I accept.

During a welcome beat of my new-found stride, I went on a hike with some badass ladies tonight. We hike fast up the “M” in Bozeman. It’s like the “M” in Missoula… same same, but different. Montanans love putting letters on mountains.

creehikes_and_rocksbeers

Afterwards, we hung out on a bench and talked and watched in horror as Cree [Rebekah’s dog] hunted a grouse and drank my new favorite beer and toasted a new [awesome] job [for Chelsi] and basked in this Bozeman life.

When we got back to the trailhead, we said our goodbyes and I got into my car. When I turned the key, I immediately recognized the voice on the radio and was excited that I was tuning in right in time for Hillary Clinton’s speech.

I decided I wanted to drive and listen to it. So I drove to a popular lookout for sunset. A few other cars were there, awaiting the fiery sunset. I cranked the speech, cracked another beer, and watched the sunset.

I couldn’t help but think of the journey that led us to here. Me to here. I sat contemplating the person I was with—myself. I drank a beer with a coozie from Luckenbach, Texas on it. Texas. Where I was born and raised. But now I’m in Bozeman, watching the sunset over this beautiful mountain town. How I got here is quite the journey. I moved here to work in advertising. That sentence alone makes me shake my head and smile.

I’m listening to a woman I’ve grown to admire. I’ve listened to so many speeches, debates, addresses. I’ve read so much about this election in the New Yorker—who am I?? But I have a subscription now, thanks to my mother-in-law. Yes! I am married. I have a husband—how did that happen? When did I let this grown-up world become me?

I thought back to my early jobs, my early hobbies, my early boyfriends, my early voting habits [sorry about that, America], my early goals, my early dreams—all while watching this sunset and listening to this incredible speech.

drankingsunset

Clinton’s words, “When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit” rang over and over in my ears as I watched this beautiful sky. I half-smiled, because “The Sky’s the Limit” is the name of the latest tourism campaign my company executed. From dabbling in Photoshop at an office job when I was 18 to Art Director now. From women not being able to even vote to Hillary Clinton. We’re here now. I’m here now. A woman is running for president. This place, this life, this country accepts and encourages and applauds powerful women. My heart swelled, my eyes teared up, I took stock in this life and timeline and felt proud.

The sun made its final bow and the cars cleared the overlook, but Hillary was still speaking, still making history. I thought about how far we’ve come, how much I’ve grown up, as Hillary’s voice faded quieter and quieter… until silence. I was extremely confused. Was NPR fading out to start a new program??

And then there was the click of everything dying.

My car battery died. Of course. Oh, how quickly I felt not very adult at all. My husband was working and was not picking up his phone. Of course. Of course I am a child who doesn’t understand how cars or radios work. I called a friend. She was on her way.

I found the jumper cables in the back and waited. In the dark. With the opposite of Hillary’s encouraging words to listen to. All I had was the laughter of my own thoughts as they mocked how “far” I’ve made it in life. Dammit.

About five minutes later, in the absolute dark, a car pulled up. Not my friend’s car. It parked noticeably far away from my car. This car was either here to murder someone or round the bases with their high school crush. Considering my options—hero, victim, or buzzkill—I made my way towards the car.

I got too close to the car before anyone saw me for it not to be the most awkward thing in the world. I got close enough to obviously see this was the latter of my choices and I was about to be the biggest buzzkill. I startled the couple and motioned to roll down the window. I did this in the way that children born in 1999 or 2000 have no idea what I’m pantomiming—the big wooshing roll of the manual windows.

– My car battery is dead. Can I get a jump?

– Uh, sure. Do you have jumper cables?

– Yeah.

I called my friend and told her I found a jump. The car pulled up to mine, but not close enough. I had to tell the boy [the driver] to get closer. He quickly told me

– I’ve never done this before. I don’t know how to do this.

– We’re gonna be okay. Thanks so much.

I felt old again. I felt the familiarity of where he was, where the girl in the passenger seat who never left the car nor would hardly look at me… I knew where she was. I knew the uncertainty of jumping a car. I knew the freedom of being out in the middle of nowhere in a shitty car. I felt old in this way. Old in the knowing way.

I popped the hood and connected the cables. As I was connecting them to my car, I paused and stood up

– I’m Rachel, by the way.

– I’m Max.

I told Max to start his car. We waited. I started my car. It started.

I high-fived Max and thanked him over and over. Then, in par-for-the-course fashion, I said

– Sorry if I interrupted anything fun or important.

He awkwardly laughed at this stranded lady who must’ve seemed 100-years-old. We parted ways and I turned on the radio to hear just the recaps of Hillary’s speech.

It was perspective at it’s best. Humbling. Comical. Triumphant. Reflective.

I interrupted some frisky teenagers so that I could help them help me out. All so I could listen to our first woman presidential nominee speak and drink beer.

[god bless america.]

I know there’s gonna be good times.

If this here blahg is good for one thing, it’s to look back. And looking back is usually a bit embarrassing and demoralizing. Half of these links are broken! Why the hell can’t I listen to this playlist anymore?!

You had to be there. When we were there, things were unbroken in so many ways.

Life seems to find four year cycles with me. It’s easy to find similarities in where I am now to four years ago. Semi-new to a job I am over the moon over. A new mountain town that taps into a favorite part of myself. Finding friends all over again and missing the incredible ones only 3-4 hours away. Finding me again. Finding new step in my relationship with Evan. [we’re married now.] It’s all so familiar in such different ways.

I do still take photos of myself with computer cameras. Less, now. It used to be taking dozens upon dozens and posting them on this here blahg on the regular…

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 12.40.21 AM

From this post. Which was nothing! But something. Something that was acceptable for four years ago. Those posts were—honestly—grasps at something much lesser than relevance. Existence. It’s like I had to look into that Photobooth camera to make sure I was there. I exist. I’m here.

Now I take photos one at a time. Just one-offs. At my desk. Mainly to send text messages to Evan when I’m drinking at work…

success
Tonight, after driving to and fro Helena for a presentation and then many [many!] more hours in the office, I found myself texting Evan another photo taken from my computer. To describe where I was at. To show I was tired. To show I found work wine.

tired_happy_officing
And I could not get over how sad my eyes look! I sent it and immediately looked myself in the eyes. And as I was figuring out that I am not sad… I am tired… happy and tired… Evan texted me back…

– Your office is like a Highlights “Find These Objects” Illustration.

It made everything light. Happy and tired and smiling. Yes and yes. And then I put on so many Jimmy Fallon Lip Sync Battles and cranked out the rest of the work.

Playing this song on repeat helped as well:

Here we are. Four years later. Graduated from that time. Just in time for this time. These dance moves. These ridiculous computer-selfies.

Here we are.

[so there they were.]

maybe in one or two years.

Work has been more awesome than usual lately. It might have something to do with the fact that I’m not in grad school anymore. [hallelujah!] But very recently, it has a lot to do with Freddy — the German journalist who I had the pleasure of showing around Bozeman yesterday. After an insanely delayed flight, Freddy showed up in my office after being awake for more than 30 hours, donning his effortlessly hip European wears, ready to hike. So after a taco at the taco stand [i’m obsessed], we took off up Hyalite Canyon.

I instantly regretted taking my car. The air conditioning is giving it a good ol’ college try, but coming up short and this was one of the hotter days we’ve had. I almost apologized to Freddy, but he didn’t seem to mind at all. He didn’t fuss. He didn’t fidget. He didn’t once stare at his smart phone. He soaked in the scenery through his open window and felt present.

Our conversations were easy and comfortable and slow. Freddy was exhausted and making the switch to speaking English. I was tired and completely fine with the refreshing break of silence or near-ambivalent conversing. For about five minutes we tried to remember the name of the movie “Cliffhanger.”

– The guy, he hitchhikes the plane… not hitchhike… that’s not the word…

– Hijacks?

– Yes, yes… HIJACKS the plane…

I still didn’t know what movie we were talking about for many more minutes.

Things became simple and beautiful. His observations were comical and heart-warming. Once during the day, he quickly turned around to me and said…

– So do you feel you have a pioneer spirit then?

– Pardon?

– From Texas to Wyoming to Montana? Do you feel like a pioneer?

The answer — of course — was fumbling and black and white, back and forth. Yes. No. Yes, because of this. No, because of this.

It was a simple, lovely day and it made me wish that I was like that more. That I wasn’t always so pre-occupied with what was next. That I wasn’t cripplingly concerned if the ones around me were entertained. Being present and simple and curious and fine.

We hiked up to a waterfall in Hyalite Canyon and sat as close as we could. The cool mist was a paradise I didn’t realize I was craving — which is, by the way, the best kind of paradise.

We sat there for almost an hour. We talked about everything, in the most random manner. Or we just sat. It was perfect.

FREDDY

“I’m considering becoming an alcoholic… maybe in one or two years…”

[my favorite quote from the day. freddy langer, ladies and gentlemen.]

well, now I just want to ride my bike across the country on the northern tier.

This year has brought an abundance of exciting things. One of those exciting things was working with Epic Montana via Adventure Cycling to make the first episode in a series called, “Adventure Cycling Montana.”

I’ve plastered this short video all over the rest of my social media venues, but if you haven’t watched yet, I do think you’ll enjoy…


I also wrote a little behind-the-scenes blahg post about the whole experience over here. It was such an amazing experience. I still can’t get over that this was part of my job this year.

[exciting things.]

the alive work.

Things have been absolutely insane/awesome lately. I hate being too busy to have dancing dinners with Evan, call my mom to just talk, hug my friends after laughing about nothings, and go running/climbing/hiking/do anything that resembles exercise.

BUT things in the rest of life have been so rewarding.

I recently won a writing contest! Well, I got third place. Swift Industries announced that I received the Mount Baker Award for the Tough and Tender Project!

I’m gonna be published in Bicycle Times, y’all!

Oh, I’m just so excited about it. I wrote a story about the amazing bike tour I did with my mom in August…

momma_bike_tour

And AND I won some panniers from Swift! Ugh, it’s just such a win-win-win.

swift_industries

That’s a rear pannier packed to the brim right there. This photo is up in the Yaak of Montana, where I was the last two days. I went up there with some Adventure Cycling people for a little photoshoot. It was absolutely beautiful…

theview

It was the best kind of work. The work you love. The beautiful work. The alive work. The fun work…

shots

Oh, and here’s some more “work” I had fun making:

And when you’re not watching that video, you should be dancing to this…

Or being excited about this…

[xxo.]

ready for the next arrow.

As sad as I am that I haven’t been blahgging, it’s way more tragic that I haven’t been journaling. I read a quote about journaling that really hit me. I can’t remember what it said [because apparently i write nothing down these days], but paraphrasing, it said, “People who say they keep a journal but don’t, suck.” [very loose translation from memory.]

Last night, falling asleep with no hope of savoring another minute of eyes open, I wished I would’ve written down everything. There are days you want to remember everything. everything.

the light.

the laughs.

the brisk air.

the conversations. [the words. the words.]

the feeling.

the song.

that song.

the colors.

that taste.

So here goes nothing. Instead of journaling for myself, I’ve chosen this computer. I’ve chosen you. Why? Unclear. The convenience. The procrastination happening on this here computer.

Nothing even spectacular happened, but it was all so beautiful.

It’s fall here in Missoula now. Yesterday was our first cold day of the season. Off on my bike, there was snow in the hills, a freshness. Blue skies that we haven’t had in so long. Blue colliding with orange colliding with white.

Sometimes at work, you feel like it’s not worth it. You feel like as much as you create and as much as you find victories in your work, in yourself, in collaborations; you’re still at the bottom, fighting to breathe and get out from under heavy, wet blankets. And then two co-workers leave you a sweet bomber beer in your mailbox with a note of encouragement and joy smiles as it kicks up within. It’s the feeling of familiar friendship. In a place that still feels foreign sometimes, you have friends. I have friends. !! [be cool, be cool, be cool.] [this is me on the inside.]

Sitting at my beautiful workspace with a window that’s a frame for orange leaves and snow in the hilly distance, I can’t help but want to hold on to the feeling of looking out at Missoula, listening to The Lumineers…

After work, having some make-shift cocktails on the steps of the building whilst laughing hard at each other’s stories and waiting for a friend.

Watching the presidential debate at a completely packed bar. Everyone watching. Evan and me sitting with a dear friend from out of town. A dear friend who usually votes and represents the party opposing the party I support. [if you didn’t know, i am a huge fan of obama.]

We talked about how we have so much in common, believe in so many of the same things, want so many of the same things… It was so refreshing. Hope.

Exhausted, it was time to go home. I could not wait to collapse. As I rested my things on the kitchen/dining table, I was so touched to see the scene of our living room.

Recently, I bought two chairs that I could not stop thinking about. [i know, chairs.] But, alas, we couldn’t figure out where they would go in our home. [small spaces, adequate seating.] I kept telling Evan, I didn’t know where I wanted them to go, but they would be great “nook chairs.” Saying that as though everyone knows what a good nook looks like.

Last night, this scene…

western oak chair nook

He made me a nook! He made us a nook.

I love this home we’re building. Knowing that this is not our forever home, but this is the place we come to celebrate and toast this life. This is not a forever moment, but this is a bright time. These are not things we’ve known, what lays ahead? no clue, but this is our nook. This is our place. This place.

And then I just had to get rid of my pants [settle down, i wasn’t that thankful for the nook], because I had a bandaged knee and it was driving me crazy. I injured my knee a few days ago from sliding in kickball [totally worth it, i got to second]. Okay, I’m going to show you my knee now, but be forewarned, it’s nasty…

gross knee, blame kickball

So nasty.

I couldn’t go from taking a bandage to getting into our bed, because, well, it was all oozey and I had to let it dry out before getting into our sheets. [so gross, i know.]

So I had to lay on the couch and let my knee dry.

– Evan, will you read me a story?

He sat in one of our new chairs, next to me laying on the couch, and read Billy Collins. I was so happy. It was so perfect. I tried to stay awake a bit and soak it all in. I couldn’t.

Today, I try to remember every poem he read. Can’t remember a single one. Think this was in the mix…

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.


In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.


This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.


The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.


No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.


No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then


for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.


But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.


After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,


so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

— Aimless Love by Billy Collins

 

As I faded into sleep, the words melded into my thoughts. With my right hand, my fingers, on my left hip. Thinking about the shape of my hip, the feel of my own hip. How it’s been here, been there, changed, stayed the same. How many readings of Billy Collins this hip has rested through.

 

As if I were drunk, delirious, my thoughts drifted to how beautiful this hip is. So many things I could find wrong with this hip; but the feel, the shape, it’s so comfortable, so wild, so beautiful. Why would I ever hold on to anything else but this hip.

 

This love. This life. This time. This place. This boy. The feel. The shape. So comfortable. So wild. So beautiful.

 

[why would I hold on to anything else?]