The key sticks in the door. I can’t get it to turn, “What the hell? this now too?” I push and slam and pound. Then eventually after several minutes I slide the key out and back in. The key works. I am home.
Damn good thing too. I’m not fit to be around any other living thing right now. I am the boy the morning after Prom who is still a virgin. I don’t want to talk about it but it’s all I can think about.
That damn mountain.
I can’t wait to find the little stream, or the orange flowers. To have a heavenly visitation from a dark dragonfly circling me for recognizance. I caress its tall, wild grasses and I hum like a newly tuned violin when I find that flat rock to perch on and let time drift with the clouds above me. The breeze blows a Sonata. I am somehow musical too.
Sometimes moss sticks to me, sometimes my toes blister. On a good hike my legs will beg to stop and that’s when I push harder. I dream in trails and sweat. I’m not good at it or tough or impressive but I am in love. Yet love can kill you as dead as hate. Sometimes love kills you before it breathes life back into you too.
I got lost on my mountain in the afternoon while the light rain fell. The fog came down and covered the valley in the forest and I lost the ridge line and the trail I came in on. I panicked. My breath got loud and forced. I was fragile like autumn grass. I told myself I wasn’t but a few miles from a road and I needed to stop losing my bearings. I sat down. I decided if I was there past dark I’d sleep and be okay. Still, I feared and felt dramatic and vaguely hurt from the rejection of it all.
How does a mountain reject me? In the worst way, I suppose.
I felt the failure. I felt the weakness move back in on me. I knew I’d make it out in tact yet I worried what I’d be leaving behind in the mist and trees. I wondered what other dreams I’d have to kill because they were as false as this one. Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail a segment at a time? Nonsense. That’s for someone better, stronger, smarter than me. I circled the mountain for two hours before I found an old trail I’d taken before. I walked it out.
By the time I got back to the car I expected relief but instead regret hounded me.
“I suck.” I whispered it fifteen times in five minutes under my breath.
I am trying to be good at being alone, doing alone, living on my own and finding that beauty in solitude. I had it. I thought. Now it fell away. I dropped it on the path, under a tree on a fork I can’t find again.
I hit the coffee shop and found Randy. He’s spent a lot of his life in various camps around here in the mountains. I told him my story, “Oh I know that feeling. It’s happened to me too. It doesn’t feel good. That adrenaline makes you sick for awhile. I try to say it’s okay. But really it’s not.”
We talked the afternoon away about regret and fear, about losing so much in life but still hanging on. He showed me the latest thing he’d written. It was good. It usually is, “I want to be legit. I want people to read what I write and like it. I want to feel like my life is valid” he said with the dark circles under his eyes. I know it all so well. I feel it all so well.
At five the coffee guy said we had to leave and we did. Neither of us knew where to go but we disappeared down different streets hoping somehow to find a place to be valid. I thought it was the mountain but now I’m not sure anymore.
Maybe I’ll go up there tomorrow and see if we can make up. Maybe a dragonfly will stop by and tell me something important. Maybe if I turn the lock slowly and kindly the keys won’t stick. Maybe someone will read this and say, “I relate.” Maybe one day we’ll all be legit and valid. Maybe.