Monday, January 25, 2010

I wouldn't trade one stupid decision

The woods were lovely, dark and deep, and we had miles to go, but I was already asleep. It’s not like I’m a newcomer to this country, and yet, every time, I am struck by the scale of things here. Trees so large, mountains so tall, and I am so small. Sometimes that is comforting and sometimes that is not. Elsewhere and anonymity and all of that, but also insignficance and the fear of dissolution, disintegration. Am I even here? Am I in one piece, or just a set of molecules barely held together by weak forces, and it won’t be long before I fall to pieces.

You could meditate on such things when enveloped in a cloud of snow, in the blanket of white that makes everything look clean, pristine, untouched once again. It’s a blank slate, a slate wiped clean. You can take it as a sign and forge a path.

Or you can just take a deep breath of the fresh mountain air and behold the beauty of the temporary. Because you have been here before. You know it won’t last. Remember that this slate is really just covered, not clean. You know what lies beneath. But that doesn’t make you jaded. It makes you more aware of how precious, how amazing. So look at the impossibly blue sky and feel the biting wind from the lake, and let your eyes burn from the blinding reflection of the white.

It’s hard work, walking through a snow drift. And once you’re in deep, once you are in the heart of the forest, it’s like so many other difficult journeys- you must finish, simply because you have no other recourse, no other options that require less of you. It’s exhausting and after a while, you feel as though you simply can’t continue. But you stop, and take it all in, embrace the moment, and then you start again. And you keep going until you reach the end. And when you reach the end, it feels such a relief, it feels as though you will never feel so happy to be on pavement.

But the next day, you do it all again.

*


The drive home took hours longer than it should have. The roads were in some places treacherous. S was worried. When he gets worried, he gets quiet and restless. He kept peeking out windows and between front seats, trying to get a better view. He watched the bad drivers making bad decisions, and I could nearly see the muscles in his shoulder tensing up. K, driving, kept her chin up. She had wanted to leave early, get home in time to face the week with some degree of contemplation. Occasionally, she cursed loudly, but it was kind of a release and then she was satisfied for another hour, back to her chipper, perky baseline. MK was the calmest, reclining, remarking on the traffic and bad weather conditions as if he was announcing a game. And this gave me, trying my level best to distract myself from an onslaught of carsickness because wouldn’t that just add to the fun, a rather obvious idea.

Maybe the game is on the radio?” I asked hopefully, though I was actually asking for permission, not out of curiosity. Of course it was on the radio. The West and the East may be different in some ways, but if there is one thing you can count on, it’s AM radio announcing football games when you are driving home from the mountains.

MK fiddled with the channels and found a station announcing. S asked, “Who do we want to win?S is sort of proud of his lack of inclination towards television and sports (which sometimes makes me wonder how the two of us manage to be cordial towards each other in any way).

I shrugged. I didn’t really care who won (yikes, Maitri, please spare my life!), but, as I pointed out to S, “I’d really like Brett Favre to go away.

He replied, “So we want the Vikings to win?MK and I laughed and shook our heads. Sometimes I think S plays up his ignorance as a badge of honor, kind of the way I am blissfully unable to tell you the title of a single Jonas Brothers song.

We listened to the entirety of the game and still were not halfway home. I suppose I could complain about that, but instead, I have to admit that I was swimming in an ice pond of nostalgia. Frozen, frozen memories, snapshots. Technology, isn’t it great and all that, but sometimes, it’s nice to go backwards. Listening to the game on the radio was wonderful. Unlike S, I wasn’t watching our snail-like progress, or the pickup truck fishtailing in front of us. Instead, the announcers were painting beautiful pictures in my imagination. And radio announcers- I don’t know if they have different training, but they are exponentially superior to television announcers in calling games. I felt as though I watched every play.

Of course, it probably helped that MK told me of his favorite running gag this year, which has been to insert Brett Favre into everything. At first, it was confined to football, and he retold plays like “Here’s the snap, Brett Favre, play action fake to hand off the ball to Brett Favre, and now, oh, it’s a long pass to connect to… Brett Favre- touchdown, Brett Favre!” And then this progressed further into absurdity, such that Brett Favre basically became his personal Chuck Norris. For example- “I was worried about the economy, but I’m sure Brett Favre will take care of it.”

*


And finally, another song. An entire argument about me unfolded over the past week, and I didn’t even have to get involved in it, which was simultaneously ridiculous and hilarious. It was all about my social inclinations. One faction claimed I was a misanthropic hermit and that an intervention was necessary. The other faction argued that I just had a low tolerance for certain personalities and thus was just selective, and that I would emerge when circumstances allowed. A small renegade faction also voiced the minority opinion that I just enjoy being by myself and that I should just be left alone. I was supposed to rule on this and provide my verdict, but, as usual, I preferred to let resonance theory triumph.

Anyway, it and this past weekend made me remember this song.