Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Life Uncommon

I was in the passenger seat. We were all playing songs for each other.  Rum melted easily into hot chocolate which melted quickly into my bloodstream. We were driving away from the mountain in the evening, one of those warm car rides where every muscle is tired and every bone is tired and your brain stops humming long enough for you to realize that every dream you had as a kid is happening.

You can't feel this good unless you earn it. Unless you wake up so early it hurts.

You must have the proper tires, so you can disappear from the city in the storm before the real chaos ensues. When the morning light is still blue.

To every worthwhile adventure, there is some degree of fear. That blissful drive home is earned only by the moment when you drop into a trail and realize you shouldn't be on it. On this day in the snow, I felt that familiar feeling of being on the river, confronted with a rapid I don't think I should run. I shouldn't be here. This is dangerous. This was a mistake. Whoever brought me here is going to die.

But then...

But then, when I look around and realize that the powder will protect your fall, and Chris is smiling at me, saying "We apologize!" and then floating away, especially when I remove my ego and my neurosis and realize it's not actually that bad, I'm not under water, after all.

Every day I spend paddling, incidently the happiest days of my life, had this one crystalized moment of fear. Where I close my eyes in panic, think  how did I get here. How did I end up here, again? What did I do wrong?

Only now am I beginning to understand myself. I work hard to be here. I work hard to find these moments when every tissue is engaged and every synapse is focused and I'm alert with adrenaline and anger. When it's too deep, too steep, there are too many fucking trees, my skis are buried and lost and everyone is waiting for me.

I swear to God it's the only way I can learn anything.

But here's the difference between skiing and paddling. In skiing, you can breathe. As long as you remember to, you can breathe. Just try and keep warm.

And yeah, the pain in my feet from the last adventure made every movement a trial. I skied miserably. But who gives a shit? I mean that. Who gives a shit. Not them:

Which is exactly why I am the luckiest son of a bitch on the planet. 

(Except not that lucky, because the menu at Steven's does not include Chicken in a Basket. No mother fucking Chicken in a Basket. That's the only reason I skied from years 8-16 was to eat chicken strips at the lodge. Come on, North West, with all your vertical grade, with all your "pow", what is going on here? Why are you missing this most important thing. Thank God I'm old enough to drink beer.  Even if most of the service industry in Washington State doesn't believe me.) 

That day at Stephens, while Seattle buckled and broke under three inches of snow, Chris, Andrew, Daniil and I froze and thawed, froze and thawed. Froze under the winds of the lift and thawed as the turns brought us back down. 

And it got a little easier, when I realized halfway through the day that I didn't have to follow anybody. Unlike every other sport, I could just go go it alone. Inbounds, it all ends at the same place.

  And you know what, boys, we'll always have the chairlift.

Riding lifts is decadent. It's cold and it's all play.

And then the ride home.

You remember what it feels like because you've been there before. You sink deeper into the warm seat, blood returning to your fingertips, forehead against the cold glass of the window. Andrew is playing me Dylan songs and I'm playing Andrew The Weary Kind. You think, I have absolutely no interest in the world except for things that make me feel exactly like this. We stopped somewhere for what- coffee, milkshakes, water.  I leaned towards the mirror in the bathroom and studied my wind-burned reflection.

Back on the road, I closed my eyes and let the whole day wash over me like a pleasant memory, but one that keeps on recording as soon as I open my eyes. The car is this bubble of music and safety from the harsh cold and the snow and the road, and I'm so tired I might be hallucinating, unless I'm really lucky and it's all real. 

"then he hears you speak

And says, "How does it feel

To be such a freak ?"

And you say, "Impossible"
- Bob Dylan


Cassandra said...

WINNER! First comment. Boo-yah. Unless the first guy hasn't been moderated yet.. Shit.

Anyways. This post gave me chills. I related to every single word. I could feel it.


Surndr said...

Seriously you capture in words the emotions I can't describe to those I love. Thank you, thank you, thank you! ...random idea, if you ever make a book out of all your blog post's I'll buy it! You captured omg you captured it all :)

Surndr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ren said...

Love it!! :)