I’m in Bellingham Washington, sitting on our little red sofa in our little pink flamingo splashed travel trailer drinking a glass of Columbia Valley red and writing to you. I just got back from walking the dogs. It’s ten after nine, and the sun is just about, but not quite, settled. The days here are so long, yet they go so fast. On our walk we saw a mule deer, a brown bunny, too many barking dogs not on leashes, The Puget Sound across rolling green hills, and houses with lawns I had actual waking dreams about while putting on foot in front of the other ~ Dream: Me with notebook on screaming green hill ~ scribbling just found clarity while soaking in the setting sun. Dream: Me rolling body down same grassy hill, same golden ambrosial light ~ head says, “am I too old for that?” Not a worry related to what others may think, but to actual physical harm related to my aging anatomy. This is the first time I’ve ever had a thought like this. So many firsts in so little time.
Speaking of aging anatomy, yesterday I rode what I would consider a deadly mountain bike trail. After 800 feet of pedaling uphill in full sun, my quadriceps and lungs are singing to me a sinister song. I’m breathing like I have only 1/2 a lung. My sweet, patient, concerned, asthmatic, yet he is showing no signs of struggle, pro-mountain-biker-boyfriend asks without having to pause for breath, “are you sure you don’t have asthma?” I have no energy to fight, but I manage a stare that says, “I will kill you if you keep asking open ended questions!” ( A simple yes or no wouldn’t suffice.) Maybe I actually said something like that, memory is fallible. Oh yeah, I remember now, I did ask, “what’s the altitude !?” Cause a few days ago, we were at eight thousand feet, and we rode uphill, and I felt just like this. Near-death. At least I think it was a few days ago, maybe it was last week, maybe longer, anyhow, who cares? My love rides ahead and yells back, “we’re below sea level, baby!” Awesome. I make it to the top without needing supplemental oxygen, and am then taken on a ‘beginner’s trail” called Unemployment Line. I called it bullshit. All downhill with little uphill ramps for jumping. Twisty. Singletrack. Trees popping out of the earth threatening to punch me in the face. I’m having a sick experience verging on insanity, because I’m having some version of fun that could very well lead to a massive brain bleed and end the aspect of god that is me. Lover boy leads me around the bends and up the hills and down the hills, calling back, “look at me … go as slow as you need to, look at my back wheel…” and he is amazing and sexy and he is some fresh from the heavens boyfriend. He is an expert. He saves my life. I love him. We finish Bullshit and then do a similar trail called The Pigs of which there are three, but we ride just one. Yes, I am game for another trail. I don’t actually have a choice cause what goes up must come down it seems. As we come to the end of pig number one, we are treated to a sweet soft-angled hill flooded with white daises and purple and pink flowers shaped like tiny bells. I am something beyond happy. I am some emotion I have no name for.
Speaking of saving lives, the other morning I was cooking breakfast. Specifically eggs. I had just cooked his bacon and my chicken-apple sausage which stayed hot under tin-foil wraps. Cooking space is limited. Nowadays all space is limited, except the space outdoors. I’m getting super-savvy at this dirt-bagging stuff. ( I will define “dirt bag” as I understand it at the end of this post. If I remember.) We were having silent time. In order to keep some semblance of self and sanity after being in each other’s faces 24-7 for god knows how many days on this particular day, we have, when things get tense, ( after lots and lots of discussion…) instituted quiet time. A reinterpreted version of noble speech. We don’t talk to each other unless the content of our communication is all of the following : Necessary, kind, and true. This was my idea. This trip is shining a very bright light on my control issues. Major Olympic worthy control issues. If being controlling were a sport, I’d be a gold medalist. Wow. Anyhow, as I’m moving the spatula around the pan, watching the yellow liquid change into something more solid, I have a profound insight. Ready? Maybe I don’t know him. My boyfriend. Maybe my thoughts about him aren’t true. Maybe he’s a mystery. Maybe he’s just like me, completely unknown. In addition to the sound of the spatula scraping the bottom of the pan, I now hear a searing that seems to be coming from behind me. Turning my body around, I see my mystery man stretching his neck back and dropping his head full of long wavy locks into my lit Jesus candle that’s sitting in the windowsill behind the same little red couch I’m sitting on now. I see smoke coming from his head. I drop the spatula and pounce on him just as he starts to pull his head up. My hands fly to the back of his head. I hold no thoughts. I am stealthy action. Stealthy action furiously pats his head with hands. Stealthy action opens two windows. Stealthy action can see he’s okay, his singed hair now in these hands and on the floor. Stealthy action picks up the black plastic spatula and flips the intended to be scrambled, but now omelet style sans guts eggs. Still edible. And then “I” return, and I start to laugh hysterically. I keep repeating to myself, Dogen’s, “Practice the way as if saving your head from fire!” These are moments I won’t forget, though I can’t yet tease out words to convey meaning.
My mystery man called me a superhero after I saved his life. My mystery man also calls me a dirtbag. He thinks I’m sexy. Okay, I might be a dirtbag because: I have stopped depending on hygiene for my happiness. Showers happen when they happen. And when they happen, I am treated to the still so startling, I have to call out to Gene to “come look at this!!!” brown water puddling around my feet. The brown water is created by the dirt on my body and in my hair. This fact alone may literally make me a dirtbag. I don’t blow-dry my hair on those rare days it gets washed. I actually like it more. It looks beachy and wind blown. I always have dirt under my fingernails. I may or may not have MRSA on my right fuck-you finger. I can’t find an urgent care that will take my insurance. I may or may not still have my right fuck-you finger when I return to Phoenix. And my feet… oh, god … I keep on intending a pedicure. I asked Gene yesterday if dirt bags get pedicures and he looked confused. After half-a-moment of thought, he mustered a yes, but I think it was because he’s programmed to make me happy. Oh, and I’ve taken to wearing a trucker cap. I like it, and Gene thinks it’s sexy too.
Here’s an Urban Dictionary definition of dirtbag: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=dirtbag
It’s been two and a half weeks since we left Phoenix for our summer adventure to British Columbia. I have no sense of where I am in terms of anywhere but here. I can’t tell you without thinking hard and long where we were three days ago, let alone where we may have been last week. We’re rambling along. Our plans are like salty chocolate the day before Aunt Flow comes to town. Here one moment and then gone the next.
I am eerily content.
I’ve visited Nevada, Utah, California, Oregon, and now Washington. I’ve experienced terror, anger, frustration, confusion, love, bliss, joy, gratitude, heartache, un-name-ables, equanimity, and nothing. I’ve eaten Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Junk, and garden variety health food at all hours. I’ve learned how to relax in situations I once thought intolerable. I have stayed despite wanting to run so many times since leaving. I feel like I have been gone forever. I have turned away from , and then faced, snuggled with and made some sort of peace-pact with the scariest places inside of me. Because these places have been called up. Because these circumstances are the perfect circumstances for my scary stuff to arise. The last time I felt this way, I ran back to Arizona from California to make it go away. I wasn’t ready to be with myself as shaky ungrounded uncertainty. Reality. Finally I’ve settled into this life. Here. On the road. I get excited whenever we pull up to our new space. I love it whether it’s a forested rest stop in coastal Oregon, a parking lot full of garbage in Tonopah, Nevada just up the road from Area 51, or a KOA with full hook-ups, hot showers, a laundromat, and a nature trail in Mount St. Helens, Wa. We stay a day or two and then I’m done. I’m ready to go. Next? I’m learning to float. I’m tethered to me. I am settling in to being unsettled.