Twenty Six : Pleasantly Distracted

I don’t feel guilty anymore. I’m not sure when that changed, honestly, but it did. I don’t feel guilty that I talked to the cute girl, or that I gave her my number, or flirted with her. I don’t feel guilty at all. I smiled today, and everyone knew why.

It’s strange how I don’t feel guilty, and the less I feel guilty the less I feel tied to Grace. Caught somewhere between hope and hopeless romanticism. It’s strange how life can throw you so many curve balls, how your plans and ideas and direction can change completely in an instant – just because of something said, an action taken, a person met. It’s strange that just a month ago I was so dead set on doing the PCT but am now thinking of staying in Portland for an extra year, saving more money, seeing what happens. I’m thinking about my career, my resume.

The Salmonberry Corridor, I tell myself, that’s what you should do this summer to tide you over. Hike all the small trails you can for an extra year. See what happens, see how far you can get now that you’re finally on your own, an adult. Make more money, set yourself up, make more friends. Enjoy simply existing for a while now that the turmoil of constantly trying to flee is over.

Either way saving money is a must. To stay in Portland I’ll need money to find a new place to live in nine months. To leave for the PCT will require the same actions in twelve months.

For now I raise my glass of water and bowl of ramen and propose a toast.

To being broke, alone, and happy.

Twenty Five : For _ _ _

Today will be different
I won’t think about you
I won’t make decisions based on how it would effect you, because you no longer effect me

you are no longer a part of my life, and I am no longer a part of yours.

Today I will smile without you, and laugh, and be.
I will exist without you.
I will thrive.
I will keep calm and carry on without you.
I will be fine. Without you.
I will rise on my own. I will stand on my own two feet. I will do what needs to be done.
I will be happy without you.

Today will be different.
Today I will be without you.

—————————–12 hours later——————————————————

Today I was without you.
Today was exactly the same.
I’m happy either way.
I do what needs to be done.
I rose, and stood on my own two feet and fell just the same as I ever did.
I clawed with my hands until my finger nails bled.
Inky red syrup in the dirt and the muck.
Then, with my stubborn pride, I rose again to face the fire, the wind, the rain.

Today I thrived in agony, in fear, in panic, stress.
Today I was without you, and today I was fine.
Today I existed without you, and you didn’t exist in my world at all.

Today I laughed, and smiled, and danced.
Today I danced without you.

Today

Today, I was only a part of my world. And the sun was blue, and the skies were red.
Today my life was color.
There was color in my world, without you.

Today was exactly the same.
Today I lived my life again, without you.

Twenty Four : Bake(r/d)

I get off work an hour late and scan my finger to clock out as soon as the floor is swept. I giggle to myself as I walk out the door – what the fuck happened today? Five thousand two hundred loaves, give or take, passed me by in eight hours, so fast I could hardly keep my mind from spinning helplessly out of control. The key slides into the ignition and I back out of the parking space and throw it into drive. Six and a half miles and forty five minutes later I finally get home. Squid is happy to see me. She jumps and whines and swings her tail dangerously about as she dances around me and nips at my pant leg as if to say “give me attention, dick”.

She’s left me presents in the living room and sits looking guilty as I pick up the three large piles of shit she’s left for me on the floor.

Up the stairs I go, down the hall and into my room expecting the worst but find that she’s only tipped over my laundry basket and strewn the dirty rags across the floor – easy to pick up.

I sit down at the computer and she growls, only slightly playfully, ball in her mouth. I snatch the ball from her and throw it out the door and down the hall, quickly grabbing my glass pipe and jar of weed. A long day calls for a high night. Flick, flick, flick and the orange Bic spits fire into the bowl, I inhale, hold, and exhale. I can feel my muscles relax, finally. I write the above lines and read them over, taking another hit. I think about all the things I want to write. Love letters to Grace, the nitty gritty details about my day, the cute girl who had a working interview – the cute girl I hope gets hired so I can say her name when she comes into work, whom I’d like to get to know. I think about Grace again, and feel guilty for wanting to get close to another girl. I’m single, I shouldn’t feel guilty. I’m such a piece of shit though. Back and forth I fight myself internally. Inhale, hold, exhale. Who cares? Why does it matter? I curse myself again for being constantly conflicted, the thousandth time I’ve put a curse on myself in over twenty seven years.

I think about getting a new job – but what’s the point when I’m going going gone in fourteen months.

Here’s to the future. Fire, inhale, hold, life.

Twenty Three : Slide

Mount Hood rose up before us in the distance and early morning light. Blue sky with great white sheets of cloud moving lazily along. The car hummed along, Squirrel sitting in the passenger seat playing disc jockey with my phone while I gripped the wheel loosely and steered us onward. Two days before it was decided that we would make the great pilgrimage to Timberline lodge, snow gear and boards in hand, to potentially hurt ourselves. Both of us not quite beginner, not quite intermediate riders, Squirrel riding the lines, carving more often, but me more willing to take risks and push my limits, even if my carving skills are still fairly undeveloped. By nine in the morning we were sliding sideways into a parking spot parallel to a large snow bank that had yet been prepared for parking. Apparently the lodge staff had not expected such a large turnout – it was only the first Saturday after the first good snow of the year, packing three feet of fresh powder on what had been an almost bare mountain when I was there last on New Years Eve.

After ensuring I hadn’t hit the truck ahead of me and biting my lip as another Subaru came sliding, brakes locked as mine had been, into the space behind me, but suddenly gaining traction on a bare spot and safely jumping to a stop several feet behind me, Squirrel and I put on our boots, readied helmets and goggles and face covers, snatched our boards from the back of the car and hiked up to the lodge.

It felt good to slide my feet into the bindings and feel the familiar glide of snow beneath the board I was now attached and one with. I steadied myself and looked back at Squirrel who nodded and gave a gloved thumbs up. I hopped and twisted to position my left foot forward and pushed my weight down, my board slid down the mountain and I went with it.

Toe to heel, toe to heel, slide, slow, fast, go this way, now that, wind and fall. Get up, brush off the snow, again, and again, and again. We rode to the lowest lifts, then half way up the mountain, just to glide a few hundred feet and catch a lift even higher yet. Back down, back up, through The Bonezone again and again, a thin, long, winding canyon down the mountain that is, even with snow, sided by rocks and trees jutting out, waiting for you to make a mistake. It’s my favorite run.

And then, the children. We decide, after I realize that my left knee is throbbing and sore and Squirrel decides that his ass has been a cushion for his falls long enough, that we will take the Bonezone one final time, and then a nother final time. On that last of final times we started strong, catching air, carving just within the inner section of the pipe, and then, from atop the ridge on the right, a child on skiis came sliding down, slowly, right into my path. My options, tank the little bastard and teach him an extremely painful lesson in watching out for traffic, or pull my board in front of me, digging my heals into the snow, and falling down, stopping abruptly with the possibility of being plowed over by a boarder or skiier from behind. I choose to fall, not wanting to deal with parents, who are, generally speaking, worse than the little shits they raise.

Sometimes it feels good to fall.

Sometimes it doesn’t. This was not a good fall.

The speed I was traveling caught up to me, instead of falling backward, I pivoted, shot forward, leaned to the side and caught my right elbow in the snow. I rolled farther still and caught a glimpse of the idiot child, completely oblivious, slowly making his way farther down the canyon. My board catches at one end, I can’t tell at this point if it’s forward or backward, up is glimpses of white dust and blue sky, down is snow, cold and everywhere. Tumble, flip, roll, eat snow and repeat, I lose count after three or maybe four – a sign I wasn’t doing a good job at keeping count in the first place.

Finally, stopped, I sit up and push myself up right, balance, and find Squirrel coming to a stop next to me, taking his time down the slope to pick jumps and ride the edges of the pipe. He gives a thumbs up, I nod and give one back. Down the mountain we go.