I found refuge in the handicap stall in the ladies’ restroom. I chuckled to myself as I crouched with my journal and pen to write about something. “Something” is trying to find my feelings that I had lost touch with, because I’ve been so busy keeping up with maintaining a life.
In the last few blogs during my round of blogging I hinted at being in “survival mode”. Well I got deeper into it. I’ve been slogging through hell. (“When you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill.)
Then an awakening happened, and it was that I had become this mentality of being a victim of circumstance. The awareness of this made me immediately stop on my tracks. I stopped to consider what’s really important, then ask ‘Where am I going?’
Around this time, a friend from Vancouver, texted me. He said he wanted to summit Golden Ears, and I was the only one he knew who was willing to do it. That is true. I’m crazy enough to do a ten to twelve hour hike into the woods without much training. I had been living a semi-sedentary life of a desk job and imbibing on French cheese, baguette and wine, and minimal exercise. I was ready. I went for it and proceeded to book my flight, request for the time off, and asked a good man to take care of my dog.
I land in Richmond, home to Vancouver’s International Airport. It was renovated prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics and its look and feel is about nature. Passengers deplane and walk through a simulated rain forest (recording of streaming waters, bird calls, mild humidity from fake and real plants, wooden seagulls and stuffed animals) en route to the Immigration queue. All this is familiar to me as I’ve gone home to Vancouver many times to renew my US visa since I decided to move to LA. I miss home and yet I choose to live in LA. It’s confusing.
It’s probably for this reason why I’ve allowed myself to seep into the mentality of being a victim. I’m uncertain of what I want and allowed life to happen rather than making life happen. It makes sense to me as I let the words spill onto this page without masking my feelings.
At the Budget rental office I’m rewarded with the luck of upgrading my rental car from an economy car to a convertible Mini Cooper for a reasonable cost. I go for it. I cruise into the jewel of the Pacific Northwest with the top down. The cool wind and bright fall colors suffuse my senses…. Ahhhhh… I’m home. My first stop is the Bikram Yoga studio on
Commercial Drive (the neighborhood I use to remember as artsy and bohemian that’s woven with modern urban amenities: there’s a Starbucks and Waves tucked between the multitude of family owned stores and Italian and Portuguese cafes. The yoga studio is across from the old standby “Joe’s Café” (the owner was a former bullfighter in Portugal, and he still serves the cappuccinos with a warm greeting and smile.)
After a good sweat, I’m ready to be a tourist in my hometown. So much has changed, and yet there are still the familiar standbys like the Purdy’s Chocolate Factory. That was my next stop. Already, I’m shopping for goodies to take back to LA and also to give away to friends and family in Vancouver. It’s the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend after all, and I was
feeling generous. I spend the next two days between visiting friends and family and another yoga session. The yoga was the only prep I had done for the hike. At least, in my mind, I can sweat out the toxins and stretch my body.
The hike to Golden Ears was on Thanksgiving Day (the 1st Monday of October). It took almost 12 hours, and my friend and I got to his truck at 7:30 pm when the sky was already lit with stars. We traversed through various terrains including wooded forests, alpine meadows and dry creek beds. 12 hours in the womb of nature is what I needed to recharge my battery and ground me to what’s important to me – to simply be happy. A walk in the woods makes me very happy. Spending time with an old friend makes me happy. Watching 2 kids play street hockey in an empty recess ground makes me happy. Chocolate makes me happy. Multi-hued leaves on the trees and on the ground makes me happy. Geese crossing the street makes me happy.
When the resistance is strongest; when I’m feeling up against the wall day in and day out, I really have to make the effort to consciously choose to be happy. I think of the simplest joys I can make for myself and realize that that it does not take much to make me happy.
I land back in LAX the next evening. I am waiting at the curbside for my boyfriend. The whizzing and weaving airport traffic with the LA dry and cool evening weather makes the serenity of the last three days appear as an illusion. A woman who was on the same flight waits for her ride too. She turns to me and says, ‘Welcome to LA.’ I nod knowingly and we have a brief conversation about the contrasts of living in LA and Vancouver. We agreed that we are here for a reason, though it’s not “home”. Our rides arrive at the same time. My boyfriend greets me so warmly my heart melts. I’m home too. It’s not a cliché. Home is where the heart is.