Some thoughts on living

Today my doppelganger became a wife.

Back during school days in Mill Valley, Loren and I used to confuse people unwittingly. From far off they would see me and yell, “Loren!” We even started at the same time working at my current company and my boss would accidentally sometimes call her by my name and vice-versa. My favorite Loren and AZ moments involved such antics as chasing a fire truck and ambulance in the neighborhood on foot to see what the ruckus was all about one evening. That coupled with all the laughs and deep heart to hearts. Today, the classic moment of the wedding involved the minister asking her, “Loren, do you take Shawn as your lawfully wedded wife?” And in that full-bellied chuckle of hers, she and I both laughed.

I am in a constant project of better ways to simplify and organize my living space and have been like this since I was young enough to move furniture. Tonight, all I moved were four thick photo albums, which truly encapsulate the past eight years of my life (and even some further back). As I tucked each of the albums into their new homes, I cracked them open and loved the faces smiling out at me. There is such richness and beauty in seeing and knowing in the “now” but being able to go back to the “then.”

This afternoon before the wedding, I meandered into downtown San Rafael and happened upon the Italian Street Painting Festival. Free to the public, several street blocks have been cordoned off with bodies sprawled all over the hot black pavement. Boxes of chalks and pastels lined the periphery of the squares commissioned by companies and local artists as their plots of land for two whole days. Monday morning a truck will come wash away all the carefully constructed pieces of chalk art, all the color running into one. It was remarkable to see the execution and skill etched into something commonplace like the street. Replicas of Mucha, Vermeer, and La Gioconda shimmered off of the ground in their chalky residue. While I fully appreciated the finished pieces, I kept finding my favorite drawings to photograph were those in process- a fully shaded three-dimensional eye belonging to a roughly outlined canvas; fish swimming with their mouths open in an O of surprise swimming in the black untouched background.

Some of the photos from the album: Mindy and I riding the bronze boar statue at a winery in Napa; Katy and I in college fully scarved against the wind in Boston; Pam holding Lucy at her 30th birthday brunch; Barb and I squeezing out gigantic smiles our first year in MV; Mai Mai and I posing in the ceramic shell at the Monterey aquarium; Loren and I staring down the camera with our broad, mischevous smiles… The list goes on. I wouldn’t trade any of these people and the breadth of being they have brought into my life.

The journey, the process fills in the gaps of our lives, even as they can seem blank gestures held against the faint white chalk outline of the overall picture. Thanks be to our Creator who sees us and knows us well enough to know that we need each other to make the journey. That and we need those mistakes of semantics or movement that draw the laugh from deep within until the guffaw emerges. Think of it as the cross-hatching of texture into what could be a flat painting. Life with texture is anything but normal, but the fodder it gifts is irreplaceable.

(Leave a comment if you would like to see the chalk art I photographed today and I will upload them).


  1. I’d also like to see the pics of the chalk drawings and also any of the wedding if you have them. I miss all that I left behind in Marin. I miss getting to see chalk drawings and weddings and those kinds of things. I like your blog so much – thanks for doing it for us all.

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