Friday, August 14, 2009

The Washington Journey

Most bloggers post more often than once every four months.
Now, I will too. This short story is one of the things I've churned out in that time.

The Washington Journey
by Bobby Gordon

It was such a relief when they loosened the straps, undid the buckles, and let their packs hit the ground.
The bright red of Oren’s waterproof North Face pants stood out against the earth tones of, well, the earth around him. He thought it was funny how much he stood out in the natural world in his backpacking gear. He was from the world. He always thought the boundary between cities and nature was an illusion. It was all the same, He was from here. But he also wasn’t. He felt like a kid who had just been away for so long that he couldn’t recognize his own hometown.
The sky was blue-grey-white, as if they were all one color blended together to fill the air with late winter becoming spring. The dark green grass blanketed the hillside with rocks dusted with frost and scattered like shiny marbles that had been cracked and abandoned but still made the light dance. The snow-covered mountains on the horizon filled their minds with notions of being on the brink. Beauty, birth and death in every breath, thought James.
James exhaled and could see his breath in the air.
“Cool,” Oren said.
“Cold,” James said back.
They were just stoned enough to find that funny. It turns out that wasn’t that stoned. They’d only taken a couple hits out of the bowl each. They were more high on “the journey” as they called it.
They went into their packs and in a matter of minutes had the fresh 2-person tent set up and were throwing all the food items out of their pack to start getting dinner together. Oren set up the small camping stove and got the water going for the rice. God, this is living he thought. Real, Actual living. James started cutting salami and mixing spices together in a small bowl.
Oren and James had both graduated the previous June from UC Berkeley. What a relief they had thought. No more midterms, finals, essays. School is out for-fucking-ever.
A couples months later they thought they were crazy for not finding some excuse to stay behind. Oren had a job working in a law firm in the city, 8-5, Monday through Friday, week after week. He woke up tired, not really coming-to until he was sitting at his desk, and then he was tired by the time he got home. He’d have a few exhausted hours, and then it’d be time to go to sleep and start over.
At first it was a novelty, being an adult. The meetings, the lunches, the business cards. But that didn’t last long. Pretty soon he just missed the length of those days when he had nothing to do. The weekday hikes, Tuesday afternoon beer pong, masturbating at 10 in the morning if he felt like it, and he tended to feel like it. Sitting at his desk on a Wednesday morning he thought, how am I supposed to do this with the rest of my life?
James didn’t have a job. At first it was a novelty. The weekday hikes, Tuesday afternoon beer pong, masturbating at 10 in the morning if he felt like it, and he tended to feel like it. But then the days got too long. His parents were screaming at him to get a job or an internship, or at least lock your damn door son if you’re going to take your dick out before lunch. College had at least given him a purpose. And it was a purpose where it was entirely respectable to get high in between classes and eat a whole super carne asada burrito from Gordo’s Taqueria in the back row of lecture. It was almost expected. And now, it was over. He felt like he had woken up at a party and while everyone had gotten in their cars to drive home and nurse their hangovers, he was in the kitchen drinking.
The wind picked up and blew the clothes at the top of Oren’ pack up the hillside. They both ran up to collect them.
“Shit,” Oren said.
The wind blew and knocked the pot over. He refilled the pot with water from his pack and moved the stove to a spot behind the rock.
Nature’s kitchen, he thought. I just gotta learn the right way to cook in it. That’s all. Not fully confident, he sat on the rock and kept watch on the stove. James was chopping up some vegetables and lining them up in a long lone on a rock. He worked fast trying to finish before the next gust of wind. He got the last one up and rushed to the other end of the rock, put the bowl on the ground and ran back to the other side. He knocked over the first piece of carrot and watched them domino all the way across the rock, knocking the last one into the bowl.
“YYYEEAAA!!!” he exclaimed, and then gathered up all of the fallen carrots to put back into the bowl.
They never said they weren’t going to be stupid. The point of “the journey” wasn’t to grow up how other people wanted. It was about redefining what growing up meant. It was about not sacrificing all the hours of your to a job, or to masturbating while pretending to look for a job. It was about really living. Standing on a peak staring out at the distance surrounded by peaks. That was why they were here. In the mountains of Washington. It was why Oren quit his job, and James decided to publicly not be looking for one. It was why they planned to only go into town every other week for supplies and spend six months away from jobs, parents, inevitability, just away.
“I left everything in elf-storage,” James said.
“Yea. I moved all of my stuff out of my parents and that same night, around nine o’clock, I found this great place that had enough room for all of my stuff for just 100 bucks a year. What a great name, right? They sold me with the Neon sign outside.
“Where in the hell did you find this place?
“Oh it’s down on Ashby. I guess it’s either run by Elves or owned by Elves. I think owned, because the guy working there was normal sized.”
“On Ashby and Sacramento?”
“Yea, that’s it.”
“That’s Self-Storage, you retard. The S must have been burnt out. No wonder you couldn’t get a job.”
“Hey you don’t have to be such a dick. Just because you had a job fetching coffee and making photo copies doesn’t make you such a genius.”
They didn’t talk for the next fifteen minutes preparing dinner. They were in the expanse of the mountains, but it all of a sudden it felt like a cramped apartment kitchen.
The water started to boil. Oren reached and turned down the heat. The honeymoon wasn’t supposed to be over so quickly on “the journey.” Here they were, 23, both feeling burnt out as they exhaled out in unison and saw their breath in the cold. They looked at each other.
The stove bubbled over and the pot fell off again onto the ground.

No comments:

Post a Comment