Monthly Archives: April 2013

Flaming Hot Ice Guardian of Tacoma

I’m here on the other side of the country  (Tacoma, WA) for a week to visit my best friend.  It’s been magical so far, and I’m really really sad that I’m leaving in two days.  The forest here is beautiful.  Apparently this area was where they filmed Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.  I suppose that would be neat, except I’ve never seen the movie, which isn’t surprising really because it wasn’t all that popular or well known.  And there’s a volcano in the backyard.  An icy, snow-covered one at that.

Mt. Rainier! It will kill you if it gets a chance.

(photo courtesy of the national park–click the pic for their site) 

Mt. Rainier looms over the whole place like some sort of silent ice guardian.  Which is completely awesome, except for the fact that it is also a very active volcano that is just waiting to blow up.  There are volcano evacuation signs here.  I kid you not.

We drove up the mountain to Paradise, a base camp of sorts complete with a visitor’s center and a lodge.  Nothing was open because everything is still completely buried in snow.

Closed due to obscene amounts of snow.

Closed due to obscene amounts of snow.

We got fairly close to the top, but we couldn’t see it because the snow and the sky all seemed to blend together.  It was like standing in a great vast field of whiteness, some sort of great circle of oblivion that would wash you white along with it if you weren’t careful. We watched the skiers and the hikers with their gear and decided that this mountain was unforgiving.  Our cells had no service and one wrong move in the wrong direction would leave us stranded with nobody around to hear us.  It was raw beauty, fascinating, dangerous, and terrifying all in one.

We would never survive here.

We would never survive here.

In the visitor bathrooms (mercifully left unlocked for us), there was a notice asking people to keep an eye out for a group of missing hikers or their equipment.  They’d been missing for over three months.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget that nature is perfectly capable of crushing us dead.

Snow River

Which is why I like going off into semi-safe places in nature.  It reminds me that we’re painfully mortal, but that we can be pretty persistently amazing too.  People scale to the top of dangerous places and make it down alive.  I get so comfortable in my own safe little nest in the world that I forget how wildly dangerous and beautiful the rest of it can be.

With Age Comes Wisdom and Understanding—and also the knowledge that everyone is hideously hypocritical and judgmental.

They say that your life is your own, that you make your own choices.  I question the truth in that idea.  I have always been bound by the expectations of others, I’ve never felt truly free to make my own decisions.

I must live my life.  I must stop letting my family dictate what I can and cannot do and start letting my own heart and mind choose for me.

I decided (finally) that I was an adult and could look after myself, thank you.

But that creates another dilemma…

Because now that I am choosing my path, I feel compelled to keep it secret.  Because I still feel like I need the approval of a bunch of Southern Baptists who get offended so easily over the most stupid of things.  Because I need the love of a demographic that is hateful and judgmental and I just don’t know if them being my family will cancel out that inbred need to have the perfect Christian family when I choose to do something they don’t like.

I’ve watched the community that has been with us for nearly two decades turn its back on my brother because he’s going through some stuff right now. I’ve watched family turn their back on him, say things like “I don’t want my child going over to your house because he’s there.”  He’s been skipping school and drinking on the weekends. There was also a little pot involved.  I’m pretty sure it isn’t contagious, and I’m also sure that none of the drinking or smoking happens here at home.  Do you think that your child will somehow become an alcoholic and a stoner at ten years of age because she was within ten feet of my brother?

My cousin can’t find a church to go to because all of them house people who look down on her for the mistakes she made when she was a teenager.  Her own parents have cut her off–they won’t even help her get a loan so she can go to college.

This is conditional love, guys, and it’s not right.  Newsflash: ostracizing people when they make mistakes isn’t cool.  I’m not saying you should waltz up and say that drinking and smoking illegally are wonderful life choices.  And I understand that you may be nervous around the people making these mistakes.  But just because their choices scare you doesn’t mean you get to be douche-nuggets about it.

All this happening around me is making me worry for my own future. How the hell am I supposed to live my own life in the midst of all this two-faced judgment and shame?

It’s like the only reason I’ve gotten this far in life is because I’ve toed the line and done what was expected of me.  One wrong move and BAM!  There goes all the support you’ve relied on your whole life.

Sigh. It’s complicated and simple and the whole thing just reinforces my growing belief that at the end of the day the only person you can really count on is yourself.