Archives for the month of: July, 2009

I think that when some people are young and fairly unencumbered, sharp changes in their lives can become habituating. For instance, Chris had never lived outside of West Virginia, and I had only ever lived on the East Coast. We moved to the Northwest…and now we are thinking of moving to China to teach English for a year or so.

We would make good money–we’d come out of it with about $40,000, give or take. We would be given an apartment, and would only have to pay utilities and food. Our return flight would be covered, and depending on the program, so would traveler’s insurance, plus we might get a domestic travel stipend for holidays. When you join a program, you are guaranteed a job. Most programs also include Chinese lessons

We are thinking that we would use part of the money to pay off our student loans, first and foremost. Then we take part of it and travel: I am desperate to show Chris France. The rest we would save, and get an apartment in Prague, probably. That way I could write or teach English, and Chris would be close to the sources he needs to write his Mucha book.

Perhaps this yen to travel is less a habit-to-be, and more a taste…I feel very strongly that the most meaningful experiences life has to offer are the ones that take you completely out of yourself and your accustomed locus–mentally, emotionally, linguistically, you name it. Stability of the middle-class variety has little to offer in the way of discovery–think of it as a lifestyle version of “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Besides, traveling and changing your circumstance teach you to carry your stability in your head, and I think that’s a good thing.

Even if it is unpopular with my family (and it isn’t with many of them), I truly believe these things. It would probably surprise anyone looking at me to hear it, but I am much more interested in expanding my experience and learning about other ways of being in the world than I am in being merely comfortable.

We started this journey with the idea of accompanying Monkey west. He hasn’t appeared on this page for several posts, but without a doubt the spirit of his quest remains strong in our hearts and minds.

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We went back to Discovery Park again yesterday, and this time we went down to the beach. We parked so that we didn’t have to do the whole Loop Trail, but it still ended up being about a five mile hike.

The southern part of the loop trail is lovely. It passes through a few bits of woods, but most of it happens next to the Southern Meadow and the Sand Dunes. Yesterday we saw a guy in a para-glider landing in the meadow, and someone flying a fish-shaped kite. The Sand Dunes aren’t really. Mostly it’s a meadow too, but the trail becomes beach sand, and there is one place that’s a big open sandy area, probably big enough for a volleyball game and some spectators. After you pass this, there are some more woods and then you take the beach trail down.

The beach trail is pretty difficult. Large sections of it are stairs because the hillside–well, it’s not really a hillside, it’s a bluff. For a few feet here and there, the plants have grown up and over and actually cover the path, making it dark and scary and causing one to think that glittery vampires are a comforting fiction specifically born out of holy crap it’s scary.

But then the beach. The wind hits you as soon as you leave the trees. It is cold and stiff and incessant, and after the hot hike down the hill it is welcome, at least at first. The actual beach is very narrow to someone who grew up with trips to Myrtle Beach: only about 12-14 feet wide. It is carpeted with driftwood except for about 4 feet where the waves actually break, and there it is half-covered in various seaweeds.

Chris and I brought a loaf of this company’s rosemary diamante bread, a summer sausage and some cheese to have a picnic lunch. We sat on a driftwood log and watched boats and birds and waves and carved off chunks of bread and sausage and got chillier and chillier. Directly opposite us were the Olympic Mountains. South, we eventually noticed that we could just see Mt. Rainier. North was a lighthouse. Salt was in the air, and crusted on the bread in a stroke of genius by the bakers. That was the very best meal I’ve ever had.

After we had eaten enough and were too chilly to just sit still anymore, we started to walk up the beach. I was looking at the ground so intently that I passed a woman sitting on a log and didn’t notice until I was several feet past her. Chris found a magic wand and carried it for several feet before submitting it back to the beach. I found a perfectly white stone that seemed to have been draped with thin strands of seaweed just for contrast, and kept it. We saw two enormous driftwood logs that seemed certain to be century-old pieces of ships, with old-fashioned nails in them. I found a Taoist principle just lying there on the beach where anyone could learn from it. Before we left, I made sure that I made a cairn in the family tradition of playing with rocks in pretty places.

Then we hiked back out, and I actually made it.