When I told my cousin that I thought we should hike Tom Dick and Harry Mountain on Monday she laughed and said “Nice name.” It’s true, it is a somehow a little crass—but it had been on my list forever, and the weather had never cooperated before, so I was pretty excited to do it. We left Portland early, driving up the mountain under a slightly cloudy sky. I have to admit that I was only halfway present in the car. One half of my being was genuinely delighted to spend time with my cousin, who I don’t get to see often enough, but the other half was feeling cagey and anxious, running through a mental list of things I needed to do. I was fighting the feeling that I should be somewhere else at the beginning of my last week of class in the MFA, as a student and a teacher. I should be applying for jobs, I should be working on final projects, I should be grading my students’ essays. I should definitely not be flying on Highway 26 for a day-long trek up a mountain called Tom Dick and Harry.
I’m doing something a little different this week! The following is a short reflection I wrote for a class I’m taking on personhood and interspecies communication. We drew cards from an animal medicine deck in class, then looked for ways the animal + interpretation influenced our lives. I thought I’d share it here!
Last week was hard for me: I was sick, I was rushing to finish a teaching portfolio, I was anxious about my defense. But it stopped mattering as soon as I hit Friday afternoon, all of it, and do you know why? Well, I’ll be honest, it was in part because my thesis defense went really well. Actually it was exactly the conversation I needed—not overly full of praise, but a thoughtful and insightful questioning of the themes and narrative threads I’ve been trying to work into my book—and that obviously made me feel strong, and confident, but also lighter than air. But it was also because I hit the road, and if there’s one thing I love, it’s a road trip.
Somehow, without my consent, the madness of March bled into April, and my own birthday snuck up on me this year. I’d known it was coming, made plans, went to Disneyland thinking about it…and still, when I woke up on the 15th, I couldn’t really believe it was already here. This is the peril, I think, of getting older. You have so many things to do—usually fun things, sometimes boring things, but always something—that anticipation slips away from you, and time no longer crawls. So I turned 28, and now I’m just getting a second to sit down and think about it, what that really means, and what I want to accomplish in the next year.
When I told people last week that my family was taking a vacation to Disneyland together, those who knew me went straight from, “Oh wow, how fun!” to “Wait, all of you?” to “Really, Disneyland?” They knew that in my family there are now four adult children, ranging from adultish-adults (Rachelle) to part-time adults (Sam & I) to newly-minted adults (Garrett). My parents, as far as I’m concerned, have always been adults. Disneyland—a theme park obsessively built and designed for children—might not be the obvious choice for a crew like ours. But that’s where you’d be wrong. Not only did we have an incredible trip, complete with ups and downs that ended in one final harrowing ride in a minivan from LA to Fresno to catch a flight, I might argue it was better than even trips we took as kids.