The carpet lady set me off. While selling me a tapestry, she told of teaching English in Nepal for twelve years. I could teach in Nepal.
The tug is strong, a full-body pull.
Go, go. Teach, teach.
My feet have been firmly on Colorado ground these seven years. I have been burying a past and building a life, step by step up mountains, shedding layers of sweat, memory, bringing alive new parts of me. Teaching kids, making friends, loving so many. Enjoying a full, close relationship with my favorite sister. Your lives get wrapped in each other's and it feels good. It feels like a well-woven tapestry full of brilliant colors offsetting the dull ones cuz yes, they're there too.
And I'm close to him. If I stay with him, Nepal is out of the question. So is a spontaneous summer car trip up the California coast and hiking in the Northwest. The imagination is curbed. He adds a layer of consideration. His feet are firmly on Colorado ground for the indefinite (and loooong) future. If I accept that love and keep this relationship going... no Nepal for me.
The carpet lady gave me pause, made me long. Eyes a-sparkle, old hands wide and expressive. A story. A caring. Somewhere far away. A different way of being. Consider the possibilities. Indulge the thought, to think that I could do it. I have the skill set, the interest, the drive... to go other places. To be different.
I have wanderlust. That lady and her magic carpet have taken my brain for a ride.
It used to take daylong treks up big mountains. Long sustained activity that left room for only tiredness. It took wearing out my muscles, my body, my ever-churning mind left no option but to stop the churning and focus. Focus on rock, movement, tent set-up, calorie-getting. That fatigue felt good. Getting to that point felt good - the sucking of air, the burning of lungs, the absolute stunning beauty of mountains. It took me there. To the happy place, a place where I let go of everything that wasn't being.
Now I get there differently.
It takes... a morning of waking with him, my 6-month man who I'd like to be my *jinx* forever-man, coffee on the couch, idle chatter. A slow preparation for leaving. Pulling the car off the road to smell the pretty things, to take photos of new flowers, to pee down the side of oblong uptilted rock, competing... him,
of course, winning. A hike up Devil's Head, a 3-hour endeavor with stops, shared observations. Weaving our way down unknown roads, talking, listening to music, being quiet, soaking in sun through the windshield, wind ruffling via the sunroof.
One of my favorite memories of the canyon is him. Coming around the corner, cheeks stuffed with pb&j bagel, one bite pinched yet in his fingers. Striding toward me, trying to smile around all those cheeks.
I was hot. Not just with the 87 degree Grand Canyon sun, but furious at him for not giving me half the bagel. Hadn't I just raged 20 minutes ago about how hungry I was? Hadn't I been silent at our last stop in the shadow of the red layer? Hadn't that silence communicated to him that every part of my skin was prickly, that my stomach was growling, that tears were near? Hadn't he seen me stomp off, tired of waiting yet again for my brother and his girlfriend to finish their lunch, wanting to get out already, to get to the car and eat mounds of real food? Was he genetically-incapable of reading the needs of the woman he supposedly loved? Was he selfish? Was he stupid?
"You didn't think to save half of that bagel for me?"
The pinched bit was instantly thrust toward me.
"No, I don't want your last bite." Spit couldn't have sizzled more on the rocks.
Silently, but looking at my face and finally (hallelujah!) taking it in, he pulled off his pack and fished out a whole, intact, oatmeal & raisin Clif bar.
It made a dent in my hunger. It made a dent in my anger. It loosened my tongue enough that I could tell him all that was going on. How I felt so strong, going up, ascending out of the canyon, how I was born to do that, but that it KILLED me to have to stop and wait. He listened in that quiet way he does. We looked at the blisters on his heel and toes. We speculated about how much more of our 10.3 mile hike might remain. He hugged me and held me by the small of my back. He helped me into my pack.
One of my favorite memories of the canyon is him. Watching me melt down. And calmly, coolly putting me back together.
HA! If only you knew!!!! Yes, I feel proud that you've said this and for a moment, I even forget the truth and the secret side of me. And yes, someone asking if they can publish a piece of my writing feels GREAT. But I also know the cost and the secret side of me. The vision that blurs around my periphery because I am concentrating-focused, racing from thing-to-thing-to-thing, trying to hold it all together and I care so much about it all that I can't bear to drop a single shard cuz I'm sure the whole caboodle would be shards if a strong enough wind came by. I do love it all: grad classes, new teaching job, MY STUDENTS (are awesome times 10,000,000!), my colleagues, my family (oh yes, they're in there somewhere), my mountains. The outside look is happy, happy, happy cuz I do love it all.
But the cost. Man, I know the cost. Nights like last night where I cannot drag myself to the pool. Instead my car steers itself to Target and the Oreos are open before I leave the parking lot. Potpies ensue - comfort food for the frenetic. I allow it. One night of total abandon. (I know, sexy abandon this. Feel free to add yoga pants and baggy sweatshirt for the full effect.) That somehow recharges my batteries and makes me able to get up the next day, get on my bike and charge uphill (yes, it is literally 5 miles uphill to my school) to see my students again and teach them math and writing and music and... life. Followed by the downhill ride where I plunk again in front of this laptop and respond, respond, respond to grad level reading but connect it to me. I have to make it who I am. Then to eat and exercise and have any kind of social life that is permitted at this point.
HA. If only you knew, colleague of mine... the secret side of me.