Sunday, December 4, 2011

rest for the wicked

If you've ever suffered a soul-crushing life event, the kind that makes you want to throw yourself into a fast-moving river wearing ankle weights, sometimes the best thing to do is just...get out of town. Way out, away from people's well-meaning comments like, "Get over it!", "Time to move on", and "Everything happens for a reason." (I especially hate this one. What? What is the damn reason? I'm waiting)

Of course, firefighters never need an excuse to get out of town, especially during the off season. Name a semi-warm country with a decent beach on it, and chances are someone on your crew has been there, or knows a fire friend who has. Costa Rica, Australia, Fiji...we scatter over the map in the winter like grains of sand.

My theory is that we are chasing summer. In our jobs, we catch glimpses of this magical season through the helicopter window, or while packing 70 pounds of gear out from a fire through the woods. We can see you, people on boats in tank tops and shorts, while we monitor helicopter dip sites. Your barbecue smells delicious. But let's focus here. We didn't want Monday through Friday office jobs, so if we make it till winter, the tropics are there waiting.

In late November I make my escape. Cash in some frequent flier miles. Pack my flip flops. Leave town in the early morning darkness.

I called this place the Lost World. Hike 9 miles in and you can be here too.

 Of course, nothing really is different once you come back from getting out of town. What you tried to leave behind is still here, whether it's winter office work and meetings, or a personal loss. But there is this: while I walked, I picked up passionfruit off the forest floor and ate it, seeds and all, savoring the sweetness. Once, every day of my life was just as sweet. And it will be again.





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