Funny how a few simple paragraphs in an email from an old friend can be transcendent, words transformed into elegies for what they signify, words that are metaphors of memory: for love and happiness and pain. Everything becomes measured by tangible markers of time, so we will always remember where we have been, where we are, and where we will go. Eleven years ago, I first arrived. Seven years ago, I watched the trees fade into the darkness behind me as I left The Mountain for the last time, a life permanently, irrevocably, altered. Four years later, and three years since that I closed my eyes and realized all my dreams of the forest were real, if but for the briefest of moments. I should have lingered there much longer, long enough to memorize again the shape and meaning of the forest. As much as I knew that part of my life couldn’t last forever (forever always seems too long for me anyway), hardly a day goes by that I don’t still, always, long for those days, the mountains, the forest, the people. It was a time when I could be as self-centered as I liked, with hardly a thought toward a future of any kind, because I was young and it simply didn’t matter. I even find myself longing now for all the horrible memories I have of those years, just to be able to return to that time. I can honestly say that there have been only a handful of perfectly happy moments in my life, moments when everything feels magical and amazing and perfect and just as it should be. My first season in sequoia is one of them. No matter how much time passes it remains an inextricable part of me. I would not be who I am now without having been there, without having been forever changed by the experience.
I tell my friend: It would be lovely to one day be able to show you all the many places I have loved here — even the place which long ago held the pay telephone where I would stand in the dark stillness of Sierra nighttime and whisper your name.
letting go of all
hopes for a better past.