Monday, October 24, 2016

Let My Kelsey Go Surfing

When I picked Giselle up from Denver International Airport I immediately poured my thoughts out to her about my ability to go anywhere, because in that moment (and these moments, still) my whole life is packed in my car.
That's not really true, because my whole life is everywhere I've been. It's in a brewery in Flagstaff, it's at table 40 at The Kitchen - Denver, it's in the bottom of several wine bottles and it's in my blood I've (we've all) left behind in Joshua Tree. 

Giselle and I talked quite a bit about self-sabotage; the idea of it and if that's what I was doing to myself by entertaining the thought of not moving to Flagstaff. The thought of what if I just kept driving. I'll save you all the beatnik literature approach of consciousness that I fear I'm going to end up writing and tell you that I saw the life I was going to live in Flagstaff. It's not a bad life, it's an incredible one. Life in Flagstaff is everything it should be: it's life in a small mountain town. The running is incredible and the climbing is world-class. It's a life that I've missed and I thought I wanted to get back to. But it's a life I know. And what about the hundreds of lives that I don't know? I feel as though I have to go live those. Moving to Flagstaff felt like a glass ceiling and a limestone box. 

We talked about the life philosophy that is commonly found in writers. The idea that your life is a story, your story, and you are writing it as both the author and the main character. So far I have a pretty cool story, but if I were to pen fiction with Kelsey Elizabeth Gray as my protagonist, would I have her move back to Flagstaff? 

No. Absolutely not. Because deep down in her chest, below and behind her heart but in front of her spine, there's this urge to go. So I made her go.

Giselle and I packed so much into those 11 days that I have a hard time believing it is only 24 October. We ran 20 miles through the mountains in Crested Butte, climbed in Ouray, headed over to Moab for a few days where we allowed ourselves to create in between the runs and climbs and al dente tortellini. We bushwhacked the San Francisco Peaks traverse, all six peaks(!), in eight hours and leaned on each other during both mental and physical lows. We talked about how much we hate donuts and then ate donuts. I have never laughed so hard in my life, and she helped my heart heal when a piece of it broke off between Moab and Flagstaff. 

I said I was going to Washington and now I'm not, because I don't want to anymore and I don't have to. I've had a few people text or Facebook message me and ask if I'm "trying to find [myself] on a deeper level" and I hate that. I fucking hate that, because I'm not. I'm not searching for anything, and I know myself better than anyone. I'm not searching for answers, because I don't have any questions. 
I don't have anything to find, but I do have things to see and things to do, and I want to do it now. Right now. I don't want to wait until I can afford a plane ticket and a rental car and budget my meals dining out. I like to sleep in my car (or a Nemo tent), rely on my Jet Boil for a real meal and wake up with the sun. 
Most people thought I was moving to Washington via my Facebook post, even though that's not what it said at all. But people think that because they read without listening and they "listen" while talking over me. And I'm really sick of that. I am so sick of it that I've given up on telling my mother any sort of plan or idea I have. I am so sick of it that this is going to be my last blog post for a long time. Someone I used to be friends with, but haven't talked to in a long time (you know, those people, whose lives are so incredibly different from yours now that you cannot imagine you had one thing in common at any point) asked me "Where do you want to end up?" and that made me feel sick. The question itself suggests that the life that I live, that I love to live, has to end at some point and I will 'settle down', as they call it. And I don't care for that term, either. People that have a spouse and children and the "white picket fence", I think, are living the life that they want to live. And I think that's pretty rad. I wonder why people can't listen to my stories about a rock climb or run up to a summit the way they can listen and laugh with/to stories about a child asking an irrelevant question. Because that time we reached the summit with the prayer flags at 11:11 was just as special as the time a kid took a step. The time Giselle accidentally said "That scared the Daylight Savings out of me" is just as funny as a child babbling nonsense. That time we stared at the stars in Joshua Tree, bodies tired and hands bloody from climbs, listened to two guitars softly strumming together and felt the warm breeze wrap itself around our skin; that time is just as special as watching your child sleep. And that question of "If you could live on any star, which star would it be?" is much more relevant than "What about health insurance? What about your 401k? Where will you live? How much money do you have?"

Most people that I have met in the past two weeks don't ask those questions. They encourage me, and I need it sometimes. Sometimes a lot of times. They give me suggestions on what to see and when to go, and the introductions are just as genuine as the hugs goodbye. I can't imagine living a life more full than the one I am now.

As for now, I'm about to head over to the Marin Headlands, because that's where this all started, so many years ago. But we all know that. 

And then I'm going to go wherever I want. There's a handful of incredible people that have their arms open in Ventura county. And although I spent most of my 28 years living on a lake, I don't know how to surf. 
...For long.

[To Hannah, my cousin: Your comment on my Facebook post reads "As long as you (1) still come back to Michigan once in a while and (2) you're happy wherever you are in that moment." brought me to tears, and I wanted to quite publicly thank you. It is one of the most important things anyone has ever said to me. I want to give you a bone-crushing hug for it.]

Perhaps I'll write again tomorrow. Perhaps I'll die tomorrow. Or perhaps you will all read my book,  in which I will likely *not* rip off Yvon Chouinard's title. ;)


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