It referred to Mt. Hood, the big snowcapped beauty I would stare at when I lived in Portland 19 years ago. NINETEEN FRIGGIN YEARS!! I was just out of college, lost and found on the Rose City streets. Elliott Smith played secret solo shows in sad bars while his rock band Heatmiser rocked in clubs. Team Dresch began in a basement of a house called The Curse where only girls were allowed. Even the wonderful drummer, Scotty Plouf of Built to Spill, sitting in until they got Marci Marinez to play had to leave after the set. We did self defense exercises between bands and tugged our arm warmers up that we made from tube socks. The Space Room made the best Bloody Marys in town and I stayed up all night with my new dyke badge of honor and hefty lines of my new friend crystal meth. I had no idea then all the people we would lose, all the women I would love, and that I would ever really break up with my true love of defensiveness: cigarettes. Mt Hood watched over all of us, dragging our hearts around Smith's alphabet town, some lugging black tar heroin, some with the dirty speed on their back, an itchy monkey with a burn, and some just dying from the lack of light. But we'd all look up and trace the snow paths down the big rock, tears spilling down the sky in the distance, and we'd wonder, What Happens Next, World, and who can we tell about the pounding in our chests?
Next August I'll return to Oregon for this race. It's the world's biggest relay. 12 of us will arrive, some of us strangers, some old friends, some even siblings, with 2 vans, chests full of snacks, and 199 miles in front of us. Over the course of 36 hours, we will take turns running legs of approximately 6 miles each, 3 times over. That's 18 miles in 36 hours. That last leg will be a real bitch. At the end, through night and gravel and farmland and heat and more mountains and Portland, we'll all arrive together and look at the wide ocean, me looking at all that salt, back over and over 20 years. I will be 43 by then, my wild grey Leo mane tied up and bopping through the Oregon terrain: no cigarrettes, no crystal meth, no lunatic girlfriends, and with any luck at all, no excruciating pain this time round.
Come with me. I started training this week. It's hilarious already.