Life as an Extreme Sport


The brown mountain still looms large over UCRiverside this morning, but once that one has passed perspective shifts and snaps and the mountains are “just like home” – so long as you locate home in the Bay Area in the 80s and 90s. They are almost comforting in their familiarity, but the strange feelings they bring up linger.

The flight home is a sequence of memories. We follow the spine of the Sierra Nevadas, and I recognize and count off place after place after place, that I’ve been, that are rich with memory, that wish to be overwritten. I wonder if it will ever stop feeling like a raw wound? I see Mono Lake, the pass to the High Country of Yosemite, a good chunk of Yosemite itself, in all its glacier-carved glory. It’s even possible to see Bodie, and I can’t decide whether I feel fond, or sad, or both. So I just lean against the window and watch pages from the book of my life pass by.

There’s 50. Lake Tahoe. I can see the Sacramento valley over the mountains, spreading out in a broad and flat plane. 80. Donner Lake. Pyramid Lake. Lassen. Whatever the name of that long, long lake on the road between Lassen and Gerlach is, where we discovered the way around checkpoints, and found dark side roads… The Black Rock Desert. Shasta. Crater Lake, clear blue and perfectly flat and reflective. Mount St. Helens. Bits of the Pacific Ocean peaking out from yonder mountains and clouds; is that the beach where I nearly tipped the car? It must be…

Click, flip. Click, flip. The whirring of a mental camera and map, pulling up memories, threads, stories, feelings and images. A three hour flood, that only shuts down when we descend and pause in an 800 foot thick fog bank. There, in the silent grey, I simply appreciate the aesthetics of the fog, unattached and unencumbered by such thick memory.