June 25, 2003

don’t ask her what it was

So. I’ve been here over a month, already. The skunk that usually goes off right outside my window at this time of night has become old-hat. I’ve grown accustomed to Hood River; to Oregon; to the Wild Wild West; to being away from home and family and friends.

And now that I’m getting used to my surroundings I have to make sure I don’t become jaded to the things around me. I think newness is a beautiful thing. It inspires us, keeps us fresh, and brings about that unsettling experience that keeps us honest human beings. But at the same time, familiarity has its own perks as well. When the novelty of living away from home, of living with a Japanese roommate, of windsurfing every day, etc… when that all wears off, it leaves room for substance and content.

I can smell the nuance in daily life. That’s something I feel I learned from summer camp; discovering ways to keep myself fresh and inspired in a stressful environment, where developing a routine could easily come as a mere survival method.

So that’s where I am now; boosting familiarity while maintaining that early excitement. I still stare down the Gorge in awe, looking west into the crowns of angry dark clouds boiling through the hills; clouds that never seem to make it into town. All I can think is an articulate, “Wow.” I am still floored that I’ve got the opportunity to live here, to work here, to play here. A soul can grow in the fertile volcanic soils beneathe Mount Hood. I feel I can breathe, here.

But then, that’s not to curse home, to cast Minnesota to the dirt. I love Minnesota, and I suppose I loved it enough to realize I needed to leave. I needed to cast aside that filter to see how much of what I see is myself, is my environment, is my reality. I approach this all as an experiment. I’m testing things out, seeing what holds substance and what does not.

I love home, I miss home and my friends. I find myself missing silly familiar things that I didn’t really appreciate at the time. My roommate Hal making up stupid songs on his guitar, Doug inviting his freshman harem over to the apartment, or Ryan offering me bottles of his expensive-yet-nasty beer. These are all things that irked me at the time, or just fell neutral across my brain, that now summon up strong feelings that say, “This is how it was.”

And that was how it was, and I can never go back there again. That is the scariest and most exciting thing I’ve realized on this adventure. Before I left I was talking to my mother about it, how it might be nice to swing back up into Duluth and shoot the shit around the yellow Wooch! table, again.

Even that will never be exactly the same. Me and my fellow Woochers can trade jokes, both old and new, and recount current and past adventures, but never again will we be able to share undergraduate gripes. I’m outside out that, now, and I can’t turn around and put myself back in.

I can’t become the person I was, but I can become the person I will be. Same goes for reality. It’ll never again be the way it was, but it will inevitably be the way it is.

Don’t ask her what it was. Tell her what it is.

Nasty is such a relative term… How could anyone say such mean things about any beer? Much less one so good and wholesome as London Pride. I think I’ll go now and hide the pain in the vat of processed Guiness I call my shoulder…

Well, I wasn’t going to go so far as to name any names, but now you’ve gone on ahead and done that. While I was writing I thought of London Pride, specifically. It tastes like it is burned. It tastes like it is burned camel piss.
As Tom used to always say, “It’s hard to get a camel to piss in a bottle, that’s why it costs so much!”