Saturday, October 30
We're not much on speaking terms - not really, besides the occasional drunk text or email I'll send your way - but if we were, I wonder if you'd not be privately gloating, given how it is that my body's finally forced me not to just to slow, but to halt; mobility's, for the moment, damn near nonexistent, and if already I wasn't running, hadn't been in well over a month, well now it appears I'll not much be riding either.
Call on the fates, this'll take a second
While I fall on my face...
And we can talk all we want but all I can say is that I'm sorry...
But I'm never gonna do it again
I've no real confidence in other means of escape - I've not much for drinking these days (relatively, anyways), no way of running, nor of riding - but I've my suspicions I'll find another. These words, though? They're not that.
Thursday, October 28
A heaviness I'll find lingering, all these words I've found standing in for peepholes into other lives, and how I try them on. Sighs I'll not hear, but nonetheless feel; it not being in my nature to let go except where I shouldn't, these hurts I'll of course cling to, and they to me - most of all in the places I'd most easily flood with music and liquor and exertion. Opining it best if I choose the latter (is this growing up?), I'll waste sleepless hours in music and motion pictures, but for remembering then that though solitaire's a game most play until they win, I've a tendency to play 'til I lose. Only logical, then, that these stop-gaps won't suffice; only logical, then, that I'll still find the bottle and the bike, the wee hours of the night and the shenanigans of chasing amnesia. And so it was, the night no longer young, that off I ventured, these words in need of sinking, and from their weight it seemed most natural to climb, up, up and away.
I could go on, telling the tale as it were, but here the story's the same as near always, of a fatigue that'll build up as best I need it, 'til the weight of this weariness outdoes the weight of the other, and there the scales tip. So satisfied, I'll only then find sleep. Or, in this particular case, the hours for such having expired, instead I'll shower and head off to work, another productive robot in a robot world.
Put another way: I don't wish I'd that which'd alleviate, that'd make the living any less brilliant or memories any less hard (that's what she said), and so I'll not say anything at all, knowing altogether too damn well that the sea in which we're swimming is the sky and the sky's already said it all. Mattresses of clouds marking the dawn, memories drift across rifts in time; I've no longer much a care for the direction of these currents, no love for any particular course. So: you wouldn't happen to know how to get to the beach, would you? I think I'd like to laze in the sun for a while.
Monday, October 25
On bended knee is no way to be free
Lifting up an empty cup I ask silently
That all my destinations will accept the one that's me
So I can breathe
Seems snow's seen fit to dust herself off and let her dandruffy hair on down, and so it is that ridgelines are whited, and momentary are the views I'll catch through the shadowy fingers of clouds so easily there drifting. The sky's a sea of mysteries, and the Enchantments - literal and figurative, here in this place - will only in small moments let loose little glimpses of her white flanks, akin to a thigh hinted at, temptress and tease as they are on an afternoon as this.
Circles they grow and they swallow people whole
Half their lives they say goodnight to wives they'll never know
Got a mind full of questions and a teacher in my soul
So it goes...
So it goes. Of course, I've my own fight here, beyond that of always wanting to see more, beyond that of always wanting somewhere else. I've my own fight, straining this tired bike up the dusty fire road, grinding through the low gears. Wait, he says, you rode up there loaded? Idiot!. I don't bother to correct him, Proud Mary accustomed as she is to doubters. And so it is that I strained and strained, pulling up and up and hard enough my front tire found itself every so often skipping. But, then, efficiency's no concern of mine, a rule I know but don't much want. I've my own fight here, the world spinning with fatigue and effort and mountain-loving lust, and good god, sometimes I hate how easily I'll hurl as much as I love the hurt as much as I hate it dried to my face. This fight, though, is so much simpler than any fight I've had with you, so I'll embrace this one in trying to forget that one. Running's what I do, you know. Especially, it seems, when I can't.
Don't come closer or I'll have to go
Holding me like gravity are places that pull
If ever there was someone to keep me at home
It would be you...
The sun's seeping through the sky like outstretched fingers, and the wind's a cruel mistress whipping across these far eastern flanks of the Cascades. The Columbia's a fat wonder down below, a thick snake still digesting the spring and summer melt even as she prepares for the feast of another season. A sprawling mess as I left her, the city's since shrunk to a still dwindling collection of twinkling reflections, diamonds alight with the mirrors of a million different suns, this great wonder played out across the gentler slopes nearer the river.
Everyone I come across in cages they bought
They think of me and my wandering
But I'm never what they thought
Got my indignation but I'm pure in all my thoughts
Hardly pure, am I, but still I can't help but drink it all in, forget everything else. After the aches of these past weeks' (relative) inactivity, the tightness each morning brought my backs, hips, neck, this sort of earned displeasure's such a welcome change. These are the aches of play I'm accumulating, here and now, and if it's not the sort of weary sinew I yearn for most - oh, to run to a peak! - it'll come closer than most of what I've been finding for substitutes. Oh, how I'll try and savor it, the discomfort of the riding and the parched cracking at the back of my throat, the way the world spins. I'll take photograph after photograph, hoping that in memory it'll somehow suffice, this way the sun and sky are caressing the land clearly an act of love.
Wind in my hair, I feel part of everywhere
Underneath my being is a road that disappeared
Late at night I hear the trees
They're singing with the dead overhead...
The world is in me, but I've these troubles being in it; I've still that little bump, the one that'll move where it shouldn't and always tender to the touch, the littlest bit of my densest self that's not meant to be adjusted so, this clearly fucked toe. Still, I want nothing more than to run, the delights of singletrack up and up and into the heavens on just two legs and a tank full of will. With ski season approaching, I wonder if telemarking might likewise be compromised, and over a month now it's been, longest I've gone without running in oh, fully half my life.
Leave it to me as I find a way to be
Consider me a satellite for ever orbiting
I knew all the rules but the rules did not know me
But: as these things go, I'm alright. Proud Mary's taking care of me, best she can anyways. The sky's been doing alright by me, lonely moon and lovers' sun, and if the mountains won't be run, perhaps they'll still be ridden, even as the snow line starts to drop. And that, it seems, may just have to be enough.
Saturday, October 23
So it is that, ever insatiable, the want festers. Less of companionship, preferring as I do my solo ways, but instead of correspondence and dialogue and parried give-and-take. Especially with you, the art you'd made of it. We'd most often leave points of contention in polite disagreement, but just often enough they'd burst into inexplicable venom, a spontaneous combustion of words lost forever to any sort of shared logic. Fire and ice, but never complacency, it's true.
I've no knack for this sort of thing aloud, our exchanges, and you wryly noted it so once - you speak so differently than you write - far more accustomed as I am to tripping over my tongue than any sort of eloquence. But that's only deepened my love for the written word, the way it transforms and bends perceptions and truths. Or, in your case, sometimes did; I've such an affection for nostalgia, I admit, and nowhere more so than where, for simplicty's sake, I'd rather forget.
As it always is: I've spent enough time in silence again for silence to be most often my queries' reply. Those bridges not yet burned strain under the weight of such vanishing; those burnt smolder, and in softer places flake and ash and drift into non-existence. But that's a metaphor I'm fairly certain you're sick of, aren't you?
I remember this idea we'd had of sliding under another's skin, and I realize I've no idea what to say to you anymore, only that I want to hear your thoughts. This is the beauty of slipping into another's world of words, it's true - the small conduit into this bit of you, a glimpse inside the person, flawed and tragic and whole and real. I'm fully of the mind that not loving someone's near enough impossible when you've the idea you've spent enough time inside their most honest words, inside their head, even if that love may be edged with all sorts of other things too, bladed with hate and disgust and envy and pity, as it may be. Another truth I've come to: I'm likely far more a junk show than most, but that'll hardly mean you're any less; these words we share, or more accurately, perhaps, the silences, ought to be evidence enough.
The simplest of lines a friend wrote earlier: "The thing about loving someone for their words is that with enough hard drive space you can just keep on loving. Forever." Yes, precisely. The danger and the wonder, and under such scrutiny of course it had to fall apart, crumble into the void in white-hot ash. The best of words, you know, are - and especially from the mouths of fools as we - somehow ineffable. Contradictions, all of this, clearly. And so it was that monuments of dialogue full with the things we could not say began to naturally tower over everything else; chapter upon chapter, climb as I might, that became a tower I'd no hope of reaching, worn as the walls were with re-reading. A sign, perhaps, that I still can't say it plainly, but here another try by means of tangents: though such fevered discourse was hardly a first, this familiarity with the words themselves was. You discounted it, perhaps, but I could not, and that too, I think was typical of us each. As is the fact that you'll ignore that this is about you, while someone else may well make the mistake of thinking it's for them.
Similar enough: telling myself this should matter less does not make it so. So, tell me again, why'd we retreat to silence?
Thursday, October 21
I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've these words, idle collections of nothings and somethings, all of them saying little. Of course, knowing no better I'll toss them to the wind just the same, as if blowing there in the breeze they'd somehow find quality in addition to quantity. As noted, voices change, from atop clouds (or close as I'll let fly these days, each morning bringing a body that'll feel it deeper) to the moderated mediocrity of the median that separates mutant and norm. I'm sleeping more, you know, twelve hours and ten and maybe ten again, whatever time'll allow me, successive days failing to wake in time to see them all off. Good I've a lesser schedule this week, but still - hungry I am for more sleep yet, feeling the fatigue of this long slide; this desire of drink a secondary sign, as if the words weren't enough. Strange it'll seem to not find myself editing or protecting, but then. Fuck it, you know? I've no more reason to be guarded than open, so might as well find a coin and flip it; when the view's more often of the past than the future, there's not much reason to hide, what's done simply so, and weight resting only on the moment and my eyes with it.
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
Metaphors I recall, of these hours with talking, talking, and far more said not in words than in them. Of fogs and buoys and swimming until there's no more land, of seas and sandbags and islands adrift. Of humpbacked whales, and long deep breathes. Of course, running. Falling. Gravity, things sinking. We've our codes, always. My younger other - for we are of the same clay, senor, so many of these ways we've sought to distinguish ourselves, as ever, later bringing us closer - he'll speak of the mind, ever over-cluttered or distressingly empty, and I'll immediately think of these days at the shop when I'll find both equally true. All the symbols we've shared, and I'm unsure which I'd choose now. Perhaps the island? So it is this evening I'll find myself a heart racing from too many energy drinks (four, alas, substituting for a lunch I never paused to take, forgetting myself in the busy, busy), and it seems certain enough I'm either trying to do too much (an idea I hate to consider) or remembering how to move quickly altogether not quickly enough (altogether more likely). Wide awake I am this moment, sure, but even so, in waves I'll have fatigue a wall over these eyelids; I've a beer and some rum in me, thick with the hope of quieting this fidgety, finicky mind, but. How unpredictable that experiment always is!
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
And I wait. Ghosts I've heard in the disquiet night, but well, phantoms lack substance, and so cannot be trusted. Which isn't to say I, ever the fool, won't try, for if I wouldn't allow the effort, then how would this be the mess I've come to expect? And, as for symbols, I've found my choice for the moment: ? For certainty, there's always another day.
But I always thought that I'd see you again
Sunday, October 17
We'll both forget the breeze, most of the time
Trouble came. Or, more accurately, I went and found you out, then dove recklessly in as if a mountain lake in August and I'd need of the chill against a hot summer run. A warm summer day it was then, too, hot and humid like I remembered of those years against the Atlantic long ago; sweat ran in rivers and heat radiated from the pavement and your body; the city smelled as only cities can. You held me against you and we awkwardly re-acquainted, you babbling nervously. Then, guard down, I left the precipice on which I'd been so delicately balancing, leapt on down and in, and swim swim swim I did. At least until the cold took my breath away and left me gasping, paralysed. Still. I can't regret it, only what came of it.
You and I so alike and yet so strangely different, and it shouldn't have come as a surprise, fire and fire making only smoke, but still, somehow, caught up in the swimming as I was, somehow it still came unseen. Climbing forward is ever the goal, but unless the mountain's literal, I've such an easier time rolling back, it seems. I won't fuck us over, I remember - oh, how sure I was! - but November hadn't a chance.
I'll get hammered, forget that you exist...
So it is. The night lingers on, liquid dinner in progress and I'm sitting restless even after all the others have called the night right off. Try as I might, despite the night's chill, the urge to ride won't be resisted. Into the silent dark I climb, into the invisible sky, the moon passive but watching. By god, the magic of these veins! Prometheus' fire in these fennel stalk legs, lighting again and again these sparks of vibrancy and life; Thor's hammer in every stroke down and up, and these pedals to which I'm clipped rivers of gold raining down, the road marked as only my own. Climbing to the clouded heavens, I've the darkest ridgelines to myself, the night now closer dawn than the long forgotten still sober dusk. This snaking arrow of a ride so tipped, I pause and survey my dominion: stars above and stars below, lives in myth imagined above, stranger lives imagined below. Cities below me sleep, and, in the thin black ribbon I cannot see but know is there, the river twists all the way on through.
Tired, I turn to go. At thirty-five or so, a reckless bat descending, I've this dinner to spill across the road and it's altogether far too perfect, heaven spinning and earth spinning and fatigue crashing down like a wall; oblivion and I are one, as we so easily fit. Ever on the margin of what is right and what is okay and what is acceptable (fuck all that!, I remember blurting, before I remembered better), yes, and so it is that I'll stoop beside the road where a little trickle'll cross below and scooping the water I'll feel but not see, I rinse the cold away with more cold. If I'm awake and belligerent, all the more am I alive for it, I think - and in such simple moments, what else could there be?
I have a new vigor... but still my body aches
Strange to me the questions these past few days have brought, from the most unusual of sources, all answers pointing back at the spaces I've filled with ghosts, as if phantoms could replace the missing. Harrowing loneliness?, she asks. No. Much more it's a weight, less than steady but still consistent, always there if I've need of something to push back against, even on the days when there's not much life for pushing. Tired is tired, as it goes, and tired is numb. Numb is good, especially compared to the fire ever consuming.
Changes, always. Fifteen months I spent learning slow, re-learning how to breathe, how to sometimes pause. Go-go-go as I always was, it became a foreign and forgotten thing by the end of all this riding. We're in it for the long haul, Proud Mary and I, don't you know? Of course it's now that I've of that lost haste, that I'm stepping back to drudge up the buried ghosts and calling upon those present in shadows, looking for that push I'd begun to stray from. Still I can't move quickly enough after that practiced deliberation, but I'm relearning the intentions of Busy well enough. Busy wears her smile with far more cunning than grace, but it's certainly alluring enough. I couldn't help but closer.
So it is I find myself writing on my lunch break taken at four on a Saturday, storing strings of thoughts, lines tucked away for later on my phone. Of course it's thoughts of long texts we shared I'm thinking the whole way through, and so it often enough is, that even in trying to run away, into memories and ghosts I stumble instead. Perhaps I'll someday embrace it for what it is. Until then, though, even if I've not running, I've plenty of riding in me: twice last night, and a longer ride this afternoon, easily a century of climbing and descending between them. Tired is her own trophy; there's always at least that one win. The other games? For now, I'm ignoring them.
Thursday, October 14
These silences, still. All's quiet on the western front, I wrote a friend, and at least as far as I can see – we are each our own earth, right? – that's true. I'm as absent-minded as ever I've been, I suppose, the way I've been forgetting and forgetting, though if ever I've been more in space, likely enough I'd not remember it, I think. Amidst so much fall, it's hard to think of much else, isn't it?
There's a tangible sadness to those few words used to express a connection... and the unreliability it can represent.
Seems the busier I am, the more aware I am the few small spaces, the gaps that'll whisper at winds left behind, the wall I've not yet chinked even as winter's coming; mornings'll tell me fall's well into the air and I've sight of my breath more hours each week. Students are stressing especially this week, all wanting me for math help, what with these tests before parent-teacher conferences and by god, how are they still doing so poorly, that teacher's sooo unfair, and they just don't teach right, and this is so dumb anyways... Distractions are good: math is dangerous, maybe, depending on what equations you'll choose to focus on, but a lack in empathy or understanding far more a problem. I remember that which keeps me grounded, even as I remember the tug of balloon strings and wonder at the color of the late-morning sky and the tenor of your voice.
I disappear. I find distance. I am not an easy person to be with.
I'm withdrawing, maybe. Fewer the emails I keep up on any longer, fewer yet the friends I'll still much speak with. Rationalizing: I move too much; I know how time and space wear us each down; how rare it is the friendship that'll survive more than a few such transitions. Fewer by far are the miles I'm running – three and a half weeks now it's been, yet the toe remains nonplussed, the sort of finicky that in anything else I'd have sworn off long ago. Remembering years past, I'm realizing just how much more easily I show signs of wear these days; I've yet to find any sort of comfortable peace in this. Already too much of me will crack and grind and moan and pop altogether far too frequently and easily. Maybe I'm forgetting this body I used to know, shedding a skin before I'll set in search another - hasn't that always been my past, anyways?
You're not the only one missing friends tonight, friend. Blame it on a lonely moon?
Fitting it seems that relearning anew and discovering fresh seems a necessary part these weeks as well, negotiating as I must some semblance of balance these jobs, all the unfamiliar. Only one season of telemarking behind me, and yet, now tuning skis and answering questions as if I actually knew, somehow magically an expert, I'm sure my inexperience shows. My body feels the new strains – building things a forgotten art, my hands are beat up and sore; likewise, the weight of things carried awkwardly remains the day after – even as it misses some the old ones. I'm riding less (working in a bike shop, this is not lost on me), and running none. More than a decade's passed since I last broke from running so long, and I feel the absence in strange ways, a ghost behind the lens of morning, in the taste of lunch, the fatigue of evening, even in the simplest acts of doing.
We've no need of hate, she said, when there's so much to love. And I just laughed and laughed, because people are stupid and she had a tendency to forget that.
Some acts are as much a definition, an identity, a proper noun, as they are a verb. Running, yes. I run is as simple a sentence as I am, simple as I breathe or I think. I wonder sometimes at how I might be rewriting this particular narrative, this long respite more and more becoming a fill-in-the-blank vocabulary at which I might stare absently than any sort of plot for which I've even an inkling of an outline. I've no satisfaction akin that of running to the tops of mountains, you know. Even if I knew the declination of these weeks, I've no means of taking a bearing or setting course.
I'm a kettle, dear, always just removed from the stove upon which I'd simmered...
But maybe you knew all of this, at least in the superficial way you've always heard me, even if you'll grumble about my fixation with miles and mountains. I imagine you'd tell me now how little you care; you've precisely that need to feel in control. So be it, I suppose. My mountains are better, anyways, and so's the beer. There's a solvent for everything, I'm sure of it, and it may be I'll yet find mine.
Thursday, October 7
Always I've had this knack for looking more behind than ahead, as if yesterday'd more relevance than tomorrow, but still it seems to me that some miles - no matter how traveled - bridge time and space as only the doing can. Save one short weekend a summer ago, years it'd been since last we'd gathered, and yet how little - despite how much - we've changed. Despite the many pieces new and different, the puzzles we've each shifted and sorted through, these amalgamations of experiences we've each come to call our own - despite all this, we've still our same cores, essences, even spirit animals, I imagine, should such tokens suffice. How little the years apart have changed us, for even in relatively aging, we've the same immaturity; even in wizening (again, relatively), we've this easy laughter' even in memories of tragedy and shared sorrow, we've this joy in the foolish and simple.
We had each other, the sound in sun and shade, and if I'd met their city differently, perhaps I'd not have cared for it. But with these two and the most pleasant of years on our minds, I'd not the chance to imagine Seattle any lovelier. Kindred souls, yes, and if there'd been a year apart for each day of the week, well. how little time might sometimes matter!
Of course, as with any trip, there'd be confusion and miscues, and if the departure was nearly marred, well then. Some things are not so easily soiled. Having ridden west, I'd not anticipated likewise riding the return east, but Amtrak pulled a Greyhound and forced my hand, so I played the cards dealt. Tired ass and grumpy legs, but if I'd myself a weary mind & body & soul, I'd just as easily those same freedoms I ever long for. Fatigue's the key that'll free the gate, and so it was I found myself as tired as I'd remembered from nights of long ago, the all night rides and runs of yesteryear, and thus relearned what it was to come alive, to make the stars my own. I danced in the eerie glow of the foggy climb, shivered under the hair-raising scream of a cougar in the dark, found the softest peace in the damn chill of the long, long descent. Twelve miles the major climb and twenty the descent and I'd no company but the dark, dark road; pillows of foggy clouds surrounding me on up, and then passing over the wall that'll make the crest of the Cascades, I'd no sooner begun the descent than the sky was awash with stars. I rode these miles almost entirely by the dim light of the night, flicking on a few lights only for the sound of rare life. If I ever see the Amtrak man again, I think my wish'll be to thank him.
So it was that my week began on no sleep, but I'm glad to have rediscovered the heightened acuity of such fatigue, the contrast of deadness (legs, mind) with the lively (perceptions of connectedness, scents, sights, sounds). I'm glad to have rediscovered the joy of nights in play and days in work, and there are these new discoveries each day, of students and math. I find myself again watching students work with transversals and power rules and shift laws and... I'd missed this more than I realized. The joy of learning, lights flicking on, the evils of math no longer quite so scary. And I'm remembering again the simple joys of grease and fine-tuning derailleurs and being busy with my hands. I'm waking to the world again, eating a dozen cookies if I feel like it (for a third breakfast!), forgetting to eat when I'm busy and eating all the time when I'm not; bloody mary and a beer and I'll call it a first dinner, the rest of it all coming after, fatigue included. There's less room for too many questions these days, and I'm thankful.
If I'd forgotten how simple the days might be, I'm glad to have stumbled back upon it. And, realizing what dates like today might have symbolized? I'm only the more glad for it. I prefer these roads to that one.