buttermilk country

Do you know about Buttermilk Country?

Do you know about her sunrises, the color of a tangerine, about her clouds that milk the sky? Do you know about her star-dense nights that drag on for weeks, and about how she will breathe for you?

I stood barefoot in my driveway and watched him drive off. I thought that surely, any second, he would slam on the brakes, turn around and come back for me. But his car just got smaller and smaller. I wasn’t sure if I was starting to die, or if I had been dying all along and was just then coming back to life.

Do you know about missing someone? Do you know about missing yourself?

The city had me caring about things like bikini waxes and cold brew coffee. I was becoming so normal that it scared me. And my misery only added to my normalcy, it helped me fit in. I came to understand the people flipping each other off on the freeway. Before, I just had to wonder about them.

Do you know about those people?

Cities breed misery, they capitalize on it. Even the smallest annoyance gets pumped full of air. Our suffering gets tangled in the rush hour traffic and bounces off the billboards, it’s held by the smog and given a backbone by glossy magazine covers. It’s so loud and buzzing that our sadness never gets to speak in a voice that’s actually true. It comes out as cars relentlessly honking at each other, bar fights, and worse.

Do you know about that sadness that we all feel and do you forget sometimes that everyone feels it?

I had to leave. I packed up my Subaru and left the Bay Area on a sunny Thursday afternoon. I knew exactly where I had to go.

So there I was, being all sad, climbing up boulders, and lugging my heart around on my hip like an unruly toddler. I tried to smile at folks. But that kind of energy can’t survive for too long out here. Unlike the city, misery can’t breed in the mountains. There’s nothing to reinforce it or make it real. All of that acting like I was dying BS didn’t have anything to root into, and it just got blown away with the wind.

Do you know about the goodness in the mountains?

Soon I came back to myself in this big, good way with the Buttermilks as my home and breathing for me. I still can’t thank them enough. I also can’t thank my friends and family enough. Thank you.

We’re all in the descent now, there is a darkness to these days that feels deep. I’m being pulled downwards, and my feet have grown roots so thick that I can stand anywhere now, on my own. I am tangled in the planet. My belly has softened and my lungs can turn the frosty winter air into something warm and steaming. Even my eyes look different.

Do you know about coming back to yourself, about how I hope you’ll never abandon yourself again?

I opened my eyes this morning just as the first beams of sun touched the Eastern Sierra. The night had felt so long, like a lifetime, full of colorful and strange dreams. I woke often. I checked the clock again and again.  Surely, I thought, the sun would never rise and it will be dark forever. He’s not coming back this time.

Do you know about how the sun will rise, day after goddamn day, about how his steadiness will even start to get annoying? Really, you’ll ask, arms folded, laughing a little. Are you serious? Again? Aren’t you tired? His light, blinding you, will give you your answer. Do you know about how you can trust this, how you can trust yourself, how it wasn’t never him who you wanted to slam on the brakes and come back for you, how it was you, how it was always you?

Do you know about Buttermilk Country?