Bellyache

Niagara Falls w:Skok

Have you ever had the experience of not realizing how much pain you are in until the pain is gone? Being accustomed to frequent pain, specifically back pain, I’ve had this experience a few times. We become so accustomed to pain, especially pain that sneaks up on us as a result of repetitive motion due to daily tasks that must be performed, that often times we don’t even realize we are in pain until the pain is gone. It’s an odd feeling to be without pain when you’ve experienced it consistently for such a long time.

I’m in my late thirties now so I’ve lived a little bit of life. This past week, I packed up all the belongings I could fit in my car, as well as my dog and my sister (who selflessly joined me for the road trip) and drove 3,200 miles, from Northern California to Buffalo, NY (we had a few detours due to weather and wanting to visit family along the way). For most people, this would be acceptable if I were moving for work or something similarly logical. I have moved for work reasons in the past but this time I moved for love. So cheesy, I know, and, I’ll give it to you, kind of crazy as well. Especially since we have only known each other for a year, so not long in the scheme of things, been dating for 4 months and had spent less than 20 (not even full) days together in real life before I moved.

The morning, for me, has always been the time of day when I’m the most honest with myself. When first waking up, honesty is really the only option. It pounces on me without permission, forcing me to look at decisions I’ve made and the true impact they have on me and the people around me.

Since day one of starting to spend time with my beau as something more romantic than friendly, I wake up every morning at peace. This is not a caught-up-in-the-moment, head-over-heels kind of feeling. It is pure peace. With that peaceful feeling came some confusion. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at first but, after awhile, I realized what was missing; a pit in my stomach. In the past, I had never experienced a romantic relationship without some kind of feeling that it wasn’t right. Always waking up in the morning with that tell tale knot in my stomach and then shoving it down and explaining it away to myself, “It’s just me . . . it’ll get better in time. . .  everyone feels this way . . .” It hasn’t been until now, until that ill feeling has been completely absent, that I am able to see how wrong I was. That feeling may be normal but it doesn’t exist when things are right. When you’ve truly found your person, your whole body is at peace even in those very first, uninhibited moments waking up. Even with knowing that I would be moving across the country, far from family and friends, that feeling of discontentment has never crept up on me upon first waking. I can’t help but, out of habit and past experience, wait for the other shoe to drop but, it seems, sometimes things are just right and it’s okay to accept the peace that comes with pain no longer being present.

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I was almost eaten by a mountain lion tonight . . .

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Okay not really but I convinced myself I was going to be. I was able to sneak in a quick hike after work but didn’t really take into consideration the fact that the days are getting shorter now and ended up walking in the dark with my iPhone as my flashlight. I learned, about 6 weeks ago, that there are mountain lions on the  mountain that I love to hike most (Bogg’s Mountain in Middletown, CA) and that they are especially active between dusk and dawn – HUNTING between dusk and dawn. So, now, anytime I’m hiking and it’s starting to get dark, I start imagining that a mountain lion is stalking me from between the trees just passed where my eyes can still focus.

I am well aware that my fear is irrational, although not completely unfounded because it does happen, it’s just really uncommon. These mountain lions are definitely not looking to eat me and, as I was explaining to them out loud on my hike tonight, eating me would just be disappointing; I’m just blubber and clothing; not tasty at all.

The information about safe hiking posted at the CDF station warns, in regard to mountain lions (who are a vital and cherished part of the mountain’s eco system), not to hike at night (strike 1), not to hike alone (strike 2) and to make lots of noise while hiking so that you don’t accidentally sneak up on a mountain lion and it accidentally bites your jugular in response. Since I was skating on very thin ice, as my scared little brain was so enthusiastically explaining to me, I decided to at least make some noise.

I started humming. That didn’t seem loud enough. I started singing and making random noises. Then I started talking to the mountain lions, as I mentioned earlier, that I was convinced were lurking just feet away; “Mr. Mountain Lion, you should probably know that I am not delicious . . . Mrs. Mountain Lion, I am totally not worth your time. I bet you’re used to eating tasty deer . . .” and so on. I’m not COMPLETELY crazy; I know the big cats don’t hang out together unless it’s baby making time, I was just addressing both genders so as not to disrespect either one – okay so maybe I’m a little crazy.

I decided to go back to singing and ended up “writing” a song . . . aaaaand decided to record it. I’m sure it’s a brilliant masterpiece as I don’t have a clue how to write songs but the part I’m certainly most proud of is when I had a moment of panic, completely forgetting that I was still recording, and sung, ” . . . la la la – this is NOT loooooking goooood -” I immediately started imagining what was left of my remains being found and the sense the ranger would try to make of my singsongy ramblings.

I did get a really amazing picture out of the whole situation. It was early in the hike when I should have realized I’d be walking in the dark in about 10 minutes but, stubbornly, pressed on anyway. Here’s to commitment – and a little bit of crazy.

Sunset from Bogg's Mountain

Sunset from Bogg’s Mountain