Days bright and sunshine lovely, adventures plenty and fatigue equal, and mornings cool and calm. Yet how the afternoon breezes kick up daily on the lake, swooping down the ski slopes and across the great glacial bowl! Such a simple life will never be so simple as to be rid the outside world, hard as I may wish it. If dusty, truly forgotten corners still exist in this country, I have yet to find them. I’ll learn yet how not to hide from the world, how not to run away.
Instead? Amusements of such sweet varieties as playing in sandboxes and slurping huckleberry shakes overlap with the more ordinary distractions of miles (bike, swim, run!) and beer. Nights are quietly lengthening, and amidst this late summer each evening hints at autumn and winter stealthily approaching. Towering pillowcase afternoon clouds become evening gusts, whipping off the lake and whistling in the Ponderosas and Douglas firs; screaming students each night trade their crazed exuberances for pajama-clad zombie walks, toothbrush and toothpaste beside. Flashlight beams dart across the empty center of campus, and in one of the staff cabins, drunken laughter bounces off the walls. Silent and invisible at the foot of the steps to the deck, I am not quite thoughtful, not quite empty-headed, but simply am. Wind washes over in long cold waves and the phone conversation echoes, tinged with memories and quietly awkward wordings. "You were the last to know," he says, "I’m sorry. I'll know more on Monday."
Distance and space and time are abstractions, so variable in the current of memories, and though I would not say we are close, neither would I say we are distant. I do not feel the words -- so big and foreign and sanitized are some things – but neither am I disconnected from them. He will not say he is scared, but this quiet talk is awkward even for us.
A neighbor finds me, wordlessly gives a quiet hug and asks no questions; she knows words spill when ripe and not before, and that satisfies her. He speaks of make-shift baseball near the beach, nearly two decades ago now, and of the grandchildren he so rarely sees, beautiful wriggling bodies. I am the absent uncle, the disconnected fellow who will not and cannot remember their names, not for more than a moment, but growth is appreciable even from afar. Family, I suppose, is another shifting abstractions, close and far – though such poles are more often one and the same than opposing ideas.
Sleep we do not much find in this place, still tied up in work demands and anxieties, social needs. But there is quiet comfort in sinking into a couch beside a wood stove as the night turns late, huddling around a laptop and forgetting our need for space in deference for our need of warmth, scenes flitting past in a bath of orchestral wonder, major lifts and minor falls. "I always forget how much I like this movie," we say, but in truth, it is as much the company; we bid our nights separate farewells and turn to our yurts. They'll drift off to sleep; I'll lay awake before the miles claim me. And if the world isn't a wonder at two the morning, stars and foxes and quiet pines for companions? Ah, but hope it always is, an eternal reminder that there will be wrongs, sure, but far more, there will be rights and wonderment and joy. Another run closes: a once-strong wind now absent, morning a hint in the fading stars. He’ll know more on Monday; today can only be today.