Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Inbetween times

Date: April 6 and 7
Mileage: 12 and 29.5
April mileage: 188.8
Temperature: 41 and 39

I yelped as wet snow soaked through my socks, filling the empty space where I stood in a snowdrift, thigh deep and sinking. It was a struggle to even lift my leg in this slush, so close to liquidation that it had become a solid, like wet cornstarch or quicksand. A deceptive solid. Not solid enough to hold me, just solid enough to trap my foot - soon to be, I feared, trench foot.

I swung around to search for the trail. I had abandoned my bike a mile back to press on as a hike. Now I was swimming. It was time to swim home. Time to give up on this whole snow hiking/biking thing. Time to leave the mountains alone until their permanent surface re-emerged from this rotting seasonal veneer. Time to think about "summerizing" the Pugsley to prepare him for the season of salt water and sand. Time to give up on winter.

So we wait now, for something. Summer, I guess. I know summer only in vague terms. It begins the day the Mount Juneau trail finally clears; the day the first black bear makes a raid on the Rainbow Foods dumpster; the day I can finally wear bike shorts. Geoff, on the other hand, knows exactly when summer begins. He has the date marked on the calendar. April 22, 6 p.m. The day the last spring ferry heads south out of Juneau.

Then I will be alone all summer long, and it's starting to sink in. I remember the last time I lived alone in Juneau, watching 2 a.m. Cartoon Network in a damp hotel room and eating my best meals at the Safeway deli. I like to think I can keep my own bad habits in check. But then I think about the Subway guy who saw me so many times he had my *exact* sandwich memorized and even asked me out, and remember there are fates worse than loneliness.

Geoff asks me every day why I don't just leave with him. "Because I have plans," I say. "Because I have cats," I say. "Because I have health insurance," I say. "Because I have a job," I say.

"Always with the jobs," he says.

"I need to feel like I have a grasp on the future," I say.

"And that too," he says.

When I'm at work is when I feel most content about my decision to stay. It's earlier, when Geoff is elsewhere and my time is only mine, that I wonder why it's so right to aspire to life in front of a computer screen and so wrong to aspire to life on a bike ... even with cats to support.

But then I ride my bike and feel happy. And I go to work and feel content. And the snow will climb higher up the mountains. It will finally disappear. And then it will return. Not every moment inbetween has to be an adventure. There will be time for that later. Always later.


  1. Not every moment inbetween has to be an adventure.

    When everything is an adventure, nothing is an adventure.

    Live Strong, girl.

  2. Living in the capitalistic world with responsibilities, jobs and providing for those who love and depend on you is a great way to live. It's comfortable, it's secure, it's satisfying, it's enjoyable and it offers tremendous rewards.

    Living off the land, off the grid, without a "nest" or a responsibility in the world isn't so great. The appearance of "freedom" in that type lifestyle is a mirage.

  3. "this rotting seasonal veneer" I love it.

    For that little bit of art, I will put a link up for you at my site.

    The thing that pisses me off is your control over the unweildy world of puntuation. Unfortunately, I couldn't cover for you at work.

  4. Jill,
    glad to find your blog. Love the strong writing; I'm probably doomed to put in the time to read lots more in spite of ready bikes and good weather. The world is just too big.

    Anyhow, I think it's an error in your favorite books bit? Miles from Nowhere is by Barbara Savabe. Richard Leo is new to me but also looks very interesting.

    Andrejs, Ithaca, NY

  5. Hey Jill...
    I've followed your blog for some time and have to tell you that more often than not (this past Winter)you've gotten me out the front door to train. Thanks.

  6. Hey Jill,

    The Subway guy has a job, perhaps health insurance, maybe even cats.

  7. As one who has "lived off the grid" since I turned 40 in 1993, working seasonally (in Alaksa!) and spending almost 7 months a year living with my partner (no cats or dogs) in a 9 1/2 foot camper travelling, hiking, biking, LIVING... I cannot recommend highly enough this lifestyle! Contrary to what Bounce believes, I have lots of responsiblities but very few obligations, just enough work to be financially okay and even have some savings. Health insurance is an unnecessary mirage, particularily if you don't have children, as are the "tremendous awards" of the typical 40-hour-a-week, year-around wage slave. Of course, it's all a matter of perspective, character, and dreams. Loving your life is the most important goal....
    Thanks for all the great honest writing!
    Skagway Suz

  8. There are many different kinds of adventure. Even work and responsibility can be one of them. Hell, life is an adventure. Just living...seeing what comes next...dealing with it...dreaming...it is all part of the adventure.

  9. You're both welcome to crash with us this spring/summer.

    You gotta make moments happen when they can.

  10. Oh yeah, wet oatmeal: When you sink down in it like that, and some goes up your pants leg, and then it packs around your ankle assuring that you'll have that icy ankle collar that melts slowly into your boot. That's a very special feeling.

    yr pal DrCodfish

  11. Thanks Dave... i'm certain we'll be crossing paths at some point this spring/summer

    "You gotta make moments happen when they can":

    well put.

  12. There are plenty of ways to live your life. What was it Freud said on his deathbed? The two things that matter are love and work? Something like that. How you pursue each is really your own call. I found tremendous rewards in work but I really enjoyed the challenges I found there...! Keep exploring...........

  13. I'm leaning to agree with Bounces comments. Job, security, etc. is a nice thing and it also gives you the opportunity to make some $$ to actually pay for the things you love to do with going too much in debt. I've been there and it's no fun.

    On the other hand I did spend my time having fun in my twenties. A vagabond drifter looking for the next adventure. That too was fun, but you have to be realistic also.

    Now that I'm turning 50 I'm looking at retirement savings etc. and wishing I would have started my teaching career a bit earlier. What the hell, that's life. I'm enjoying now just as much as before, but the only difference is everything is paid for. Accept the house of course.

    Nigity- "Always keep smile in your heart."

  14. Skagway, to each their own.

    After a long day on the MTB trails I prefer a spacious cabin with associated washer and dryer, a jacuzzi tub for soaking with a bottle of red from the wine cellar and, last but certainly not least, my super-duper king-size Select Comfort air bed.

    The creature comforts that life on the grid can buy are mandatory equipment in my life these days.

  15. It is not wrong to want health insurance and the security that comes with a job. You gotta do what feels right for you.

  16. There's nothing wrong with having
    affluenza and living the unexamined
    life...wait, it is wrong...Nothing
    wrong with someone else having
    affluenza and living the unexamined
    life...wait, that's bad too...
    Nothing wrong with not fighting
    that battle...I guess. Spreading
    affluenza and getting others to
    live the the unexamined life, well,
    that's pernicious.

    Matt Newlin


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