Friday, July 29, 2016

Here.

I used to think that staying in one place was boring and ordinary. How did people do it, I wondered. Wasn't it like..settling? So I moved for decades, rarely settling anywhere for very long. Along the way I had some great adventures; I wouldn't trade them for the financial security that still eludes me. And, recently, I applied for the kind of job I always wanted: managing the wilderness for a well-known national park. After my long hike, I came home and withdrew my application.

It turns out that hiking two hundred miles solo is good for figuring things out. Among other things, I realized that I really didn't want to move again. After living in eleven different states as an adult, moving on has lost its allure.

We lost another of our dogs this week, this time sweet, happy Sierra. Pets are the only creatures you can really love unconditionally. People say they love their partners that way, but what they really mean is that they love them unconditionally as long as the other person behaves in a way that is understandable and acceptable to them. But Sierra loved J like that, once walking off the tread on her paws without complaining to keep up on a brutal 12 mile hike. The week she died, she gamely trotted behind his bike. She tried to rally after her emergency surgery, just like she always had when we dragged her on long hikes. She tried so hard. She wanted to live so much, even if it meant in the same yard, the same trails, the same people. You can learn a lot from a dog.

Cale, Sierra, Aluco. Only Cale is left.
We went down to the riverbank where the other pets--Wilkie, Aluco, Smoke--are buried. J dug a hole for Sierra. It was painful to watch. Afterwards I went and put my feet in the water. Another season had rolled around, another year of belonging to a place. I realized I wanted this. I wanted a history. I wanted to be able to come back to the place our pets slept. I wanted to hike up to the same lakes. It's not boring to love a place, and it's not boring to stay. Change can sometimes be overrated.

I looked at the clear water beneath my feet and let it go, a dream that had become frayed around the edges. I was staying here, and it looked like forever. For the first time, it felt really good to believe this. A weight I had been carrying around a long time floated away, the need to have big adventures every day, to always be traveling. It's not settling. It's finally coming home.


18 comments:

  1. This is wonderful and heartfelt. We are grateful we got to meet Sierra and sorry for her loss, and yours.

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    1. I feel so bad for her, it was just kind of a random and freak thing.

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  2. Sorry again Mary for the loss of another one of your sweet kids.
    S and I still haven't made the decision with our old Abby girl, we haven't quite crossed over the line of being selfish but we are not far from it. So glad you have decided to stick around, I hope to meet you on the trails someday.....

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    1. It's hard to know but with the last three pets it was obvious what had to happen. Hope to cross paths also.

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  3. This post is beautiful....so sorry for your loss...but happy you've come to a decision that brings you some peace.

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    1. It's actually a huge relief to make this decision!

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  4. WOW, so much wisdom from that hike. Congrats, you are going to live life more fully now that your not seeking that somewhere or something else. Keep doing those things during your extended time off, but coming home, living at home is a grand and comforting thing.

    Sending you lots of pet empathy love and hugs.

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    1. Yes, apparently hiking 26 mile days can bring more than just sore feet....and I'll be planning some travel!

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  5. It is a real treasure to find the place...and the people...that is home. Knowing your life, there will be grand adventures in your future. Having a place to come home to will make those adventures even sweeter.

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    1. As long as I can avoid the dreaded superiority complex some people over share with about their home. As in, this one town is the only best place. I know there are lots of great places.

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  6. Great writing and so sorry for your loss. Dogs are special creatures.

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    1. Thank you, I agree, they aren't "just dogs".

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  7. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. Having just lost my own dog earlier this year, I know exactly how you feel.

    In my opinion, settling down and staying in one place is not a bad thing at all. Especially the wonderful area where you live!

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    1. It's definitely something only those who have pets can understand. I can't imagine not having them, though.

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  8. I love having a home base, a place that is mine. with memories, and best friends, especially furry ones. Thank you for this post.
    Naomi from Kimberley

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    1. I loved traveling and moving every few years, but I am over it now!

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  9. Beautiful post. There is a lot to be said for 'home'. I still miss mine and hope to eventually find another.

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  10. I am so sorry for you. And I am glad you discovered clarity on your hike; they are so good for that! I think someday I will long to stop moving. For now, this still works and feels like home.

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