4/2/15 I Want to Fall in Love

Looking out across that landscape she felt everything she’d left behind. The community she’d been a part of. How exciting everyday had been. How she could walk down the street in L.A. and meet a dozen different artists on one block. And that wasn’t all. She’d fallen in love for the first time there and though it hadn’t lasted long she had left those memories behind also–even though those memories were a knot and a hook in her chest, she wondered if the feel of something missing would ever be fulfilled again.

She stuffed Walden back in her bag and drew out a notebook with a pen fitted in the spiral binding. She eased it out and opened the notebook to a new page. One completely unblemished with anything wrong. On the rock, on Sauk Mountain, in the Cascades, in Washington, in her notebook, she wrote these words:

 

Feb/23/2015

 

I think I want to fall in love. I can feel this as a new frontier. Something has changed in the world–my world–and I am not the person I was just months–a month ago. If not for love what have I returned for? Not my family. Their support is lacking in the extreme. Not the weather–though this one has been relatively sunny for Washington. So love. The most unlikely circumstance to fall into–but what other force in all the world could have taken me from a location I truly loved. Only love has that power to bring me back from where I was.

Who am I kidding? You have to know someone in order to fall in love.

 

She closed her notebook and watched the sun dip lower in the west. Her mother was terrified she’s slip and break her ankle or smash her arm on these excursions. With the snow hardly melted it could be treacherous. She’d bruised herself all over by climbing down Pilchuck in the dark. If there hadn’t been a woman there to help her who had an extra headlamp she figured she would have broken her phone at the very least. But this wouldn’t be like that. Sauk had very little snow.

She sat and watched the sun dip. She wished it could just stop and wait and not set because the sooner it set the sooner she would have to go back to real life–and she didn’t like real life much. It was full of responsibilities she didn’t want to deal with–or that was what her mother said, and maybe she believed that. The main thing was she’d rather not be around her parents, if she could help it. She knew how to take care of herself, though they never would admit it.

The sun almost down now, she stood and, resigned to the worst, to the brutal honesty of real life, she picked up her backpack and started down the mountain, picking out the sturdy rocks that wouldn’t shift underneath her. Only the ones that could support her weight.

4/1/15 She Took a Step Backward

The top of Mount Sauk is bald and stony and the only thing there is the sky and the sprawling mountains we called the Cascades, stretching out beneath her. Here she could feel the wind on her face and smell the freshness of the world. When she did this it felt as though everything was within her grasp if only she would reach out and take it. But despite how close she came to being independent and free her parents would reel her back. Her dad loved fishing–she supposed reeling in his daughter was second nature for him. It was as if nothing she’d accomplished held any weight with them. Learning German while living abroad as an au pair was seen by them as an irresponsible, juvenile, compulsivity. Never mind that chances to live abroad and learn about a new culture doesn’t arrive on your doorstep everyday.

But here she was, back in Washington, looking out over that maze of water and island and mountain. What other places in the world had such breadth? She didn’t know. But it didn’t matter. This wasn’t her home. She’d left that when she left L.A.

She unslung her backpack from her shoulders and placed it on the ground. She dug around in it and pulled out a small protein bar and water bottle. Then she took a seat on a rock, another one as her back rest. She positioned herself so the most about of sun could hit her, but so she was guarded a little by the wind. In the distance she could see Mount Baker. It was as white as clouds–but she knew there hadn’t been much snowfall this season. It was worrisome for the summer. What would the rivers be like with so little runoff?

She opened her book. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, and flipped to a page she figured she hadn’t read before. She’d tried reading this book a couple times, but couldn’t get through it from start to finish. But now she’d discovered a way in which to read it. She would just read a chapter or page at a time, out of order, and take what she could from it. That way she didn’t look for an overall message, just bites of wisdom. And she found them.

Her eyes scanned a line, a paragraph, the page. She read: “I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Right, her dreams. She needed to pursue them. She needed to advance herself. But, for some reason she’d just taken a great step backwards. That’s what Washington felt like right now. A shoot that took her back to the beginning after she’d climbed the ladders.

Her eyes settled on a peak in the distance. She didn’t know its name. It was strangely solitary amid the rest of the Cascades. As if it stood apart from its family. As if its friends had moved away from it and left it in the east, while they all crept, inch by inch to the west.

3/25/15 Sauk Mountain and Before

At the top of Sauk Mountain she opened her notebook against the breeze. The breeze came from the north which promised good weather. Then she looked to the north and saw, not so far away, the saddle of Mount Baker. And just below her on the other side was Sauk Lake and up here all she could hear was the free wind in her ears and when she breathed out she breathed life and when she breathed in she was brought closer to me.

Sitting on a flat rock the, warmth of the sun not ruined by the breeze, she wished she was in L.A. still, even in this paradise it was not quite for her–fumbled at the zip string of her bag, a red backpack that resembled a tote bag. It was perfect for vagabond trips. From inside she took a pen, nothing special, just a cheap ballpoint, and her notebook which was also nothing special except for the words she would write within it.

On the rock, on Sauk Mountain, in the Cascades, in Washington, in her notebook, she wrote these words. . .

 

Earlier in the day, but after breakfast she got in her small compact Toyota and drove North. She entered I-5 near Mill Creek, a suburb of Seattle. She wore her leggings that were warm but also thin and dried and let her sweat on hikes. She also wore some shorts and a loose sweater which had sleeves that came down to her thumbs and a faded knit pattern near the neck. Also around her neck the wore a bronze chain that had a small circle, a small moon sliced in halves. These halves move independently of each other, but are both guided by the chain. The half moons on this chain are like two sisters being guided like controlling parents. She is one of those sisters.

As she merges into light traffic on I-5 North she takes up her phone and with deft touches selects the camera. She snaps a picture of herself driving. The angle is low and she looked tall and with her hair in pigtails a little like a school teacher–a sexy school teacher and that was alright with her. Then she closed the camera and glancing down, just for an instant, she thumbed the astrology app she used. But then she turned off the phone. She’d read her horoscope later. Though she’d never put much stock in astrology it was still fun to think about.

When she came to Burlington she took a right onto HWY 20 which would take her toward the cascades. Through Sedro-Woolley and later a tiny town called Concrete Washington, she didn’t stop the whole drive. When she came to Sauk Mountain Rd she took it and the trees towered up around the road and the dirt she drove over became potted and with a bang and a smash and nicked of the underside of her car she saw, from the corner of her eye, one hubcap making its escape into the side of the mountain the treacherous road followed.