On expiration dates
… or hiking your problems away.
It’s been five days since Roomie has said anything more than yes, no, or mornin’ to me, and, judging by the feeling, about a decade since I’ve had a meaningful full-blown conversation with someone vis-a-vis.
Above all, America remains lonely. The strange part is, things do happen to me, but true loneliness isn’t about events — it’s a feeling within the category of connecting to another human being. Sometimes I think I do, but it’s fleeting; I’m not sure if it’s the different, faster pace of life (even in the slowly declining summer hotel season), or if I should begin attributing it to the way the nation generally works. Perhaps it’s all got to do with my own passing status. On the verge of something beautiful, someone told me “but you won’t be here long enough for that. It doesn’t matter.”
I resent that sentiment. I resent being put in the not worth the time bin. This is our distinction, America and I; I would have cared and remembered more for the shortness of the time given, I would have made it immortal in the creases of my mind. America, they (he? she? it?) wouldn’t even begin considering me for the expiration date that flashes like a neon sign on my forehead.
Infinity, or nothing. My own tattoo remembers me of that state of mind, of being so young and so eager for commitments of always. You change, further on; one day at a time is enough.
It’s in this spirit that I’ve started, ironically, looking for more solitude, or perhaps just equating my inner state with the outer, too. Colorado is a great place for hikes, even more so now that the summer seems to run at a steady just-below-80 and an occasional threat of a thunderstorm here and there.
At 8100 feet, exploring Animas Mountain was a treat — and an absolutely lonely one, too. I didn’t try to convince Roomie to join me. The last time we went for a ‘hike’, she was wearing sandals and gave up after twenty minutes, sitting down under a tree and looking thoroughly upset with me.
It occurred to me, as I bit my knees and panted for air, that the only way I actually like hikes like these is if I am, in fact, alone. I’m not the most physically-ready person, my face gets flushed almost on command, and most hike-loving companions would have exceeded me in every way, even — horror of horrors — have to wait up on me or offer to stop.
None of these things are actually a crime, but they somehow take away from the enjoyment. For me, anyway. Especially the well-meaning, laughing-with-you-not-at-you comments that inevitably happen. But then, I prefer to go through trials (of different natures) on my own. It’s almost definitely a trait passed down by my mom. Deep inside, we’re proud people; vulnerable at times, yes, but never wilfully, and definitely never in public.
Back to the matter at hands — essentials in a small backpack and a lot of stubbornness in my majestic thigh muscles, I took on the mountain. And oh, what a beautiful take it was. Almost two and a half hours later (picture stops, shh), the only other hikers I saw were at the very top: an eager, obviously sporty family of three, and a spirit-like hippie flower child who nearly gave me a heart attack while sitting on a narrow ledge. I took my time there, as well; cliché, but there’s nothing like allowing the feeling of your own tiny insignificance consume you as you stare in the face of the Giant that is nature. Vertigo, too, definitely — looking at the pictures, I can still sense it, how it made my head spin to try and take it all in because it was just too vast to comprehend. It was like my mind fought me on it, stepped back from the ledge in place of my feet.
During the descent I came across a half-eaten deer leg. After a couple of seconds of a mortified stare, I jump-started myself into moving again and was somehow considerably faster at it than I had been previously.
From then on, my week has mostly been muscle-achy work. In the middle of it I’ve taken care to print out all of the plane and bus tickets for the ultimate October hike, so now most of what’s left to do is just save, save, save money. It’s rougher with my hours getting slowly cut due to the tourist season slowing down, and when Roomie leaves here in a couple of weeks, I’ll have to say goodbye to my beloved cooking pot, as well. I guess those are issues I’ll worry about at a later time — for now, a brand new, gorgeous lavender backpack at the foot of my bed keeps reminding me of the stories we’ve yet to see and tell.
Alone or not. There’s always an ally in writing.