Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Going up and up and up and over the snowy Rockies. Down into the flat, empty, boring plains of eastern Colorado and Kansas. Kansas goes on forever. Missouri does, too. Grass, silos, the occasional oil well. There goes the St. Louis arch. Now southern Illinois and suddenly there are trees instead of grass. Indiana and small towns.

Kentucky and the road gets narrower, closer to the creek, the hillsides getting steeper. Bluegrass, bourbon, Daniel Boone, Appalachian Kentucky. We tucked our tent into the tent city behind Miguel's and climbed while hiding from thunderstorms. I saw my first funnel cloud forming in the sky, a weird sense of clouds going both ways at once before my brain suddenly thought of Toto and flying cows. The steep climbing in Red River Gorge is outstanding, as is the community. I had my personal best day of climbing, completely relaxed and not attached to anything other than my fingers and toes on the rock.

Moving on. I felt like I was going faster, time was speeding up, everything was more intense the farther east I went. Is that always true? The green of western Virginia (not West Virginia) was unsettling after two months in beige and brown. I recognized this landscape as familiar and pondered why it didn't feel that way. North Carolina and holy heaven so many people. How can it be so crowded here? Where are stillness and silence? Why is everything happening so fast, yet nothing is happening? Speeding up through Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey.

And now: New York State. Tompkins County. City of Ithaca.

I sit at a desk in return for money. I cook on a stove and always have a shower at my disposal. I make plans more than 24 hours in advance. I don't wear hiking boots.

I used to live like this. This used to be my normal, so part of me remembers this. I know the streets of Ithaca like the back of my hand. I'm sitting in the same cubicle in the same office (I even found some old tea I'd left in a drawer). I take the same shortcuts, shop in the same grocery store, hang out with the same people. I've slipped right back through a door that I'd thought I'd slammed shut, padlocked, bolted three times, and nailed shut with boards. It's as if I'd stayed at home for just a few days due to a nasty case of the flu, then reappeared in society. Occasionally I get a weird sense of deja vu when something is slightly different. But everything is pretty much the same.

Except I'm different. I stumble when anyone asks if and how I've changed. (Most people, though, haven't asked much about my experiences--I look the same, talk the same, even dress in my old clothes, so what could be different?). Well, of course I'm different. With every second of the minute, I, and you, and every one in this world, are changing. I'm not prepared to elaborate on my changes from the past year in a public way. I've been handed some pretty huge life lessons and perspectives, and I need to take some time to myself to make sure they stick around.  I'm sure I'll write again, at some point, when I have a better idea of what I want to say (and what I want to do with this blog in the future).

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