Four hours is too little sleep to depend on coherence. This won’t be long, though. Today is the day of rest but I wanted to share more.
Because of the sun I decided to hike yesterday. Little Si is the first Washington trail I ever went on, back in 1997, that ancient dial-up era. It seemed a monster then, impossibly tough; I don’t think my ex and I got to the top. Washington was a wonderland then as a place is when you’re new to it and can’t find anything. How unreal to be deep in forest, climbing up damp rocks covered with moss thick and lush as cat’s fur, crossing burbling streams. It was like a Little Golden Book about living in the forest I remember from childhood: blues, greens, a sense of timeless hush.
Now I know this trail is looked down on, its popularity making it a freeway of people and their kids and dogs on days off, full of runners and fraternity brothers and sorority sisters. The county has improved the parking lot and built a second, overflow lot just down the road. NO PARKING Signs run all along the narrow two-lane. Parking is five bucks or the required annual pass, and still it fills up. But not this clear and very cold Saturday morning a little after 8.
Frost dressed the roofs yesterday too, but not as thickly as this. Out in the mountains only twenty minutes away the cold is much deeper, the car feeling refrigerated as I head up and down the hills to North Bend. Grey clouds bulge down in the parking lot and snowflakes drift down. The camera can’t get them, but they are there. They hit the car and survive a tiny moment before evaporating. A woman dresses her squirmy four-year-old across the lot; the privy doesn’t smell, or smells like old leaves, or old bread. I don’t think about that much.
Quiet beds the distant sound of the freeway and the river, voices of a few other early risers falling away swiftly. This was all logged in living memory but the trees are back. The rocks never left. There is a used feel but beneath that the knowledge that nature would reclaim everything because it never yielded.
Sun is the only thing left at the top. Cold isn’t severe and doesn’t penetrate modest clothing, the edge banished by the sun. It’s green and high, but not that high. I eat some Halloween candy a friend gave me. Her boyfriend bought way too much.
The last two weeks have been tough: anxious, gloomy, walking up and down halls and not seeing myself. My cat being gone has become normal, and a cat I provide foster care for hides under the bed and is without presence. Money doesn’t nag me as much but I am conscious of being careful. Clouds are doing it. Pills are doing it, but that’s a positive–it means they’re working and I only have to sit it out. No job is doing it. The last weeks have been silent, applying for things I’m not qualified for to meet the search requirements. Not writing this blog is necessary, proper, but leaves a hole I haven’t quite redirected to other writing.
Yesterday and Saturday–these sunny days–have been great. Whole and good, like high school Saturdays, college Saturdays, everything caught up, well-rested, undemanding and tensionless, just feeling fine. I forget what it’s like to feel like this. It’s like this time last year but without the sense of testing the ice bound to break.
I stay a while and just sit. Even without working I don’t do this very often. I am less strangled by the sense I must accomplish and do something every minute, but perhaps half the minutes. If I don’t do it nobody will, but that’s a hard long-term perspective that seems to end in early forties burnout. I don’t feel burned out, not on this mountainside.
Gravity helps go down, pulls the sky through the cathedral trees, keeps the streams gurgling. Gaggles of kids and skinny girls who huff and puff worth two hundred pounds pause to let me by. You don’t look that out of shape. The overdressed thin things laugh. Looks can be deceiving! The parking lot is full. My hiking clothes have not been washed in deodorizing hiking clothes detergent I can no longer find and I emanate vinegar-spritzed wet dog. The lot is full and Volvo station wagons wait for me to back out.
At home I clean up, don’t smell like dog, and head downtown. It’s bright, crisp, and I haven’t kept my post NYC promise to enjoy the city. I have a book, I have a pad to write on for class. Class is good, a red loud rocket of energy: no blog but good class. Belltown looks like this:
I meet the friend for dinner, the movie coming after. She has been busy, fragmented, lost in work. We had been very close, getting closer, but she was one of the things that fell apart. She wants to stay friends. She kisses me, more than once.
I sleep fitfully, the stupid foster cat enjoying the house at night while I sleep. In the morning I am dazed, but better. By accident I hit the right letter on my phone’s addressbook and the telephone counselor I sometimes talk to comes up. It’s gone to the standard phone tree the past few times I’ve tried it, but I decide to try one more time. There are prompts now, numbers to push for this and that: very complicated. I get a person; she wants my employer. Well, it’s ___, but this might not be the right number. I’m just calling what was in my phone. Even going through the game is a way of ending. It feels okay. There is no such thing as closure.
So many ends: the anonymous counselor, summer, a job I liked, August in New York, my cat friend. A woman. My sense of growing steadiness. But the autumn light is crystalline and high. Snow dances on top of the atmosphere and sometimes it sprinkles down. There are lots of mountains to climb. You can see them standing at the top. You can’t walk across–you have to go down first. I feel tired from climbing, but much, much better than before.