Connections

Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
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Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, June 25, 2011

Warning: Long entry (but worth every damn word of it)

My friend Jose was living in Wrightwood as part of a small team building a zipline course.  When I had visited him the prior weekend (see entry here), he had told me that Saturday was going to be a free friends and family day for people to see the course.  Although I really wanted to get on the road, how often do you get to go on an awesome zipline course that your friend helped build for free?  I was able to kill enough time in southern California and make an appearance.

A product of Navitat Canopy Tours, the course was actually built by Bonsai.  We ran the course in small groups of 8 or so, departing around noontime.  We suited up in our sexy harnesses, loaded on to a army-like vehicle that moved at a sloth's pace but could probably crawl up a straight wall, drove up a dirt road through the trees that was almost as steep as a wall, and made a short little hike to the first launch zone.  The first line is only about 50 feet long, just to get people used to the feeling and get an idea of how to brake and control yourself while zipping across the line.  Each zip actually has two lines.  A fancy trolley mechanism runs along the lines, attached through redundant cables and carabiners to a point on the harness, leaving you [mostly] comfortably hanging from the lines like a cocoon.  One hand is placed on top of the trolley and is used for control issues - to keep you from rotating while going across the line.  The other hand is placed on the lower line, behind your head, and is used as a braking mechanism by just putting pressure on the line.  We had gloves, of course.  New gloves - we were the first to use them - everyone else will have to use our nasty, already-sweated-in gloves from now on!

The course was, needless to say, awesome!  About 10 zips total, the highest of which is 300 feet off the ground, and the longest zip being 1600 feet long (that's almost 1/3 mile)!  I have some pictures and a video uploaded here, but be sure to check out the point of view videos on the Navitat website.  A few are on ground level, but most of the launch and landing zones are actually up in a tree, where large wooden platforms give you space to move around and wait for your group to arrive.  The line humming like a transmission when someone is zipping down it, getting higher and higher in pitch as they pick up speed.  Zipping just feet from trees and boulders, passing birds with WTF faces.  Numerous rope bridges, a few rappels, and the Sky Stairs - a staircase made of rope and wood that spans maybe 50 feet between two trees and gains 20 feet in the process.  At one point, a zip ends on a platform way up in a tree, you rappel down to another platform (still 50 feet up in the tree), cross one rope bridge to another tree, reach another platform, and then cross another bridge before reaching the next launch area.  I felt like an Ewok!  At all times, other than when on the ground, of course, guests are clicked in to a cable for safety.  It is unbelievable the amount of work that went in to the course.  From the initial surveying and having an arborist determine healthy trees, lugging wood and huge spools with thousands of feet of metal cable, using crossbows or a sawed off shotgun to run the initial line, using this thin line (like a fishing wire) to pull a slightly larger cable, then a slightly larger one, and so on, installing multiple other tension cables on every line, braking systems, platforms a hundred feet up in a tree, immaculately constructed bridges and staircase... amazing!  I would recommend it to anyone.

That night, in celebration, Bonsai acquired four kegs and a MASSIVE amount of food (mostly meat) and invited everyone to drive up into the mountains to camp and celebrate.  And celebrate we did!  Four pony kegs of local microbrew, along with plenty brought along by individuals, hamburgers, steaks, ribs, bacon-wrapped asparagus, salmon burgers, all the fixins, music provided by someone's pickup truck.  Did I mention the pinata?  And of course, what mountain celebration is complete without a campfire?  Just a small one, which we kept a close eye on since the mountainsides were covered with dry grass.  After a while, once the stars and distant lights of Victorville were shining brightly, and everyone was feeling pretty good, the guitars broke out.  Scotty led, accompanied by me, doing my best to pick some leads, and Nick, playing a fantastic wooden flute.  A little Weezer, a little Franti, a little open jam.  I was smiling ear to ear, people laughing and singing along, everybody having a simply amazing time, so happy to be up in the mountains celebrating with out friends, celebrating their amazing accomplishment and hard work.

So there's a girl.  I have loved her more deeply than I have ever loved anyone before.  And she hurt me more deeply than I have ever been hurt, hopefully ever again.  She loved me more deeply than I have ever been loved before, more than I have ever let anyone love me.  And I hurt her more than she had ever been hurt before, or hopefully ever again.  We dated each other, we hated each other, we held each other's bare bodies out of love, out of loneliness, out of weakness, out of spite, out of fun, out of longing, out of pure contentedness.  We saw each other through other lovers (if you could even call them that, in some cases) and, for better or worse, came together again and again.  My last night in Denver, we held each other in the bed of my truck.  We have been everywhere together, through everything.  We brought each other the lightest times of our lives; we brought each other the darkest nights.  We have been to hell and back, with each other, because of each other, and for each other.  We have helped each other find our true selves, and have utterly and completely destroyed each other.  Through it all and after it all, somehow, we have maintained this deep, indescribable love for each other.  She is nothing but light to me.  Our fucked up love is so much more, so greatly transcendent to any kind of romantic love.  So much more than soulmates.  Intrinsically connected and intertwined.  Twin souls.

Recently I started writing a song to try to capture some of this.  A happy song.  For those of you who know me, you know that I don't write happy shit.  Long after the jam session at the fire, I found myself playing solo.  At one point, I played this song.  I was singing just a whisper, for many reasons: one, because the words were not quite complete, but moreso because I promised this girl that she would be the first to hear it.  Before I left Colorado, I gave her a card that read "...someday maybe I will write a happy song about all of the beautiful things you have given me.  And if I do, you will be the first to hear it."  And so I played and I sang.  Although my voice was quiet, my body, my whole being was shining and singing with everything it had.  After I was done, Mark, sitting next to me, looked up and said, "You sing really softly, so I don't really know that you were singing about... but it must be something really beautiful," drawing out the last words in emphasis.  It is, Mark.  It is.

After that I played my rendition of Duran Duran's Come Undone.  Slightly slower, more intimate, a little more dynamic in some ways.  This is another song that I don't perform with my hands and voice - it comes from within me and usually leaves me a little spent and tired.  When I was done another voice from a few chairs away said, "I really like what you did with that song."  "Oh, you recognized it?" I asked in surprise since most people don't.  "Yes I did.  I think it deserves a round of applause."  Then he and a number of others around the campfire applauded for me. 

Please don't think I am trying to brag.  Quite the opposite.  Both of these events left me so humble, so appreciative, and so encouraged.  So much higher than the fancy tobacco I smoked could have ever taken me.  I just love that Mark felt so much from a song whose words he couldn't even hear.  That the song contains so much energy and holds so much meaning that words are not even needed to feel it.  Just a pure, basic, natural energetic connection.


So there's another girl.  (Two in one entry?  Absurd, I know.)  She had been in another zipline group during the day.  I first saw her after we were all done, figuring out some final logistics for the night in the parking lot.  We were all dressed in our raggy outdoor gear, prepared for ziplining and dirt and pitch, hardly there to impress.  We had spent all day outside in the sun and breeze.  But for some reason from the first time I looked at her I could not keep my eyes off.  She had these sparkling emerald green eyes that held so much life, so much energy.  The kind of eyes that, when you look at them, you feel as if they can see right into your soul.  She caught me looking at her time and time again, I would usually inwardly panic for a moment and look away, only to return to her eyes a few moments later.  However, I never felt like she was rejecting my glances or felt uncomfortable by them.  Her eyes were kind.

Genevieve.  Throughout the evening and into the night we found ourselves in conversation numerous times.  We stepped away from the fire at one point to get a better view of the stars.  I pointed out a couple constellations that I knew and that were visible through the tall pines.  We talked about travels, Utah, the desert.  Somehow, conversation led me to mentioning one of my songs, Pennsylvania Avenue.  "You wanna hear it?"  "Sure," seeming slightly perplexed.  We walked through the darkness to my mobile home, I dropped the tailgate, got out my Washburn, and motioned for her to take a seat.  For the next while we just sat there, I played a couple songs, and we enjoyed the still air, the black pine silhouettes against the night sky and stars, the distant sound of music and laughter, a powerfully serene moment with someone we just met.  We were interrupted by a loud WHACK!!! and the sound of people screaming and cheering.  "We missed the pinata!"  "Shall we go look for goodies?" she recommended.

After this preliminary sneak into the woods is when all of the jamming and music occurred, described earlier.  Quite some time passed, her emerald eyes glimmering in the fire, beckoning me to lose myself in them (which I did).  I retrieved a constellation chart from my truck, returned to the fire, and showed her my discovery.  She surprised and thrilled me with her next words, "Maybe we should go somewhere a little darker to look at them."

Eh, no thanks.  Of course!  Who's gonna say no to that?!  For the second time that night, we quietly moseyed into the dark woods together.  The air was filled with nervous anticipation (at least for me) as we slowly walked back toward my truck and I put my guitar away.  Now, I can sometimes be pretty blunt, and I have never been described as exactly smooth.  So, I went for it, "Can I kiss you?"  "I hardly know you," she answered, her face hidden in the darkness, but sounding like she was smiling.  The night concealing her cheeks filled with blush, I imagined.  "Well, what else would you like to know about me?"  "You're persistent, aren't you?"  I doubt she could see, but I just smiled.  "Tell me more about the stars," she said, as she turned around, close to me but facing away, looking up to the heavens.  I did my best to pick out the few constellations I could see, moving my head close to hers and pointing from her perspective.

Over the next few minutes we gradually moved closer and closer together, like an eclipse, the shadow of the earth moving ever so slowly across the moon.  It wasn't rushed, it wasn't forced, it was hardly conscious... and then there she was, back pressed against my chest, her hands in her pockets, my hands gently wrapped around her wrists, my chin resting against the side of her head.  It was a beautifully intimate moment, as if we had known and trusted and embraced each other before.  The same spark I had been captured by all night long was now right in front of me, burning in my arms.  I don't know how long we stood like that.  10 seconds?  10 minutes?  Time washed away, the night suspended.  I think somebody even walked by in the darkness, but we didn't care, we didn't budge.  It reminded me of Crested Butte, in the arms of a lover.  A lover unknown, but so familiar.

But all good things must come to an end.  My persistence eventually got the best of me and led to that awkward moment where two faces perform ungraceful two-step shuffles to different rhythms.  I could not believe that I had just ruined such an amazing moment, crushing an obvious but intangible connection.  I felt like a fool.  I was a fool.  She had her reasons, and I grossly disrespected her by not honoring them.  I'm gonna brush my teeth and go to bed.  And I watched her walk away, becoming one with the dark.

I went back to the fire and just sat for a long time, taking sips of the tequila and champagne that were being passed around.  Playing my stupidity over and over again in my head.  Letting myself just dissolve into my surroundings, hoping that nobody would address me and bring me out into the open.  Eventually I grew weary, returned to my castle, and drifted to sleep.

Although I was sure it would probably be useless, I hoped to see her in the morning and apologize.  As I was crawling out of the bed of my truck, she and a couple others were just passing by, being shuttled down on one of the company's quads.  Seeing her again in the daylight, I was reminded of those eyes, drawn right back in, having to force myself to glance at the others and not just state at her alone.  She had a Mona Lisa smile on her face.  Slight.  Not entirely readable.  But when our eyes met, I did not feel unkindness.  Her eyes, kind, emerald and soul seeing, could hopefully see the apology and sincerity in my own.
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Comments

Brother from an identical Mother on

Good entry brother. Your description alone enticed me to look into zip lining for the first time, as did the link you posted. And dont worry, youre not the first fool to screw up a moment like that. Its in our nature.

But at least we're consistent.

normon66
normon66 on

Consistent, and getting damn good at it, too!

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