospitals during the year. We lived in Maine, California, Idaho, and then back to Utah.

With this experience under our belt, we had been toying with the idea of traveling nursing again but this time, with a trailer or camper. We had fun living in different apartments and AirBnB’s. There was something satisfying about knowing, “I can only keep what fits in the car.” On the flip side, we had to hunt for the perfect furnished apartment and be willing to pay a premium for said furnishings.

Ivan’s recent contract in New Jersey gave us just enough cash to buy a Ram ProMaster van – this has quickly become our next adventure. After a few weeks of emotional recovery and van hunting, Ivan found one that might work. After a few days of me applying a bit of wifely pressure, we agreed to buy a ticket to Chicago. We texted the dealership on Sunday to set an appointment, bought the flights, and will land on Monday. I’m so anxious, but excited.

My mind leans toward worst case scenarios, so let’s play Worst Case Scenario: we arrive and the van has been sold, and there are no other alternatives. In that case, we would find lodging and a ticket home. We spent $550 getting there, so that would be easily $1,000 for nothing but a story. Maybe such a story/failure/mistake wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but I certainly dread it. Now, I have to focus on belly breathing so my body doesn’t stress and switch to sympathetic mode. Next scenario – we go, the van is there but for some reason or another, it’s not a good fit and we walk away. The consequences are the same as above. Final scenario – we go, we just spent $550 getting there, so we talk ourselves into something we don’t actually want just because of what it took to get there. I guess this isn’t worst case scenario, because the price of the van is $16,000. That leaves us $4,000 in the budget for fixing up unseen problems.

This brings us back to our original decision making. There are new vans with lots of miles, old vans with less miles, higher cost, lower cost – so it becomes a matter of fitting all those pieces together. We were debating between a $20,000 van and a $16,000 van. We settled on the cheaper one with the understanding that there will likely be those pesky car problems you don’t foresee and we’d at least have an extra $4,000 to put toward it. $4,000 goes a long way in car maintenance.

Now, we are sitting at the airport, waiting minute by minute for boarding to begin. I’m scared, excited, I feel a bit reckless, but I also feel like an adventure-seeker. Sure, I’ll be skipping out on work and haven’t thought through those consequences. Sure, we’ll be setting ourselves up for a 20 hour drive back and haven’t thought through those consequences. But, away we go.

Much Love,

Hanna
#vanlife#newadventures

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found

8 Weeks, No Husband

Are there any blogs out there not talking about the impact of the corona virus? Is there anyone out there not impacted by it? Here’s what’s been going on with us… About 8 or 9 weeks ago, my husband accepted an offer to do a travel nursing contract in New Jersey. We live in Utah. Covid-19 was just stretching out its grubby little fingers across the country, schools were announcing two week closures, and everything was a ‘maybe’. At the time, we knew traveling was increasingly risky and flights were getting cancelled left and right, but figured I would still be able to visit. I thought for sure, “I’ll see him in two weeks. Ok, maybe 4.” One week ticked by, then another, schools closed until summer break, restaurants and non essential businesses were closing down, should I even go visit a close friend? About 3-4 weeks into his contract, we accepted the fact that I would not be coming out to see him. (You can probably tell by now, I didn’t intend to provide a checklist of productivity habits. It wasn’t until I started posting that I realized that would’ve been a good idea. Next time?)

How do people do it? I’ve been thinking of military families this whole time. 8 weeks has been painful and lonely. 8 weeks of no kisses, no hugs, no hand holding. But, all the while, it’s nothing compared to what other families suffer for months or years. Thankfully, he’s safe at an American hospital – not at risk of being attacked like our military men and women. But, it’s still the most time I have spent away from him and I still don’t like it.

Why did he go? I’ll be honest, but brace yourself – you might find it to be shallow. The money was too good to pass. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m rather lost these days, clomping around in swamp of ideas until something magically clicks. I’m leaving my teaching post and we are getting ready to set off on another year of DRAFTJS_BLOCK_KEY:gg57travel nursing. So if Ivan could earn in 8 weeks what I make in 10 months on a teacher’s salary, well, why not? Oh, keep in mind, we didn’t think it would be 8 weeks apart at the time. What I noticed during the 2 months apart, is the way that time becomes suspended. Days blur together and suddenly I look up and it’s finally Friday. How is it that the mind can compartmentalize like that? Perhaps it’s the routine I created during the work week, but it’s like the clocks function separately from me. The weeks are a blur. I experienced this when I was hospitalized a few years ago. I was in the hospital for 1 week and one moment it was morning, then suddenly it was evening. On the one hand, days are slow and time drags. On the other, it’s like a trance where maybe time moves and maybe it doesn’t. The blur of time makes it less painful. Watch TV and, “Oh, look at that. Time for bed.”

Here’s an actual shot of me falling through time:

Have you experienced this time suspension? If so, I’d love to know what it was like. Comment your experience below! A lot has happened in the last 8 weeks, and wherever Corona decides to go next, at least my husband and I will be together for it.

Much Love,

Hanna

#hescominghome

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found van build

Are you a little lost?

Hi there! My name is Hanna, and lately, I’ve been feeling a bit lost. Quite a bit lost. Can you relate? In fact, getting older hasn’t helped much. I seem to feel more and more like a wanderer.

Right out of high school, I went into college not quite knowing what my major would be, so I blended three of them. Upon graduating, I didn’t know what career field to jump into between teaching, business, or government, so I applied to a Master’s program. Upon being accepted, I bought an extra two years of safety in schooling. It was nice to know, “Here I am. Here’s where I’m going. I’m in school, I’m going to get a degree and for the next 2-4 years, I don’t really have to think about other things.” I graduated with a Master’s degree in French Language and Literature. This is the degree you get when you are considering teaching, and generally teaching at the upper levels. Are you surprised to find out I didn’t end up doing that?

I hesitate to continue this introduction, because I’m feeling a bit vulnerable. Perhaps you as a reader may be thinking, “Oh wow, six years of college? Poor you.” I’m not complaining about my education, I value it! I love the content of the things I studied. I just didn’t know what that would look like as a career trajectory.

After graduating, I worked as a bilingual credit specialist, meaning I made companies pay their late bills – and sometimes I did it in French. Talk about imposter syndrome (we’ll get into that later). One year later, I decided to take the plunge into teaching! I taught Kindergarten, French immersion for 2 years. This is where the real wandering begins. My husband and I decided to take a chance on travel nursing. He would get 13 week contracts at various hospitals, and I would teach online with VIPKid. We missed our home and family, I missed the Kindergartners and stability of the classroom. We traveled for a year and came back. I thought I had been found! Yay! Back in the classroom! This is where I belong.

Then again, maybe not. One more year of Kindergarten, and the first 4 or 5 months I was utterly exhausted, super stressed, and dreaded the day. The days are so long in Kindergarten. I went from complete freedom, going wherever I wanted to go and any time, back into the classroom regimen – Monday through Friday 8-4.

I’m a little embarrassed writing down the changes year over year. How can anyone respect a person who changes her mind every 1-2 years? Am I the only one who is so lost? I love kids and I love teaching, but maybe not for 7 hours a day, five days a week, with a combined total of 50-60 students (AM and PM classes). I look around at my colleagues on our Zoom meetings and wonder, “Am I the only one here who’s kind of enjoying these quiet moments of remote teaching?”

So, here I am on the internet with binoculars on gazing around to see if anyone else can relate. My hope is with this blog, we’ll be able to journey through being lost & being found together.


Much Love,

Hanna