I could never, and will never attempt to write a piece about Bishop that actually does it justice. But, it’s on my mind tonight.
There is nothing more effective than a trip to Bishop to reset you, to show you the beauty in the world and in turn show you the beauty in yourself, to remind you that when you get out of the city that people are still good, to mend a broken heart, to get you psyched and organized and calm, to keep your ego in check, to make you feel strong and then weak and in control and then totally lacking control.
For me, Bishop is like a big mirror–I always come away from that place with some newfound knowledge about myself, of who I am, where I’m messing up and what’s working. All of this wisdom comes to me in such a strange way–by climbing up big ass boulders and drinking beer with friends and watching sunsets and being cold.
I always have a pre-Bishop freak out in the car on the way down there. Sometimes it happens the second I leave, other times not until I’m on the iconic, comforting dirt roads that remind me of my grandparent’s ranch and mean that the Buttermilks are getting closer. But the freak out always happens. I make really high pitched squealing noises, clap, meow, say ohhhhh my godddddddddddddddddd and point to every beautiful thing I see, look at that, and that! look at that mountain. it is so good. and that! wow. WHAT IS MY LIFE. we are so lucky. we are blessed. i feel great right now. thank god. thank god I’m going to bishop. do you know how bad i neeeeeeeed this trip? yay. YAY. oh my GOD. JESUS CHRYSTLER. look at that, like LOOK at it. what is this place IT IS TOO BEAUTIFUL. I throw my hands on my head, cover my mouth, make weird noises, kick my feet around, exhale really loud, punch the person I’m riding down with a few times, in a nice way, and just have a good ol’ American freak out. Oh, and I cry. Sometimes just a little bit. But I always tear up.
My friends who I’ve been to Bishop with before know this about me, they gear up for the freak out, tell unknowing new friends about how by the time we get to 395 I will probably stick my head out the window and scream YAYYYYYY BISHOP as I fling my arms around in the wind as tears stream down my face. And not to be alarmed if I start speaking in french or playing air guitar or acting like a cat.
Bishop makes my heart grow. The beauty of it, the climbs that are perfect, the way my hair smells after a long weekend down there, the bloody finger tips, the sunsets–the place makes you fall in love. I also think the climbers in Bishop: the first timer, the strong girl, the old man with his dog, the climbing team from Los Angeles, the drunk dude, the woman with her baby who accidentally eats dirt, even the bros who take their shirts off in 30 degree weather and run laps on The Hulk–they make me smile like nothing else. I love it all, I love them all. True love. Soulmate kind of love.
Yes, soulmate. Don’t worry, I’m not so crazy that I think Bishop is my soulmate. Well. Maybe. But…what I learned this weekend was that no matter how hurt I am or you are, how hard we’ve tried for something to get shit in return, whatever you have done wrong in your life, how hard it is to forgive, however broken our hearts may be, that it is possible to love again and always, right now. That you are a being capable of love, in the purest most adorable way, and that you deserve so much more than you even know. Do not put up with people who are reckless with your heart, tell the truth tell the truth tell the truth, get psyched to give, psyched to receive, psyched to know that any love given is not love wasted, even if it is seemingly unnoticed or even rejected.
I look up at the Milky Way, a dense band of magic, see a star shoot out of the corner of my eye, catch it in time to watch as it burns and dies. I remember back to when I was eighteen, how I watched a shooting star and wished to find my soul mate someday. The memory makes me smile, because the air is perfumed with campfire, I hear climbers laughing, the Eastern Sierras form the horizon, the night sky is packed with stars, my fingers sting and pulse, and I can’t help but feel that my naive eighteen year old wish has in fact come true, but not in the way I assumed it would. I notice that I am surrounded by my soulmates–the Sierras and the Buttermilks, my friends and my family, granite and sandstone, yoga and breathing, climber bros and babes, the sunsets and the coyotes, the cold nights in Bishop and the warm nights in my bed, all of it. Every last thing. Mine and yours to love.
Having a good love life has very little to do with finding a person to love, but instead about being head over heels in love with the world and all the things in it, despite your hurts and how much it scares you and how you apparently hate everything. It’s a willingness to get a little psyched every now and then, or maybe you get a lot psyched and freak out in the car on the way to Bishop.
This weekend I learned not to worry about losing, because nothing good gets away and love never fails.