Friday, May 2, 2014

Cascade Mountain Majesty

Colossal, silent giants looming over our village. As much as I am a part of the community, so are the Cascades. As sure that the sun will peer over the edge in the morning, the mountains will stand as a quiet comfort to the valley. These gentle giants serve as much more than protection. Their flowing slopes offer a lifestyle, a meeting place for driven skiers and boarders alike. The run off keeps our summer crops bountiful and our rivers high. These mountains offer a sanctuary for wildlife, and a home for once nomadic hippies, who seek refuge, a place to lay roots.
The Cascades: one of the major mountain ranges in North America. This range spans from British Columbia, down to the northern tip of California. At their highest peak of 4,392 m (Mount Rainier), this makes this mountain the most topographically prominent- a sight for all Washington residents to see, and a friendly welcome to those visiting as their plane glides gracefully into SEATAC. From the beautiful Bavarian village of Leavenworth, you can’t see the gentle giant Rainier, but you’re constantly reminded of the powerful, silent titans.

Our small Leavenworth community thrives because of the mountain. 45 minutes in either direction lies a ski resort: Stevens Pass and Mission Ridge. Stepping in front of a chairlift’s seat and sitting down is like signing a contract. You’re committed to making it to the top. There’s no turning back. You place your booted feet on the bar below for stability. with your skis strapped on, dangling, the added weight makes you feel uneasy. As you climb higher, the mountain’s height becomes more apparent. Your ears pop as you yawn, finally, coinciding with a grandiose sigh of relief. Butterflies twist and turn in your stomach when you can finally see the top. The moment has come to let go of the lift and slide onto the summit. Careful not to dig your tips of your skis into the powder, you lift your feet slightly and press down: you’ve made it.

When your time on the mountain is all said and done, you return home to simple pleasures. Steaming hot chocolate in the morning with your family is a daily comfort. A little sugar to get some pep in your step early on, but just the right amount of warmth to insulate your body while you shovel the driveway. When you live in the mountains, you’re isolated from the rest of the world, but no one seems to mind. When you’re an hour away from civilization, your family becomes your best friends. When the nearest grocery store is 14.4 miles away, down a treacherous dirt road, that easily ices over during the months of October through April, simplicities become necessities. Preparedness becomes survival.

The arctic winds biting at the tip of your small, red nose is a reminder that the passes are thriving. The tremendous height of the mountains remind me that I am so very small, and that the world is so large. All possibilities are endless because I still have so much to see. The mountains are a comfort. They are a reminder that I’m home, but they’re also a reminder that I have so much to see and explore. They mountains aren’t leaving. They’ll be there to gently welcome me back home when I’m ready.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

strangers and survival.

I just really need to get this off my chest.

I've made some mistakes. I don't feel like I need to go into them, but let your mind wander. This isn't looking for the sympathy vote, I just acknowledge that I'm human. We mess up. I'm come to terms with my past and it has shaped me into who I am today. I have moved on. It was really difficult to do and it definitely took time, but I'm in a good place now.

I think a lot of the reason why I'm okay is because the right people came into my life at the right time, and I'm forever grateful. They kept me up when all I wanted to do was lay at the bottom of the river and watch the world float on their kayaks, plunging their oars into the ice cold water, inches away from my face.

But no. I'm here. I'm a mermaid at heart, but I'm swimming through college, drowning in homework, rather than a body of water.
I'm alive.
Fingers unpruned.

I don't reflect often on that fateful July night- or June night? I'd rather not have a specific date in mind. I've chosen to forgive him. It puts my heart at rest. I can look at him in the grocery store as a familiar face, not a terror, but not a friendly one either. We are two strangers. Two people who met in past lives, but our paths will never intersect again because I have made that choice. This isn't out of spite, it is out of forgiveness and out of peace for myself.

I don't want to look at myself as a victim. Sure, I can't recall anything past walking up the stairs, begging for protection, waking up in an unfamiliar room and wiping away my dripping mascara as I climbed into my friend's car the next morning, hardly able to give directions through the veil of tears clinging to my eyelashes. But this still haunts me. I have forgiven, but this terrifies me. How easy it was for something like this to happen. How easy it could happen to someone else.

Now as I prepare my move home, I'm excited. I truly am. I'm not scared to see his face at safeway, like I said, he's a stranger. I'm excited to be home with the people I have chosen to let close to my heart. But my heart is hurting.

My love has taken what happened to me, personally. He swears if that guy makes a pass at him, or if he tries to be friendly that he he is not afraid of going to jail. It's a struggle for him to see him because of what he did to me. I'm very lucky to be with someone so protective of me, but I feel like he's making himself out to be the victim. "Do you know how hard it is to see him? Be in the same room with him?" he asks. Shouldn't those be the questions that I ask? But I don't. I've moved on. I wish he too could push that hatred away from his heart- look at him like a stranger like I do. Look at him like a stranger because I have to. I have to to survive.