Thursday, May 15, 2003

How did I get here?

(This entry comes with pictures, big, beautiful pictures, pictures that make you want to weep with joy and break your heart and give you warts. These are powerful pictures! They are pictures you will never forget, fall in love with, and want to marry. Gooood pictures. However, I can't include those pictures with this entry... because, well, I'm stupid. You need to know a little "html" in order to do it and, well, I don't know a little "html"... I'm lucky if I know a little "h"! So, if you happen to know some "html" and think you can help me, then please write me at and let me know. Until then... imagine pretty pictures. Aren't they nice? Or you can write me at and request the pictures and I'll be happy to send you some. Isn't that special?)

(And now... our story...)

I went hiking on Saturday. Down the Ortega Highway, I drove Saturday morning, arriving at just before 7am. It was pretty darned cold. I mean, for the first hour or so, I could see my own breath!! But I went, anyway. The idea was to go on a long hike. I went alone because, well, I am pretty much the only one dumb enough to go on a long hike. Most other people would, oh, have breakfast, watch some TV... enjoy themselves. Me? I was looking for a little masochistic "ME" time!

Rosa and I had taken this hike only once before. I didn't know why. It was quite beautiful. I wish you could see it. Some kind of image reproduction... a kind of "picture", if you will, would be really helpful right now. The trail went past waterfalls, around a large hill, and down to a creek where Rosa and I had sat to eat. I did just that, feeling her near. Then, the trial crossed the creek and went up and down and up and down (etc, etc, etc) through hills and glens, overgrown trees and undergrowth. Actually, there wasn't much of a trail at all but I followed it. Up ahead, was a point where I had protected Rosa from a rattle snake... there were no rattlers that day. Nor were there any mountain lions, I know because I kept looking! (Imagine Don Knotts hiking...)

When I crossed another creek, it was time to head uphill again... and what a climb. What I didn't know - I wouldn't find this out until after I got home - was that I was going 12 miles out and up nearly 800 feet.

Say it with me: "OUCH!"

No wonder Rosa and I only did this hike once! Now, I'm not going to lie to you; I was in my share of pain as a result of this: feet, legs, hips... no fun. But I needed it. I needed something to strip away the dull ache of being denied Rosa's presence.

What better to strip away a dull ache than a profound ache, right?

After heading up the hill, and going around three or four others, I reached my destination: another set of waterfalls. No one was around and I had my pick of any of the enormous boulders next to the falls upon which to stretch out and enjoy my lunch. Ah, lunch: one Balance Bar and a snack pack of Cheetos. Oh, and plenty of water. Yum!

After eating, I stretched out and couldn't help thinking, "How the hell did I get here?"

The response was immediate. "Ken? You walked."

"Yes. I know that. I mean how did I get to this point in my life?"

"Oh. That. Well, shucks... a lot of things, I guess."

"I divorced my one, true love."

"And you wrote plays about it."

"And I made a million and one mistakes."

"And you made new friends."

"And I've wasted so much time."

"And you learned a thing or two."

Eventually, my overactive brain took a break. I watched the water fall. I watched the pond beneath. I watch the hawks (or so I supposed they were) rise and coast on the thermals. And I realized, "If anything finds me here alone - like, say, a mountain lion - I'm lunch."

It didn't take too long to gather my things and start heading back. Afternoon was approaching in it's full - and very warm - glory. My legs were sore. I had to get back.

How did I get there? If I knew, if there was some clear way I could change it so I could be somewhere else, like at Rosa's side, I'd change it in a second without thinking about it. Sadly, though, there is no way to go back and fix things. How did I get there? Maybe I didn't. Oh, sure, I ended up there and, yes, it was my doing. But so many things had so many consequences and related to so much else in my life that I fell like I didn't so much get there as I was gotten there. We don't get anywhere in our lives. It is our past selves who move us. Living in the present, we are captives of our consequences. (MUST write that down!)

Obviously, I did make it to my car. I got there at noon. I'd been gone for five hours and I was shocked at how evenly the time had worked out. I got out of there and drove back to the 5 freeway. The 5 was stop and go traffic. Stop and go. Stop and go. The guy in front of me stopped. I stopped. The guy in front of me started. I started. The guy in front of me stopped. (Feel like you've heard this before? Wait!) I stopped.

The guy in back of me, who was coming from quite a distance back, didn't notice that we'd stopped. As he approached, I thought, "He's going to hit me." I couldn't go anywhere because the guy in front of me was stopped. The guy behind me slammed on his brakes - his tires screeched - I braced myself - BAM!

His car was totaled. My car was hurt but drivable. I'm fine.

But I couldn't help but wonder what was going through this poor kids head, this poor guy who, at about 19 years old, had just bought this, his first car, from his parents one week before. Was he thinking, "How the hell did I get here?"

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