So, apparently it’s been six months since I last wrote in here. That’s both surprising and not. Surprising, because I’m still finding it hard to believe that we’re in June already, not surprising because I have tried to write multiple times and have found it too complicated to continue. (As evidenced by the fact that I rewrote those last five words about eight times, even just now.)
However, following my friend A’s conclusion that “Done is better than perfect,” I’m just going to try to brain-dump some.
It was a hard winter. Meteorologically, it seemed to go on forever – I only just put away my winter sweaters last weekend, and that was in despite of the forecast calling for highs in the low 60s later this week. Politically, it was…challenging. Psychologically/emotionally, it was hard – my grandfather died in early October. Physically, it was discouraging, and continues to be – seems like every time I think I’m finally moving forward, past the injuries of the past couple of years, I’ll retwist my ankle stepping on ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ON A FLAT TRAIL, or twist my knee on a green slope wipeout while learning to ski, or do something wonky to my wrist while climbing in Leavenworth. I’m struggling with the idea that this is the new normal for me – having to be careful about one joint or another, and constantly having to gauge whether the ache/pain I feel is enough to justify holding off on physical activity for x amount of time more, or if I should just work through it. Because the other problem is that since I have been a lot less generally physically active in the last eight months than I would otherwise have been, I am less fit than I’ve been in years, and it’s getting me down.
Three weeks ago, two men were killed and another was badly injured at the Hollywood Transit Center here in Portland. They had stepped in to try to stop a guy who was shouting racial/religious/ethnic hate speech at two teenage girls, one wearing a hijab, the other black. The guy turned and stabbed/slashed at the three men, fatally wounding two of them. The two men who died were Ricky Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namki Meche. Mr. Best was a father of four and a Veteran; Mr. Meche was a fellow Reedie, freshly graduated and out to save the world. (Among his last words, apparently, were “Tell everyone on this train that I love them.”) The man who survived, Micah Fletcher, is a PSU student and poet.
I started crying when I happened to go through the transit center a couple of days ago for an unrelated errand and saw all the memorials. I don’t have a coherent narrative for what I (along with all of Portland) am trying to process. There’s the grief for the victims and their families, swallowed up in an instant by loss that should not have had this place in their lives. There’s sorrow and heartache for the girls, who did not deserve to be targets in the first place and now have the additional psychological burden of the consequences. There is vertigo, of sorts, a reeling incomprehension. (How could the attacker have done this, any of this? Reading the narratives, seeing the warning signs in his past actions and avowed beliefs, brings me no closer to comprehension.) There is second-guessing. (What if I had been there and been the one to step in? Would he have attacked a woman? What if the people who’d stepped in had found a different way to intervene – would he still have attacked? What else am I missing about the city that I love and call home?) And there’s fear: fear for what this will mean for the future. Fear that this will mean that people – that *I* – won’t act as Best, Meche, and Fletcher did when it is next needed, fear that fear will keep me and others from trying to save the world in the small ways that are all that 98% of us will ever have the opportunity to effect.
All that being said, the winter wasn’t all bad, and things are getting better.
I am running again, and am to the point where a 6-mile run doesn’t leave me aching physically, apart from when I’m dumb and tense my neck up on uphills and therefore give myself a killer tension headache. I’m not speedy by any means – averaging 11-ish-minute miles – but hey, I never really was, and the point is that I’m doing it.
A group of friends and I went to Leavenworth over Memorial Day weekend, and had a lot of fun. Four of the five of us climb pretty regularly (B, E, T, and me), and the other (P) was able to go for a few training runs for his ridiculously long races later in the year (a 100-miler? really?), and to read a book and occasionally join us on a problem the rest of the time. It was damn hot, and the KOA where we stayed was [unsurprisingly] packed, but it was wonderful to have access to its facilities – showers, bathrooms, etc – and the heat just made us appreciate air conditioning and cold beers all the more. The group decided to go to work on Drugstore Cowboy right out of the gate, which made me grumpy at the time, because I was sure that I wasn’t going to be able to do it so soon, and was worried that I would build up a mental block about it that would mean I wouldn’t get it at all. Instead, I got it on about my third try – my first-ever V3 outdoors! Hooray!
Add to that a V1 traverse problem (Cube Traverse) and a V2 heel hook problem (Scram), neither of which I got but both of which I felt powerful and skilled on, and I am pretty content with the weekend.
Also, I have a new crash pad. It’s awesome. It has a star on it.
I did learn to ski over the winter – took advantage of Mt. Hood Meadows’ highly-recommended-by-me adult beginner ski lesson package. ((2-hour group lesson + equipment rentals + limited lift ticket) x 3 = $130!!!) I had skied perhaps twice before in my life, most recently during my freshman year at Reed (I think), and hadn’t ever really understood why people enjoyed it so much. I took the lessons this winter because during the group trip to Bend this year, which revolved around snow sports for the first time since I’ve been participating, I got sad that I couldn’t partake in the social aspect of downhill skiing. I decided to fix that, and it turns out that actually getting lessons, so that I can do turns and all that, instead of just wedging slooooowly down the mountain for hours, makes it a lot more fun!
So now, thanks to good luck at the Next Adventure half-off-the-bargain-basement weekend and even more good luck at a random garage sale a couple of weeks ago, I own a solid beginner ski set (well, I still need to get poles), and am actually looking forward to skiing next winter. In the meantime, I’ve got a couple of camping trips planned, some more climbing outside, and just general activity.
Also, I’m going to France in the autumn, my first trip outside the US since getting back here in 2013. I’m excited to go, excited to speak French again and eat all the bread, cheese, wine, and pastries my stomach can take, excited to revive a part of me – the world traveler/expat – that has been neglected these past few years.