A simple update

I am strangely exhausted.  This morning I tried to take my niece to the playground to wear her out so she’d take a nap early. The idea was to get her to the Chicago Children’s Museum during its free hours from 5-8.  The weather was like, “Ha! Y’all mofos need to stay were y’all at.” We slowly walked a few blocks. At times, the wind literally prevented her from moving forward and her little hands were red like she’d been throwing snowballs. We stopped for hot chocolate which she said she wanted, but then didn’t drink (she’s not human) then made our way back to her house. The morning did not go as planned.

I had a doctor’s appointment at the Travel Clinic so after I dropped her off I took the train downtown and got my shots, pills, and prescription for diarrhea meds while overseas. My arm hurts from the shots and this is all becoming very real; I’m going to Morocco. I’m going to be there for 30 days. This is my life.

Other than the events I just described I didn’t do much — oh, wait…I know why I’m tired. I just remembered like I’d blacked it all out. I won’t get into much detail, but my weariness is a result of emotional strain. It’s been a rough, and honestly childish, week and that can take a lot out of a 30-year old woman. I’ll just say that people are hard, and I’m pondering a life of narcissism. If I’m overly focused on myself then maybe I’ll forget everyone else and it won’t hurt so badly to deal with people. “Hell is other people.”

For now, I’ll focus on finishing up the curriculum for a training I’m facilitating this summer. That’s been fun and tiring as well.  It seems that my lifestyle as of late, is more depleting than restorative. What am I doing to replenish myself? Exercise replenishes me in a way because it’s good for me, but I’m not doing the exercise that makes me happy. I’m doing the exercise that is free and convenient, running. I don’t care too much for running. I miss skating derby, riding my bike through traffic in the city, and taking boxing classes at the boxing gym. I miss being able to hit things.   I think that may play a role in how quickly I imagined myself resorting to violence during an argument I had last week. Seriously, I experienced glee at the image of me choking someone out. Those that love me don’t understand how prone to violence I am. If there were awards for restraint, I’d be a Hall of Famer.  Hitting things keeps me in check. I began writing something last night that triggered a few tears.  Emoting that way was helpful, but not enough.

I need to figure out what is enough.

I’m so very tired.

I need to climb

Before I left Seattle my good friend over at Eat, Climb, Love taught me to climb outdoors.  If she didn’t have a life I’d try to climb with her every weekend. Well, actually every day but who wants to sound creepy? She’s gracious and fun, and super talented on the rock. When I get my residential school started I’m DEFINITELY going to try and recruit her to teach. 😉

I’ve wanted to become a bad ass climber for years. In fact, I bought myself a climbing carabiner years ago as a reminder. I used (and still use) it for my keys as a constant reminder to go climbing.  I don’t mind climbing indoors. It’s fine. My interests, however, are in outdoor climbing. I don’t want the safety of mats. I don’t want colorful handholds adorned with pretty tape. I want Mother Nature’s knuckles ready to bust me on my head or extend a friendly hand. I want to look down and see her bosom eagerly awaiting my impact.  I want to climb mountains like I did trees as a kid. When I’m done with that, I want to mountaineer.  Climbing Mt. Kilaminjaro has been on my “Do Before I Die” list since Semester at Sea in 2004.

I am fortunate to have been awarded the NOLS Gateway Partnership Scholarship. It’s helping pay for a 30-day Outdoor Educator Backpacking and Whitewater Canoeing course in Yukon Territory, Canada.  This will help me accomplish another of my goals which involves me mastering the art of maneuvering whitewater.  It will improve my skills as a practicing educator and enable me to sharpen my water skills. I would love, Love, LOVE to take a NOLS rock climbing course as well. During my search for rock climbing intensives I’ve yet to find a program willing to take me out for 10 or more days a time to focus on my climbing techniques. I’ve even been looking into classes offered at climbing gyms just to get practice.  The problem is, I no longer own a car, and any climbing gyms in or near where I live in Georgia are 6-10 miles away.  There’s also limited public transportation. I have to walk 4 miles through serpentine suburban roads with no sidewalk to get to a bus stop. It’s complicated and dangerous.

I feel restless because now that I have the time to dedicate to improving my work, I don’t have the resources. If any of you have any ideas as to how I can make any of these things happen please share with me.  In the meantime, I’ll keep doing research and keep my fingers crossed that I get the NOLS Southwest Fellowship applied for. There may be an opportunity for me to learn climbing in Arizona, and that’s just badass.

My trip from Chicago to Atlanta Part II

I, as well as most of you, suffer from the sickness of coveting the unavailable.  In my last post, My Trip from Chicago to Atlanta Part I, I introduced my journey and mentioned a cast of characters. I left off with mention of Patrick the celibate novice Jesuit on a 30-day pilgrimage.

My first thought of Patrick was, “Oh great, another White guy with a backpack who’s off to see America.”  As with Mitch, I purposefully ignored him.  When a man walked past with about three dollars worth of quarters asking us for change Patrick’s response of, “You probably have more than I do” made my brain gag and triggered a Liz Lemon eye roll for the ages. He stood there with his Arc’teryx ($$$$) backpack up against the wall reading some book I decided was Thoreau’s Walden and I was all Judgey McJudgerson.  I decided to ignore him because, after all, I was on a journey to make more Black friends.

I took my seat in the back and commiserated with the rest of the folk. That’s where I met Reginald the former truck driver turned landscape maintenance worker who was 57 and pretty flirty. There was a mother with her young child and one or two other people I don’t remember well.  They cracked jokes while I laughed. It was nice. After the bus drove into the bridge (no shit, that totally happened) I found myself talking to Mitch for awhile, but then Patrick came over and joined the conversation.

Everything was uneventful until we found ourselves in the lobby of a Memphis Econo Lodge at 2:30 in the morning with no place to sleep and a bus that wasn’t coming until 7:00am.  The shenanigans with the bus forced us to miss our connection.  We were stuck in Memphis.  If you’ve never traveled via Megabus then you don’t know that there is no terminal.  You catch the bus on the side of the street like public transportation and then you try to make your way to the front of the crowd like semen swimming through the fallopian tubes.  The city bus terminal in Memphis closes at 11:00pm and so we would’ve been chillin on the side of the road.

We were at the Econo Lodge because someone told someone that Megabus was going to put us up for the night to make up for everything that went wrong.  Well, there was no reservation for us.  We asked Terrence at the desk if we could wait in the lobby he, of course, said no.  Our bus driver also had to go because he needed to drive back to Chicago in the morning.  So we were going to be left at this Econo Lodge reservation or not. No one knew what to do so I stepped in.  It wasn’t on purpose I just did. I took the number for the bus driver’s supervisor and negotiated the room assignments and transportation back to the bus stop the next morning. Everyone thanked me for stepping up, but I didn’t see it that way. I could just tell that everyone was exhausted and I work well under pressure. It just seemed natural. I was able to laugh and stay light-hearted.  Patrick thanked me specifically for being a leader and taking care of the group.  Pretty sure the brown cheeks turned a little red.

The next morning — well, it wasn’t the next morning it was 3 hours later. I checked with the front desk to make sure that everyone got their wake up call, and was up to grab breakfast. Patrick and Reginald were not. I dropped off my belongings on the bus and ran through the hotel to get them.  It was comical. When we got to the bus I sat in the back and Patrick started to join me. Then he asked if I wanted to move to the front with him. Which, caught me off-guard. but I did.  I was flattered. I ended up in a seat alone and he sat in front of me. Reginald sat across from me while Mitch was a few seats behind.  We were like a little Megabus family. I loved it. Reginald and I talked about everything — race, being Black in America, Being Black in the outdoors, gardening, driving truck, lot lizards, the brakes cutting out on his rig– everything. He gave me his card and I’d love for him to the property manager on my farm someday. Patrick chimed in every once and awhile as did Mitch.

After our stop in Birmingham, Patrick stood up and asked me if I wanted to discuss economic independence and it’s convergence with rural cultures in the United States — or something to that effect. Those are my words, not his. I laughed a bit because no one asks me that then asked him if I could think about it because I didn’t know if I even had anything to contribute to the conversation. He said “Well, I need to know soon because if you say no, I’m going to get off the bus and start my journey from Birmingham instead of Atlanta.” I felt an enormous amount of pressure and then sputtered out a yes. He took his place next to me and our conversation began.

We talked about the Gullah people, the Jamaican Maroons, teaching economics in Sudan, our own lives. Our shoulders touched and thighs occasionally did the same.  He spent most of the trip from Memphis sleeping while I couldn’t sleep at all.  I grew tired and self-conscious. I snore like a grown ass grizzly and didn’t want that to happen right next to this person on whom I was crushing pretty hard. At times, we were quiet. I stared out of the window and relaxed into the left side of him. Comfortable. I was comfortable just being with him. Normalcy embraced me. I slept sporadically. Occasionally I awoke with my head leaning on his seat and froze. He was a stranger and I damn near fell asleep on him. I don’t think he minded. Oh the butterflies.

I asked about his pilgrimage and he touched briefly on some pieces and longer on others. He mentioned that this was so he could determine whether or not he was going to pursue this way of life permanently. If so, he wouldn’t be able to have a family or many worldly belongings. Because if tragedy occurs, he had to be able to drop everything and go. Attachments prevent that. Of course, I grew more attracted. Butterflies, again. He talked about how the Jesuits have a code and he admired that. I admired him for seeking out standards by which to live. He offhandedly mentioned a relationship he’d been in for 3 years and he thought was serious. I wanted to ask if that prompted his pursuit of this life, but didn’t. Too soon.  I relaxed further into him and was astonished at my comfort.

I haven’t been attracted to someone in a very long while and welcomed the reminder that I existed. That all parts of me still functioned and that I could do this thing — fall for someone again. It was nice.

When we arrived in Atlanta we retrieved our belongings from the bus and walked together for a bit. I didn’t want to say goodbye, but we did. With our hippie backpacker backpacks nestled comfortably over our spines we hugged and went our separate ways. I my walk to my destination and couldn’t stop thinking of him.

It’s been almost a month and I’ve thought of him plenty since we parted. On the bus he asked for my card so he has my contact information. He said he’d email after the pilgrimage. He couldn’t before that because he wouldn’t have access to a phone or computer.  I wonder if he will. I hope he will.  There are approximately three days until his 30-days is up … it’s not long, but it feels the opposite. Regardless, I’m enjoying the feeling of flight and life inside myself.  It’s long overdue, and more than welcome.