The mountain helps you realize that no one really cares about what you are doing. Even when you are being watched and laughed at from the chair lift above.
“You’re turns are looking really nice,” I tell my friend ‘S’. We are standing in the snow half way up Silver Mountain. Well, we are really standing in ski boots, which are bound to fiberglass popsicle sticks with a sliding slick underbelly designed to induce near death visions.
“Oh yah? I kinda don’t feel like I’m doing that well,” she tells me. We’ve stopped to let the internal muscular burn of lactic acid production fade a bit before skiing the rest of the way down to the designated ski lift.
“Ya, when I went skiing with my dad he told me I was looking pretty good on the moguls and I was like, ‘really? I feel like I’m in control, maybe, half the time.’”
“Ya, that’s how I feel too!” ‘S’ laughs and produces one of her elfin smiles, the kind you have to smile back at no matter what.
We go quiet so we can just breathe. It isn’t the first ski of the season for either of us, but we can’t make it quite often enough to stay in shape for our near death experiences that for the same and different reasons, we both love. We didn’t think the rain was going to turn into snow but kept the faith and about half way up the Gandola ride, much to our relief, snow. We’ve skied for four or five hours now and I don’t know about ‘S’ for certain, but my burning quadriceps are starting to accrue a strange sort of squishy feel.
“Well,” I say after a few moments thought, “I guess that’s the secret, everybody’s just pretending, faking it. They really aren’t in control half the time either. “ ‘Hey dude’ “ I change my voice and act out,” ‘that was so awesome!’ ‘Yeah man, it’s cool, no big deal but uh, I got to go to the bathroom now cause I shit my pants.’ “
We laugh about this for a while before skiing the rest of the way down the mountain. It’s the call back joke for the rest of the day, because I guess poop is just funny. Thinking of the oh-so-cool trick snowboarders shitting there pants, is just a satisfying, goofy thought.
But I’ve discovered that this assessment of my fellow sliding-down-snow-lovers applies very well to the big picture, life, being an adult. All adults and grown ups, (and this includes me now, much to my shock and awe) are faking it. They’re pretending. They’re scared shitless. Which is the only reason why they don’t actually shit themselves until the effects of the bran muffin that is Time kicks in after retirement.
So I laugh at my dorky crashes and awkward pole versus skis moments and don’t care what people think because I love skiing, period. Why can’t I do the same with life? Mmh. Well, shit.
There is a little eclectic shop in downtown Pullman where they sell clothes, oriental themed trinkets and beads. A couple of years ago I talked to the owner he said that fair trade is a bunch crap and that the people over don’t want it because it’s hurting business. He speaks on the authority of having an Asian wife, as well as spending some time, ‘over there’.
I think. Like I said it was a couple of years ago. I remember at the time thinking he actually had some legit points, even if he conveniently left out some points like pay wages in factories and such. Anyway, I don’t really have enough information to be trash talking him, and that is not my intention at all. In my hunt for a second job this summer I wandered in there again. I was delighted to see they had used frisbee golf discs for sale.
Frisbees are awesome. You can totally suck at frisbee but still feel like you are accomplishing something because it still gets some distance. Ultimate Frisbee holds a love-hate relationship for me, fun yet impact-dangerous, a good workout yet my least favorite kind; it’s basically sprint drills. So when I recently discovered Frisbee Golf over spring break, or ‘frolf’ as George Castanza calls it on Seinfield, I found the bliss of Frisbee.
It’s low key, it’s social, and still challenging as I proved by taking sometimes almost ten throws to get the frisbee in the chain basket that is maybe 200-400 meters away. I’m going to invest in some frisbee-golf-specific discs because they have putter disc for when I am on my seventh or eighth throw and only ten feet away from the basket.
As is often the case, this is one of those times that links me back to, or with Liverpool. It also reminds me of one of the good American friends I made while I was there last summer. Her name of anonymity when I refer to her in my Liverpool writings is, in fact, Frisbee.
Frisbee was my hotel roommate in the Newark, New Jersey airport Hilton. I didn’t get in until 1 am, I think I told that melodramtic detail before, and felt a little creepy coming into a complete stranger’s room. But Frisbee, like me, is a sound sleeper and didn’t even hear me. She got up before me, and told me later she knew I was awesome because of the items left in view digging out my bathroom accesories bag; a very dinged-up Sigg bottle and a blue sparkly Frisbee.
I hung out with Frisbee the most out of everybody in the group. After wandering a few different times on my own, Frisbee and I talked about the beauty of wandering and not having a set plan, but also of our common love of thrift stores. I believe it was after our Slavery History tour of downtown Liverpool that we set off to wandering.
We got food and went to several different small local shops. Today I own a used book and two different awesome tops from our excursions. I got one of my friends back in Pullman some really cool yoga/hippie looking pants and jewelry for a handful of my girlfriends/girl relatives.
While you do not grow as a person unless you try new things, there is something to be said for finding those people you can relate to. In Liverpool I rediscovered or reremembered how to experience everyday life as exciting. Most of the time when I ride the bus I think of Liverpool, for example. Frisbee and I had a good time learning Liverpool via what we knew, as well as with what we didn’t know. And I treasure the souls I meet that I can truly connect with, they have always seemed hard for me to find.
But that is another thing I learned with wandering Frisbee and the entire group, as well as from Scousers; people are not as different as you think and the differences are often times the best part! When I gave a presentation for SSS staff at WSU on the University of Liverpool Leadership Training Program, what we did, now their students apply, etc., I told them that even before we got to Liverpool it was like we’d already traveled. Many of us had lived and seen different places, we were from all over the US as well as from Mexico.
Hopefully I’ll get to see Frisbee while I’m in the same state visiting for InLove’s wedding this summer. Because we only actually got around to using my frisbee once. It was low-key tossing back and forth on Crosby Beach, our last day in the UK.
I keep almost everything. I’ve got boxes stored at my parents place of pictures, projects, rock collections, awards, shirts I made, old dolls and stuffed animals and who knows what else. Someday I’ll be out of the moving an average of every six months. Someday I’ll be in a place with enough room to keep them with me, to remember, to laugh, to cry, and to write, of course.
Naturally, I keep all my writing as well. But I keep all my writing with me, and lug it in and out of new apartments each time. I couldn’t leave it behind. I needed it, I insisted, to reference events in my life, to use as writing prompts, to revise; the truth is that I haven’t delved into that much. But I’m glad I persisted in having it with me.
What you are about to read is the first journal entry ever written, by yours truly. I received the hearty three ring, book sized, gold embossed burgundy journal for my seventh birthday. My mother had my name put on the lower right hand corner on it in matching gold emboss. My favorite part, (besides my name, because that is pretty freakin’ awesome!) is the little emblem of a quill pen resting in its ink bottle in the center of the cover. Perhaps it’s why I’ve always wanted one. I finally got me a quill pen this summer, in London at the Globe Theater gift shop, but that is another story.
It is written in pencil and has a dashed line at the bottom where I numbered the pages myself, as well as a centered title line where I always put the date. I’m not correcting any of the grammar and spelling mistakes. I’m not leaving anything out; this is the complete first one page entry documenting my life, written by myself. My only regret is not being able to replicate the handwriting for you.
June 1 1992
Today win I woke up we desided to stay in bed and
read. We finished the book we wir reading and it was a
good book. I’ev red three of Natalie’s book’s and tow wir
Kirsten book’s. and one was a Samantha book and I’ev only
read one Molly book. Today I check out tow Paddington book from
the Smithfeild lidery. And the first few pag’s and so far it’s
iterging and Natalie said that she red Paddinton book’s in first
grad to and I think that’s grate. It’s grate to have a
grate sister like Natalie. She is the best helper in the
whole wide wholed becuas She help’s me a lot for one
resen she helped me lron how to ride a bike and she helped
me to lron how to read and well Just help’s all lot menly.
Oh how it makes me giggle. Especially when I read the next entry.
June 12, 1992
Last week and this week I ben spending my time
with my cusen’s and cind af haveing fun. So far I’m haveing
pritty much fun. oh and my sister is stuped!!!!
If any readers out there would like more from the spelling genius mind of Edith-Marie Roper, age 7, let me know and I’ll post some more; because while I think they are hilarious, interesting and awesome, I realize that not everyone else would agree. So…
If you desided reading this was fun and grate and a good time menly, give me a resen and I will post more.
So we wander after formal class with a little direction to begin with, still herded as a group. We saw our first British police officers, who looked way too young to be cops, and Chip was immediately drawn to them. He bombarded them with questions in his classic style that we would all become very familiar with throughout and by the end of the trip, primarily charming in an awkward sort of way. And of course we had to take pictures of and with the Bobbies before going on our way. I took one of Chip trying to look like he was being cuffed and taken in, but they weren’t playing it up much for us and Chip looks like the happiest guy ever arrested in the photo!
Shortly after that we were set loose, the herd dispersed and I finally get off on my own. Ped seemed surprised and alarmed at this, but I have no time for compromise at this era in my life; a past, my person, were shattered by too much compromise. And living alone for the six months preceding the trip made it hard to give up to what I wanted, when and how I wanted it, perhaps especially given the amazing opportunity to live and travel like I found myself in. “Anyone who wants to come with me is more than welcome,” I explained, “But this is what I’m going to do today.” Which was, a quest for bookstores and the guitar shop we past on our walking tour the first day in Liverpool, the latter I didn’t find. In the process I went down to the waterfront and took pictures for my mom that would hopefully turn out well for her enjoyment, as well as be something my mom wanted to paint. And then, I got lost.
The first time I got lost consisted of riding the bus too long on that first Sunday before the African Goya, which was a pretty fixable mistake. I took the quick way on account of being exhausted and took a taxi with an awesome cabbi with a killer Scouser accent
He’d say: waryagoon?
I’d say: What?
He’d say: wAR ya goin?
I’d say: Ooohhh,
He’d say: sosya earloong?
I’d say: What?
He’d say: owloong yastye ear?
I’d say: oh yeah? Mmmhhhh. Cool (still no idea what he said)
The fun part with Scousers is that sometimes when you do, in fact, correctly understand and know what words they used, you still don’t know what they said. They take the magic of idiom in the English language to a whole new level. He was a beacon of patience and continued to chat the whole time despite my obvious deficiency in communicated at that juncture. We arrived at the living hall,
“Next time yoo take a taxi jus tell em Carnatic,” he said.
“What?” I said
“Carnatic, they’ll know that over Salisbury.”
“Oh.” I paid. I figured out the next day on the way to the bus what the hell he was talking about. There is a huge sign at the vehicle entrance: Carnatic Halls. It then lists the specific buildings, ours being Salisbury Hall. It was then I realized that I did not speak the language, but seemed too, an illusion that generally made me look like an idiot. Despite the frequent embarrassment, it made for a lot of fun.
This time I found myself and got back to the bus station, on the corner of Mulberry and Myrtle, where walking down the street was two of my instructors. They asked me if nobody liked me. I said no, I just wasn’t afraid of being alone. And then they asked me for a drink in the Caledonia, a little local hole in the wall pub, (old guy bar they said) which I would later come to intimately love. We talked about education differences, a little about Toxteth that I would be seeing tomorrow with one of them, that I was meeting for the first time that very moment, as guide and teacher. I noted they vacillated back and forth between Scous and something else, English I assume because I could mostly understand it. Given my love of all parts of language I couldn’t help but bring it up, but they were all over it. They most definitely did talk differently to outsiders and/or friends that didn’t grow up in Liverpool. How conscious a process was that I wondered? So then we talked about the phenomenon we humans have of auto-edit, e.g. I’ll (for the most part) edit out my swearing around my parents and kids. As one these fine gentlemen paid for me second Guinness, I worried.
Me: You really don’t have to pay for it.
Him: Psht! Don’t be ridiculous
Me: Well, it’s not that I’m thinking this is what your after, but back where I’m friend a guy buying you a drink generally means… ulterior motive.
Him: huh, well it doesn’t here.
It seems maybe the elder takes care of the younger, but I couldn’t be sure and never researched it, formal or informally.
Tipsy off me Guinness’s, I expressed concern for riding the bus drunk. After which one of the instructors said, nonsense! You’ve got to do that once in a while, one of those life experiences. Giggling I thought, Could I have cooler, more down to earth professors? Probably not.
The eldest of the two, who had bought the other’s drinks as well, headed off. I was still nursing my Guinness—not like me really, but half way through it I was feeling the buzz and it occurred to me that responsible, adult-like behavior might be in order. I envied their lack of such occurrences.
The night was cool and magically engulfing as I was escorted back across the street to the bus station. I was seeing the world shiny. I engaged my salutations as I saw the bus rattle up the street on the wrong side of the road—crazy Brits. Much to my astonishment my handshake turned into a kiss on the cheek.
Me: Oh! Uh-
Him: It’s the European way!
Awkwardly I repeated the process for the other cheek.
See you tomorrows, then only after I paid my pound and forty pence bus ride did I remember reading literature on how the UK didn’t participate in that ritual. What did it mean, if anything? I would later on in my stay figure it out.
Eight years ago?? Really?? It doesn’t seem possible.
It seems impossible because, at sixteen, nothing like that had ever happened to me. Even the Gulf War was something that happened in history classes, albeit contemporary history (Mmmhhh, oxymoron anyone?). It was so surreal because, things like that, Pearl Harbor, terrorists attacks, just didn’t happen.
My boss from the days of having a newspaper route, who incidentally I didn’t like, was in the Twin Towers and died. Someone from little Logan, Utah was gone from 9/11, how weird is that? What are the chances?
My Uncle, now retired, worked for the army at the Pentagon for years. He was months into a deployment in Saudi Arabia when 9/11 happened. He probably wouldn’t have been to his office yet even if he was stateside, but nonetheless it was destroyed and nonetheless he was safe because he was in Saudi Arabia. What are the chances?
I guess when incredible things happen, there are incredible ripple effects.
And why is it that, even if you’re just being honest, saying anything derogatory about the deceased is a big no-no? I suppose you just keep the good memories, no point in preserving the others. I suppose also it’s not really fair to critique when the person has no way of being able to defend themselves or be a part of the discussion. But it’s odd, and maybe even disrespectful, when a person who never said a nice thing about the person while they were alive, suddenly sound like they must’ve been their good friend now that they are gone.
People from high school do that too, get all excited, “it’s so good to see you!! How have you been?” and you think, “Maybe you should start with how was I, cause we both know you don’t know.” Then again, maybe I’m looking at it wrong. After all, that was 6-8 years ago and isn’t who you are in the present what really matters?
Eight years ago?? Really? It doesn’t seem possible.
It doesn’t seem possible because it was so huge then. A year had more value then, it was 1/16 of your life. I first heard from my cross country coach at morning practice before school. He and some of my teammates had heard it on the radio. It sounded made up to me, like War of the Worlds or something. We all seemed to feel that way at least a little. We went for our 4 miler run.
My AP History class that I hadn’t dropped out of yet was next, and that’s when it really hit. We watched the news all class. All the teachers did, all day long. I went home for lunch and called my Mom about my Uncle to find out he was in Saudi Arabia, and subsequently, very much in one piece. I called a friend whose son was in the Army Reserves and that I was madly in love with, with all my 16-year-old heart. He looked really good in uniform. I don’t know why I thought he would all the sudden be deployed. Of course later, he was.
1/16 of my life later, which then had morphed into 1/17 of my life, I ran my cross country race carrying a tiny US flag the entire 3.1 miles. And to think, I almost forgot today was the anniversary…but then it was eight years ago.
When, if ever, does it stop being a big deal? How long to we mourn? Does keeping it alive only cultivate the fear and give terrorists their power? Does it makes us more in touch with humanity to remember for a day what others remember everyday because someone they love is gone? How much does someone bereaved think about it? How do they mourn?
The space between days 19 June 2009 and 20 June 2009, warped to time travel just a bit as we chase the Sun.It wore pinks and dreamy-creamy blues to our farewell party outside Newark, appropriately luminous and cheerful.We fly on the breath of this Sun’s laughter.Limbo, or purgatory, have always held a perception of negative connotation and anxiety; anxiety actualized when limbo becomes a real life practice.But Here is nice.Here is where I’m supposed to be in this Here undefined.I’m looking at the world through delirious insomnia rose coloured glasses and it accentuates the blood burn crimson, faded to azure, then deepened to navy black, that the Sun has now adorned with a Mona Lisa smile of knowing and knowing I’ve no idea.I have a strange peace with it all, a tranquillity I never expected to find mid-six hour flight in the middle seat yet there it trembles in its existence.I think the apparition is because I’m finally learning how to run with Fate instead of away from it or tackling it.You see—I believe in Fate.I believe in the power of the human entity to take what will happen regardless of the individual’s action and either fuck it up or make it incredible beyond what individual’s or Fate’s power could do singularly.
To cut through the flowery petals to the root: some things happen and turn out so well you can’t believe you really wielded any part of it, my peace in purgatory is from a long since lost inner initiative.I’m delightedly frightened by the potential of the resource I’ve finally been able to tap into.
“Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.” – Freya Stark
“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money. ~Susan Heller
There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror. ~Orson Welles
I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself. ~James Baldwin
The only way of catching a train I ever discovered is to miss the train before. ~G.K. Chesterton
I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. ~Caskie Stinnett
A passport, as I’m sure you know, is a document that one shows to government officials whenever one reaches a border between countries, so the officials can learn who you are, where you were born, and how you look when photographed unflatteringly. ~Lemony Snicket