I spent hours last weekend talking to some amazing guys. Two men in particular Dan, a supporter of “Save the Peshastin Mill Waterfront” and Jeff an adventurous, goal-setter who just finished a six-month thru hike on the Pacific Crest Trail were especially inspiring and talkative. I enjoyed very much listening to them share what they know. Their stories, their passion and willingness to do things and protect the land were inspirational, invigorating and enlightening. I am humbled that men like these would give time to an inquisitive soul such as my own. They patiently answered my questions about their passions and accomplishments. Their stories and actions are worthy of being told and here is my little attempt to honor the things they have done and are still doing (although there will be more than just this about my PCT traveling friend).
On Saturday I attended an informational potluck to save the Peshastin Mill Waterfront. http://www.savepeshastinmillwaterfront.org/ This ¾ mile stretch of riverfront property is the last, longest piece of property that could be publicly owned along the Wenatchee River. Lacey Price coordinated and hosted an exquisite night of community gathering and information sharing about the Complete the Loop Coalition's vision to purchase the land and keep it available to the public in perpetuity. I came prepared for the event with my trusty notebook of questions which I had spent the last two weeks formulating with the help of other community members. In the end Bob Parlette was able to answer most of my questions about the Coalition's vision for the property, but Dan, probably because we were both helping at the ticket table all night, was the one who shared the most.
Dan is a retired veteran and I think he has an energy level that rivals my own. He has a knowledge base about our community and the piece of land in question that left me awed. He was quick and ready in second to answer any question anyone had about the project. Dan grew up fishing the very stretch of property that the Coalition is trying to preserve for the public. He is so passionate about keeping the area accessible that he devotes time, energy and service to save the land. For himself? No, not really. It was obvious in talking to him that he's a visionary. He is there for future generations as much as himself. He sees their need to have primitive lands to enjoy and is willing to sacrifice pieces of himself for them. It was an honor to spend that time in the presence of a man of his character.
Then came Sunday and a phone call that lasted nearly three and a half hours and still could have gone on longer. Treehouse, that's his trail name, finished hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail earlier this year. He's young full of life, strength and passion to see the world and test the limits of his own body. More than that, he sets goals and sticks to them. Not only has this guy hiked the PCT, he was the fifteenth person to circumnavigate Florida… in a kayak! The enthusiasm in his voice as he talked about his adventures and plans was palpable. For the second time in as many days I was in awe of a man and his deeds.
Like the older gentlemen of the night before, Treehouse is a man of action. He sets his mind to something and does it. His execution of the hike took a little longer than he planned but he made all 2600 miles of the trip and had some fun “side-trips” as well. Throughout the conversation he deflected compliments, humbly stating that adventure seeking was just what he did. But it's not just what he does. Treehouse also works with high-risk youth in middle grades. He is eager to share his passion and love of nature with a younger generation… and with older people like me. He had an answer for almost every question I asked and shared so many stories from along the trail.
The story of his trip down Mather Pass speaks to how quickly the weather can change everything about your plan. It was cold at the top… too cold and a storm had blown in with thunder and lightening. He was ready to come down as quickly as he could so he started to blaze a trail straight down the mountain instead of using the switchbacks that would take too much time to traverse. Treehouse said he seldom hiked without music in his ears (he admits he's especially fond of 80s ballads) and he had the volume up loud as he plowed down the trail. Through the blaring music, he thought he heard heavy thunder but when he turned to look back, he realized it was more than just noise. As best he can tell, the force of the thunder must have shaken some rocks loose and he had to take refuge behind a boulder while mountain flung debris down.
I am grateful for every story and minute he gave. He shared his experiences with me and now I know more about trail magic and the physical and mental challenges I'll face when I go someday. More than that I was struck once again at what an honor it was to spend time with a man of action. They are all around me, young men like Treehouse, working to conquer daring physical and mental feats; making me feel like an old mother listening to stories I would be proud to hear my own son tell someday. They are older, like Dan, and the Coalition board members, working to conquer commercialism and consumerism that might forever rob the world of primitive land; making me feel like I was twenty again with their comments about “young people” my age.
Not only were these weekend conversations enlightening, they were a contrast of age and ways to leave a mark on the world and also a confirmation of what I have been learning this year. Good men are active and present everywhere, they are respectable and honorable, they do things and are passionate about what they believe … and they are humble. They will not bring honor to themselves even though they are so deserving of it. And so… they have graciously allowed me the opportunity to talk about their adventures and plans and I hope I have done them all justice. Cheers to the men of my weekend!"
In the last three weeks I've had as many people ask me what has brought about the change in my shape/dedication to fitness/motivation and the quick “funny” answer is always, “Well … I don't want to be single forever, so I want to look good.” It's a joke, mostly. I mean there's truth in the statement but it's not my motivation.
My real motivation has been simmering inside me for my whole life. But I'll save that one for last because there are actually several reasons behind my recent hyper-focus on fitness.
Reason #1: Survival
It was apparent when I got left like useless trash on the curb that this rejection, if I let it, would wreck me. I was devastated and knew I could quite possibly fall apart and lose all of the years clean I have and all the hard work the Good LORD and I have put into redeeming my life from the pit I once called home. I was ready to throw things, break things, use things to get relief from the feeling of once again being that person no one wanted. I was ready to lose my reputation, my dream that was starting to take shape, my kids, my self respect, everything.
See for me I can't curl up and die ('cept for that one Thursday, that day I was ready… but I'm still here aren't I?). I'm not made to be still. I've got more energy than I know what to do with and though I tend toward depression my depression isn't “stop functioning depression,” it's a “mindless-doing” kind of depression. I'm like one of those little wind-up cars that gets squirrely all around the room bumping into things but never quite gets anywhere. I lack the ability to make decisions and am aimless and that combination usually leads to… well, not good choices.
I couldn't write much, I couldn't focus on my volunteer obligations or really even do much with my kids but I was all wired up. I knew I had to do something with my energy, or it was going to make me self-destruct. So... I sent it to CrosSport and the loop! If I didn't know what to do at lunch, I knew there was a WOD waiting for me. If I couldn't stomach being home alone all those hours after I got off work, I knew I could go to the gym and take some time and see friendly faces while I worked off the energy. I knew it was a better alternative than other choices I could make. I made it my energy outlet. Not to look good enough to get him back, I knew he was gone after May 22nd, not to look good enough to get someone else… simply to keep my energy focused in a positive direction.
Reason #2: The Leaving didn't matter there
This one is a little more selfish and maybe mean and that's why I actually haven't shared it until now, except with one person. CrosSport and the loop were and still are all mine. He never had a part of my life in either place which meant the rejection couldn't hurt me there. I am no less a person at the gym than I ever was. I'm not missing a piece of me there, my history on the loop and at CrosSport is only mine. It didn't have to change because he left. I didn't have to figure out how to walk in and show my face there the way I did at other places “we” went together. The gym was all mine. It was like a blankie… that smelled like sweat and sounded like rock 'n roll. The gym is safe, the loop is steady. I like security and I liked knowing they didn't change like everything else had to.
Reason #3: I'm doing it to see what my body is capable of
This one is even MORE selfish. I'm doing it for me! I grew up in a herd of fit, active boys, and with a dad who coached wrestlers. Our Gramma liked to keep us busy. “Many hands make light work” you know! As the ONLY girl I was always weaker, slower and never the one that got asked to do laborious stuff. I was … what's the word oh yeah… the reject of the group! Yep, that was me. So, I never pushed myself, because I knew I couldn't hold a candle to them no matter how hard I tried. I never knew what strength was inside me. And then I made myself go to the gym instead of go off on a downward spiral and the by-product was strength and ability like I'd never known. I have always liked to move but I realized I was good at it. More than that I have embraced what a gift my body is and how precious and this time in my life is. There are many with health and physical limitations who cannot ever do what I do at the gym. I have a co-worker, and friend who is wheelchair bound, she doesn't let it get her down but it is a limitation. I don't have that restriction to my movements, why not celebrate it? And for that matter, I might as well celebrate now because I know I can't flip a #4 tire when I'm 100... if the LORD allows me to even be here that long. Right now, in this moment in my brief, fleeting life, I am fit, I am strong and I am better every day than I was the day before. I don't compete with the other ladies at the gym who are far out of my league. I don't compare myself to those I might be stronger or faster than. It's me, it's my demons, it's myself I challenge and I am better than. I want to know what I'm made of, capable of. I know I'm in the best shape of my life.
I wish I could have realized I'm made to move before this time in my life, but I'm here now, and I know, despite the resiliency, that I'm still healing. I know I'm a little in survival mode yet and I know I need the safety of the gym and predictability of the loop but it's turning more into a lifestyle choice than a survival tactic, and I love the health and wellness lifestyle. It suits me.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I've turned into a gym rat.
The question is… what did I get myself into? The answer is I'm still not quite sure. I Should have hopped in my car and road-tripped it over to visit my cousin who was only here for her baby bro's wedding. I should have done the family thing but my boys were not keen on the drive and, you know what they say, idle hands are the devil's playground...
I wrote for a while then let my hands be still. Scarlet and Rusty's story is hot and I love it but, as with all the love stories in this series, there is a social cause I'm trying to bring awareness to. This story's social cause is childhood molestation and its tough to write, turns my stomach and gets me angry. That, coupled with the fact that I use the Pomodoro Technique when I write lends itself to frequent breaks from the story. Sundays are my day off of social media so… I checked in on a favorite new past-time of mine… “missed connections” on craigslist!
Calm down before you get all upset, or concerned I was not looking for myself. It's strictly entertaining. With that said I have no problem with online dating but I assure you if the time comes to go there I will not be using craigslist, no offense to anyone who does, but that's a little too redneck even for me. (And yes, as a planner I already have the time to start dating online planned out... if that whole 'real-life' dating thing doesn't work out for me in its due time)
Anyway I LOVE the missed connections on craigslist. I first found out about them after the leaving, but before the moving because of a morning radio spoof on my commute into work. Before then I had no idea how entertaining craigslist can be. These precious posts, written in a moment of hope or desperation were totally cracking me up. Since then I find great joy in surfing all the major craigslist city sites for missed connections. Some are creepy stalker-ish. Some are obviously people who are way too into themselves and are convinced a random person they don't know would remember the red shirted person that looked their fine a** up and down at the Texaco! My point is they are simply adorable and the words written in passion deserve to be read and appreciated.
Yesterday, I looked through them again, hitting the local section first, because you never know what kind of local love connection can happen over a craigslist missed connection. There is an ulterior motive for reading them too, someday, I will write a craigslist missed connection love story. I have it mostly roughed out in my brain, just need to get the words out. But I digress… back to my story, I bet you're expecting me to say I found me in a missed connection aren't you? Wouldn't that just be ironic, the one person NOT looking for themselves but simply appreciating the words and passion finds herself the center of one of them. Yeah, well that's fiction, it didn't happen. What did happen is the point of this comeback post. I exhausted the local missed connections and I remembered a conversation I recently had with someone who also peruses the craiglist personals. I promise I have NEVER looked at them except the missed connections… before yesterday that is. But you know, I was bored, I needed reprieve from a particularly hard scene I was writing and I am single and officially calling myself available now so I did a really dumb thing and I looked at more than the missed connections.
Again… I should have driven the car to the cuz! I should have looked at Seattle or New York's missed connections but no, I looked at local personals. I justified it to myself by calling it research though and to prove I was “researching” here are my findings so it doesn't seem too depraved or desperate of me to be snooping around on craigslist's personal section. Here's what I found: women are a lot less likely to post an ad than men, sorry guys if you're looking for your honey on CL she's not there, but there are a handful of women in their 50s looking for love... Men outnumber the ladies approximately 3 to 1 and most of them want a picture of you to know it's not a spambot, mmmmhmmm. Also, strictly platonic is a lie. I'm pretty sure no one knows what the word actually means, which for the record is, “a non-sexual connection” I think people think it means they don't have sex on their first “platonic” meeting or something like that ;).
Now comes my situation… it's about time after all these words, yeah?! Here's the story (and it's true I promise). I was looking in the m4w and had surmised that these men are pretty much all cheaters looking for a “sex kitten,” “partner in crime,” “something discreet,” or looking for someone who wants a daddy, so ewww! BUT, I'm writing a story with an infidelity theme in it and these posts are fodder for my fiction!
I put an ask out on FB and got amazing feedback from cheaters of all ages, genders and socioeconomic backgrounds (as based on my FB friends). What I learned from those interviews are cheaters cheat for a multitude of reasons but their mindset is completely different from mine. I am a serial monogamist. By nature, by nurture and by my choice of faith I don't have the slightest desire inside me to have more than one intimate relationship. It's not me, it's not how I operate. I guess, until I did the interviews I sort of supposed everyone was like-minded. Sure, people cheat but it's a thing that happens that causes guilt or conflict internally or is otherwise deemed “wrong” by the cheater. That's not really so and it was shocking to me to learn this.
It was another paradigm shift. How had I come 38 years and not realized some cheaters, dare I say most cheaters, like to cheat and get something out of it and think of it in a completely different way than I ever have? I am in no way, shape or form interested in changing my choice to be monogamous. I like, I want, I need to believe in having a soul-mate, a one and only lover that I'm free to express my deepest secrets to unabashedly. But this other way of thinking, fascinates me even as it is unsettling to my sensibilities. I want to understand it.
There I was on craigslist in the middle of multiple cheater posts, just waiting for my email. So… I emailed and I got responses. And that's where I'm at. I'm not entertaining any of the cheaters, I'm simply asking open-ended questions to understand why. And they like to talk as long as it's anonymous, which for me it's not because they know I'm a writer writing a book that deals with infidelity.
What I should have done differently was invented an anonymous email for myself instead of using my author one. I should have looked at posts in other far, far away cities, I should have waited until I have my gun rights back in case any creep comes after me now because it's slightly scary to be dialoging with people I know NOTHING about. But all in all, I am floored, confused, unsure how their mindsets can be so different. I guess it makes me sad for the partners if they are monogamous… more than sad it breaks my heart for them. It hurts so bad and I don't think the hurt can be translated in a way a cheater mindset would understand. It is a topic I'll continue to research but never participate in.
And that, ladies and gentlemen is the situation. :D