Dear Diary 011: The Solitude of Mountains
I’ve been escaping to Bend. Almost weekly.
Beyond amazing coffee, good friends and more than 10 breweries from which to choose, there’s a distinct brand of Quiet.
It’s two days every week when I can go without talking to anyone. When I can sit in a mostly-empty living room and read books without a single distraction. In the morning I open the front door and the back door and let the cold air blow through the place. The cats do not escape (in Bend, the cats do not even exist – a luxury which keenly defies most everyday interpretations of reality). I open the front curtains and watch people in puffy coats pass through Drake Park.
I boil water in my single saucepan because I do not have (or need or want) a teapot. I make a pot of French press with a methodical patience.
I surface clean obsessively. I practice complex and mostly unimportant candle lighting rituals. I light incense. I take hot showers.
Sometimes reading becomes writing becomes daydreaming because holyshitgottawritethisdown, but the main takeaway is that my mind can hit a groove that feels impossible when surrounded by the all-the-time-everything nature of my go-go-go life in Portland.
The kitchen is pink, the bathroom is pink and the bedroom is barren save for the old futon that we bought as furniture (not for sleeping) back in 2003 when we lived in a tiny slice of an apartment in Potrero Hill – a neighborhood characterized by the fact that it either goes exactly straight up or exactly straight down (and so, therefore, do you).
The futon has been our guest bed for eight years and I’ve been told it’s comfortable. I’ve also been told it’s uncomfortable.
Comfortable or not, it’s a soft spot for my head in a town that fist bumps my spirit, nurtures my body and is opening doors to some really exciting professional projects.
Here is a widely accepted idea that I have outgrown: you can only live in one city at a time.
I’m going to live here, there and maybe over there some day too. My car is a gypsy wagon. Tally ho.
In the middle of the week there are three hours heading south. Mountain passes now have snow. Long roads cut through them and my car etches soft curves while the landscape shoots a stun gun at my heart. It’s roadtrip quality freedom pangs tempered by a constantly evolving feeling of coming home.
There’s something special out there and it isn’t just the smell of juniper in the air.
There’s something special out there and it isn’t just my favorite miniature cycling buddy, Ms. Tina Brubaker (but damn if sometimes she isn’t the best thing I see when I roll into town!)
Bikes and Snow
Last December I raced Nationals in Bend and lost both my big toenails to mild frostbite.
Last Wednesday I rode up Skyliners to duke out some ‘cross training and found myself shivering on the first descent after LT Interval Round One. Goddam this town, I thought.
There was snow on the ground around me so I took to a side trail and practiced letting the bike move underneath me while the traction came and went. Riding snow is a little like slippery mud. You have to stop riding and start feeling. Trust your bike and follow it. Learn when it’s appropriate to apply power. Focus on finesse. Be sweet and smooth and supple.
Huffing uphill on Interval Round Two I passed Chris Horner, who was coming down in the opposite direction. Chris is a hard man, but he looked cold too. I got an almost imperceptible roadie finger-lift greeting from him and continued my slog up the shallow grade. I made myself keep riding by promising another trip offroad on the way back into town.
And a cup of hot cocoa upon arrival at the apartment.
With Rumple Minz.
I made this for you.
I love you this much. My heart is a chocolate you-loving machine and I want you to have this. You deserve it. Smooches.