Sunday, August 3, 2014

At the top

I keep thinking about last year, where we were in the day by day of moving from there to here. I remember eating sweet potato tots on a patio restaurant in South Dakota on the 3rd of July. I remember the sudden swoosh of a Montana road, the butterflies, the shock of color, cliffs and craned necks.

When we drove into Alaska for the very first time, I hadn't put a name to the face of the mountain that made me marvel, not even as we posed in front of it. Denali. McKinley.

I've seen it now a hundred times, maybe more. All it takes is a clear day, and there it is--white against blue--popping up in the second mile of my go-to running route.
Sometimes we take a day trip to get even closer, to skip rocks and peer across the river at 20,000 unfathomable feet.

When friends ask, I tell them we're happy here. We are. Though at times this Alaskan life feels like a caricature, like my husband bringing home salmon he pulled from a net in the Kenai is only playing to the stereotype. Now all that's left is to buy an RV and a husky named Nome. (I admit it--I do want a husky!)

But not interestingly enough, I still manage to be a cliched suburban soccer mom in the last frontier. My car is filthy from carpooling and cleats, and I am carting kids everywhere like my life depends on it. It doesn't. What would happen if I woke up and decided that we could skip soccer practice and medical release forms and gymnastics and school registration and all-women's road races and all the things that keep me driving and running to and fro?
Maybe we'd play a game of scrabble in the middle of the day or drink pink lemonade from the good china tea cups. Maybe we'd go camping, forget dinner and fill up on potato chips and s'mores. That wouldn't be the end of the world.
Maybe it'd be the start of it. 
(For the record, we did all that, and the only regret was not bringing more chips.)

My son loves to skateboard, and I think he's nuts. My daughter loves to play dolls and dress up in frills, and I don't get it, not even a little bit. I love to run so fast it hurts like bloody hell, and no one in the family--not even me--gets that either. But we're all here, doing our thing.

Sometimes, I drag them on a hike to the top of a mountain, and the whole way up is torture. She whines about her legs hurting. And he whines about slowing down for her. And I whine about how much they're whining. And then we get to the top.

And at the top, we get amnesia. We have no idea how our legs got so tired. There's no record of the bickering/whining/dragging of grumpy arses up an unrelenting switchback.
At the top, we use every one of our five senses to taste smell feel hear see the view.
At the top, the trees look so tiny, and is that the forest?
At the top, I shed my status as a stereotype and target demographic. I'm just a person, with my people. And we are all the best kind of alive, at the top.

{Just writing today with Heather.}