Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I don't know how to do this when I'm happy

Ay. It's been a long time, hasn't it. I took a hiatus from writing, for excellent reasons. I put away the computer and went off and explored with the dog and a boat and bike.
At first I was thinking a lot about the blog, what it was giving me and what it was taking away from me, but then my thoughts wandered into Bent Creek and got completely lost and I went on without them.
I kept on exploring without a worry, day after day, through this new town laced with rivers, rolling with mountains, criss-crossed with trails, chattering with secret spots and breweries and mysteries and all sorts of new and interesting things.
But then I woke up the other morning, just around dawn, and it was raining. My first thought, still dream muddled, was 'It's raining, I get to write today.' 

I know what to do when it rains. Feeling very at home, I wrapped the quilt around myself and fell back asleep, and when I finally woke up and tumbled down the front porch steps into the day, the rain was gone. The leaves mutely brandished the flame colors of autumn but the weather was as sunny and warm as any summer day in Seattle. 

I'm so far from the Northwest now. I have this ridiculous image of myself in my head: two cartoon legs in a green field, upside down, kicking, the rest of me disappeared into the ground, happily entrenched.

Currently, I am sublimely unbalanced.  My room is a mess, I haven't been to one of the box stores yet to pick out the basic things I couldn't take with me- clothes hangers, for instance. Yonton looks at me sometimes when I'm in the kitchen. "I cannot understand where your spectacular messes come from," he says, cheerfully, "so sometimes I like to observe you."

I was sad one night- one night since I've been in Asheville and the circumstances have since reversed themselves. Yonton made me Halva to comfort me, sesame paste mixed with honey, and after that night I was never sad again.
Our friends were missing in Asia for three days. For us at home it meant three tough nights of lying awake, blinking, trying hard not to let our imaginations get the best of us. I thought too much about the look on my parents face when I was lost for two days, and that was New Hampshire, not Tajikistan. Remember my mom throwing up, my dad weeping, those thoughts make me sick.

Each morning I'd dive head first from the bed to the floor to check my phone for any information. On the fourth morning I found this on the screen, from Charles' best friend Sarah: They all been rescued.

That night we had friends over for dinner, we toasted to the paddlers and to us, and then we went out to a climbing movie and the paddlers, with the exception of the injured, went straight back into that river to keep kayaking.

I have mixed feelings about the whole thing.
I've been boating a little bit too. Erich and Yonton and I drove to Tennessee, to a shady playspot on the Pigeon river. It had been two years since I got in my boat, it was crawling with spiders but the first time I went over I rolled right back up, the muscle memory remains. I suppose when your body figures out a way to go from underwater back into atmosphere, it does not readily forget.

So I went in all confident and excited, got window-shaded and rolled four or five times, surfed long enough to remember I have no idea what to do, I got exhausted underwater, finally flushed out and managed not to swim, although when I finally got upright Yonton was right next to me, ready to pick up my pieces. Those two played in the hole all evening. I decided once was enough.
Just a few days ago, Erich and I went down to the ledges on the French Broad and played around in the eddies. It was seventy degrees, pure sunlight, warm water, class two. It was my lunch hour. We wore nothing but life jackets. It was the day we found out that Charles and Cooper were alive, that there would be another day on the river with Cooper singing all thirteen minutes of Alice's Restaurant Massacre. 
On Saturday the dog and I hiked into the Green River Narrows on a steep trail lined with fixed ropes. We climbed up the boulders on the riverbank and took pictures of our friends running Gorilla. It was shit show, yard sale kind of a day.I watched swim after exhausting, painful, helmet cracking swim, rescue after rescue.

"When are you going to run the Green?" Asked Michael. I answered, "The day I am told that I'm going to die tomorrow of a terminal illness, that's the day I'll run the Green."
And yet.

And yet....there's something about the crush of sunlight and white water.
Later on I got a text from my sister, I'm dead serious if u keep kayaking I will kill you myself. No fucking joke lina.

My sister, it turns out, she doesn't fucking joke around.
We've been spending a lot of nights out in the country, my friends and I. It seems like everybody knows somebody who has a cabin with a screened in porch and a fire pit. The nights are growing a little cooler, finally, and we sit around the flames and play guitar, we make up songs, try to remember country songs, re-write lyrics.
We fall asleep on the ground, or on the porch swing, or on the couch. Wake up in the morning, throw our things in the back of a truck and drive out to Saluda, to someone else's cabin in a clearing in the woods. There is coffee and homemade sausage and grits.

I stare at the grits on my plate. I want to be polite and eat them but I don't know what they are.

I tell my sister I'm not kayaking really, mostly spectating. No crying when someone drowns, she says. She's bitter about the whole scene and I understand. She used to paddle, long before any of us did, part of a tight band of kids in a weird world that became a nightmare, a long and painfully twisted story. She'll never kayak again, never want me to either.

So instead, I've started mountain biking, learning the art of high speed self preservation in the form of hopping off the bike just before the obstacle, walking the steep shit, catching my body as it flies forward on the palms of my hands, elbows bent. I right myself, lean my body against a tree and breath hard, heart ready to explode. I bike with the same person every time, Izaac the fire fighter, currently the furloughed fire fighter.
The government shut down and the firefighters are laid off, right in time for fire season. Izaac explained to me how all the shedding leaves are drying up on the ground and becoming tinder.

Once we went on this trail that was so overgrown that we were just pumping through big fields of thorns. I went as fast as I could, which wasn't too fast because the flowers formed a net holding me back, and the thorns completely shredded my arms and legs. I loved the blood and scratches, loved that I'd been torn up by flowers. We found a turtle and a toad on the trail. We ate BBQ and tubed down the French Broad river to the Bywater, soaking our stinging limbs.
I thought I'd get to writing about that day with all the biking and the BBQ, so quintessential Asheville, but the next day I went out to the orchards with Erich and we passed a few peaceful hours picking apples and throwing them for the dog, and I realized I'd better write about that day, too, because obviously it couldn't get any better.
And that's where I got lost, with the writing. I keep waiting for things to slow down a little bit so I could sit down with a cup of coffee and dutifully record them.

But I don't like coffee anymore. I can't explain it, I just woke up one day and it turned my stomach. And the days aren't slowing down, and they're only getting better. 

Here in Asheville, there's no traffic and no rain, no reason to stay inside. 

So we don't.
It's so easy to move here, in such interesting ways, there's no reason to sit still. So we don't. 
In the evening, exhausted and slightly injured and thirsty, we see no reason not to reward ourselves for such a fine day. So we do. Then a heavy sleep, wake up, and do it all again.
And then one morning I woke up to the rain, to cool, wet air rushing in through the windows. And I got to thinking about how I used to write everything down, how moody the light on the Puget Sound was, with grey clouds sitting heavily over slate water, how simple it was to write and write and write in such a place. 

This blog turned five years old a few weeks ago and I was sitting up in a field somewhere, ignoring it. 

I don't know how to do this when it's always sunny. I don't know how to do this when I feel so happy. But I figured I'd better start to learn. 


Melinda said...

I love this. Your happy comes through. So glad you've found your happy.

Erin said...

"I loved the blood and the scratches, loved that I'd been torn up by flowers." <> You go, girl. I totally feel you. XO

Danielle said...

There is so much I want to say in response to this post. Our lives are oh-so-similar. Biking, crashing, kayaking, rolling (occasionally swimming), breweries, friends... you are just able to write so beautifully about it. I can FEEL how happy you are through your words and it makes me smile because it's like a narration of my world, too. This life is good. Thank you for continuing to share your happiness, Melina. Even if it's just on rainy days.

Jess B said...

What beautiful writing and photos. Thanks for reminding me how awesome our slice of the world is. I'm going to quit doing laundry and go outside : ) Also, near death is a perfect time to run the Green. An acquaintance lost ALL of his front teeth on it years ago.

elissa said...

I was hiking through our woods today with kid and baby and thought of you. I'm glad you're happy my friend.

Obviously reading about your boat filled with spiders reminded me of papa mouse.

And I love anna. She would kill you too.

Jody said...

Excellent. Its called happiness and not wanting to miss a precious moment of life. We'll be here to read when you write here and there between living fully. Enjoy life. My blog has suffered since we moved back to the coast. It got dust and cobwebs but I eventually came back to it. I print each year for my kids in a book so it was time. And I am with your sista.....mtb your heart out.

Lynn said...

I'm am so glad Asheville is working out for you. It's a great place and if I were 30 years younger, I'd live there, too.
I missed your blog and was happy to see this latest post. Looks like every day is an adventure for you...are you still working? Just wondering how you bankroll your lifestyle...need some lessons on this myself!

SmithShack71 said...

You know more than you think you do.


Bethany Davidson-Widby said...

xoxo always

Natalie Burke said...

Good for you Melina, live it up!!

Emily said...

So glad you are happy. So glad you are in such a lifegiving place for you.

A Girl Without A Name said...

I'm just so in love with your blog and now even more that you've moved to Asheville. I love love love hearing about all the new southern things you're encountering (the grits comment made me laugh for a straight five minutes) and hearing about all your adventures. I'm so happy your finding your happiness here and keep blogging girl, keep blogging.

Sian said...

I don't care how long it take you to write Im just happy when you do. I love hearing about it all. The fact that you are happy and too busy to write is a good thing. You'll figure it out xxxxx

cindy said...



Heather Goodell said...

So glad that you are happy and enjoying your new home!

Rhett said...

I loved this post and felt transported back home. So glad you're having fun! Oh, and...give the grits a chance, maybe with sharp cheese and fresh cracked pepper. Yum!

Lori Delgado said...

I am so excited to hear of your travels and experiences in Asheville! I have missed your writing. Your blog is part of the sunshine in my week of teaching unruly 8th graders parallel structure and combining like terms. I'm glad to think you will be back with more soon!!

Rachel @ Existation said...

I've read a few posts on different blogs lately about how the people who write them don't know how to blog as they usually do now that they're happy. Happiness is taking the blogging community by storm! Haha. Go figure. I really enjoyed this, though; seems the sunshine hasn't taken away your ability to write beautifully =] Glad Asheville (which I just accidentally wrote as "Asseville" for some reason!) is treating you so well!

colleen said...

I like how Yonton understands your mess...where I never did. Actually I often did ponder how one person who really doesn't own THAT much somehow manages to create such chaos at every turn. I'm glad you're happier there, things have taken a turn for the pretty f-ing good here too. Catch up soon? Love, Your long lost roommate, and her needy ass cat.

Rachel Ruth said...

You're back! Hooray!