This horrific putrid green carpet that turns my clean socks brown denies room 201 of ever looking decent even on its good days. With the summer crowd gone, the folks from up the hill (Mammoth) have moved in, and once again unfamiliar faces pass me in the hall, but they do not seem as friendly as my coworkers in the laundry. Behind our laundry building, snowplows are being prepared for winter, and the debates begin about the noise and air pollution these machines will produce in the park. The snow plows were once banned but George W. Bush vetoed that law, and so now, once again, the arguments rage on. I was in a melancholy on the walk home from the bar tonight, and the coyotes laughing in the distance added to my “breathe it all in” moment. I think it’s the loudest they have ever been. I am going to miss this place. How soon it takes for me to unknowingly start taking for granted what I used to only dream about. Tomorrow is Halloween but my compadre and I will be spending our favorite “holiday” on the road. Five and a half months in this place. As much as we complain about living conditions and factory work, there are many reasons which make these irritations and annoyances irrelevant and yet all the more worthwhile. There is an irrefutable charm in the air that has been tempting me even on the worst of my days. I should have used my time more wisely. I did good for a girl who’s never spent longer than two weeks away from home. But I still adhere to this overwhelming sense that I have only just begun to open up a section of myself I have neglected for most of my adult life. This certain “charm in the air” will only grow more potent the further away I travel and I will have no choice but to return and successfully fulfill the opportunities I shied away from this summer.
You never knew when the moment was yours, or where to go when given the chance. Only now will the moment present – dead in the mourning’s of past.
How stupid I am. Remembering now the first days of my arrival, I have grown accustomed to fresh air, mountainous surroundings, and newfound friends I have been craving for quite some time. I remember when it was all still new, and although thoughts of home would bring tears to my eyes, I knew I was where I needed to be. One more week and I shall be taking the long way back to Houston. Already excited about visiting with family and friends but yet not fully aware of how different I have become; the moment to appreciate the seconds at hand is in this very hour, on this very night, in this very room…
I have tasted the role I might have portrayed, and mingled with those who are well on their way. While enticing it seems, I must alter my dreams and envision a different play.
“I am no longer who I once thought I was.”
I don’t want to be another drifter wandering aimlessly through life without a layer of security to call home. This lifestyle used to appeal to me, but I now know how quickly I would lose my sanity in this type of atmosphere. Five and a half months of my life have been spent talking, working, and living with such drifters, and I cannot begin to express how ready I am to be among familiar faces, research papers, and algebra exams…Electric Peak is currently hidden behind a cloud of snow, and the surrounding rolling hills have been dusted for the first time this autumn, but Gardiner has yet to be christened, receiving only mud puddles and drenched asphalt to quench the thirst for winter. I am not unhappy. Rain has been a much needed presence this summer and in its absence, dry and relentless heat has pounded on my nerves. Air pollution from the many lightning-started forest fires has been extinguished and I am thankful for my late October extension. Two more weeks and the redwoods of northern California will be in my possession.
Why can’t I write? This so called “writer’s block” seems to be more like a permanent reality. I keep thinking the verses will come to me after my arrival home and I am able to reflect on my stay here, but I know it is only an excuse. I am losing sight of the capabilities and idealism that I used to hold on to so tightly. Thought provoking questions get stuck in my mind and they are all I can grasp making it difficult to function and interact with people throughout the day. I am always lost within myself wondering what will become of me and if I will be able to succeed in this world, and will I spend the rest of my life alone? How can I enjoy myself when these pestilent worries remain fixed and unanswered in my conscience? But I know that it will come, the answer will come unexplained and unaccounted for, just like it always does. Maybe I am trying too hard again and placing too much importance on the future and not enough energy on the present. I can never seem to put anything into perspective until it is a thing of the past.
Last night I fell asleep to the cynical sound of laughing coyotes gathering somewhere near the vanishing river. Another Indian summer wreaks havoc on my want for winter, but I must be patient in these last September days. I have been thinking of home way too often. Six months stationed in Montana living with complete strangers has been a trying experience, but have I served my time well? Living up to my reclusive nature, I have made no connections or lifelong friends, these people I shall probably never see again. I did not camp out or go on as many back country hikes as I would have liked. I found out that I’m really not a big fan of the “hippie” and that maybe the city is more up my alley. I am more attached to home, aka, Houston, than I ever thought I could be. I am not as nice as I once assumed, but I actually take pride in my dark undertones. College is still on my mind, and this pleases me much, for, as of now, it is all that I have going for me. Houston is still public enemy number one but I appreciate my family now more than I ever have before, and that is why I miss Texas immensely. Family is what makes it so hard to leave.
“America is under attack”
I found me a little spot of sunshine to keep warm down by the river. The Bunk House is overlooking my violent mood swing and I’m making sure the coast is clear to smoke my herb. Today I felt like dying and taking the past with me as I go. Not yet ready for this life, I don’t think I will ever have what it takes to follow my breath to the natural end. What am I going to do? There is a means for escape I retreat to in my mind for every waking hour I have witnessed since childhood till now, but paranoia has grown increasingly worse through the years and I fear what will become of me in the unavoidable future I have yet to plan. My self-proclaimed talent is under attack and in danger of being raped of its authenticity. I have become my own worst enemy, and with the realization of this horrific betrayal, who is on my side?
Always searching. New faces transform into familiar expressions who no longer capture my interest. Long-awaited mountains put my favorite pictures to shame, but from where I am stationed, the view could be more pleasing and the elevation could be a bit higher. Never satisfied. Where would I be right now if the summer was spent in limbo and my spirit was never provided the opportunity of new challenges? Winter rolled in with the clouds today and I am cozy in my bottom bunk, tucked away in my blankets, enjoying the aroma of an incense stick. Contentment is temporary.
I can remember my dreams when the news was still fresh, the disturbing nightmarish distortions, the confusion between life and death, the illusion of a face whose soul no longer gives expression, or sight, or breath. I can remember these really bad days when the reality of an unexpected occurrence spoke much too loud and weighed much too heavy in my ears and on my shoulders. – for Gwen –
The final stretch lay before me and my time away from “everyday” has been spent carelessly; swiftly. I have made substantial connections that, hopefully, will broaden my window of opportunity. Scenery that steals my temporary backyard has become a familiar sight to my spoiled eyes, yet I know I will not fully appreciate the beauty of my view until I am once again among towering asphalt hidden behind smoggy air with miles ahead possessing nothing but disturbed land to entertain my eyes.
Another full moon shines bright in the small town of Gardiner, Montana. Coyotes can be heard in the distance probably somewhere near Jardin where Golden eagles are in abundance and gravel roads disappear into forests of trees. During the summer months in Gardiner about 500 people are accounted for, during fall, winter and spring only about 250 people are left. Moose and elk roam freely down the “main street” and a dog can be found at any existing family owned establishment.
What are you going to do now that life has you cornered and bound? I confided in you all these burning details I could never put into words while face to face – in my letter I was able to enlighten you without reservations, but your response disappointed me. Maybe you’re exactly where I’m at. Swallow hard for I’ve heard it only gets more difficult and we still have a long way to go. Do you find yourself thinking about suicide at least once a day like I do? Intense words to just throw on a piece of paper, but where else could I possibly admit this? I think you are aware of that part of myself containing the deepest, sickest, most shameful secret I unwillingly, or naively, inherited as a child. Perhaps you hold the same secret. I know, I’m digging too deep.
8/10/01 The world left behind will continue without missing a beat but there are those of us moving a little slower these days. What about your mother and brother and sister? What about your son and your wife? What about you? What about your life? Tonight I will be staying up late consoling your ex-fiancé and my best friend after hearing about your sudden refusal to live. I think it’s safe to say that everyone is still in shock. I am in disbelief myself, but it is last night’s journal entry that has me questioning the contents of this evening’s tragedy. I was writing to a friend of mine who has become more like a stranger over the past two years, and I was wondering if maybe she is as troubled and unhappy as myself, for I too have become passively distant. Not yet finished, I intended to complete the extent of my complaints the next day, but now I am no longer composing this in her honor. I must have been writing to you, unknowingly, the whole time. I think you and I are a lot alike in a lot of ways, but your recent departure has not left me with much hope. Suicide cannot be the only route to peace. Tying your own noose, placing it around your neck, starting the movie reel leaving yourself two hours to be undiscovered until the reel caught itself on fire is a pretty dedicated way to finalize your breath, but friends and family still speculate your desire to be found before it was too late like so many times in the past. Their wonderings are a way to deal with the pain – I don’t think you wanted to be saved. You and me, we were a lot alike, always chasing happiness and messing it up when found, uncontrollable mood swings, self-hate trips, jealousy, depression, drug use, character hopping, anti-social tendencies, vanity, pride, fear: we should have talked more than we did. I’m sure you can imagine the madness you left behind but perhaps you were starved for the attention. I guess that’s not the point. I am going to focus all my concentration on enjoying life again. I am going to take better care of myself. I am going to be nicer to people. How many times did you repeat those exhausted resolutions to yourself? I am having a difficult time being there for Gwen and realizing how bad of a friend I am. I’m sure you know where I’m coming from. This suicide thing is like a disease and, as I was having my own thoughts about calling it quits before you even acted on yours, I am not able or qualified to console those you left behind or those who wish to follow. It takes all the energy I possess just to keep my spirit alive, and this self-centered use of time just adds to the formulated array of criticism and negativity in which I surround myself. You affected and touched more people in your life than you will ever be aware. How does your family handle something like this? How do I handle the pain of my dearest friend? We are here in Montana away from the realities of our everyday routine lives, but there are some things that even the mountains can’t cure. About two weeks ago Gwen and I jumped out of a plane at 9,000 ft, and for about 8 minutes out of our lives, we were soaring with the eagles. She screamed your name on the way down and I have complete faith that you heard her and watched as she fell further from the sky only to feel the familiarity of earth again. I could hear you laughing, watching with disbelief as the love of your life plummeted towards the ground. You would have been so impressed. If only we could have talked sooner. – for Lyle –