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?






5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Veronica
    Dec 09, 2015 @ 12:04:19

    thank you. thank you so much for your words that give life to my feelings that I never knew how to explain. I was in bishop with someone recently, someone with whom it all began two years ago in the buttermilks, and this thanksgiving I ended up being the one driving away, car smaller and smaller just like you said, reluctantly back to Southern California. maybe I was hoping he would chase me down or something. but all I needed to realize was that I was getting closer to myself. it hurts that driving away from bishop brought me closer to me. because I have so much love for it. the milks. but you’re right, there’s nothing to feed off of our anger there. the rocks will keep shutting us down, too. maybe next time I can be more patient and learn how to be angry even in the mountains. anyway, thank you for provoking these thoughts. I appreciate your words a lot.


  2. Georgie Abel
    Dec 10, 2015 @ 10:04:49

    Hey Veronica, thank you so much for your comment. how to be angry in the mountains…wow, that’s something to think about for sure! let me know if you ever figure that one out. are you on FB? let’s connect on there 🙂


  3. Cindy Abel
    Dec 10, 2015 @ 10:12:52

    This makes me feel happy and sad at the same time- another gem. Love it

    Sent from my iPhone



  4. Kate
    Dec 22, 2015 @ 03:01:59

    Great post, beautifully worded. Thank you for sharing this


  5. Rachel
    Jul 01, 2016 @ 16:10:51

    I read the version of this that was published in the Climbing Zine and cried. I was surprised how hard it hit me. My best friend/ we were complicatedly together graduated and moved away from our school in NY to a job in a very short amount of time. He’s also the one who got me into and taught me everything about climbing. I cried everyday at the end of the semester and wasn’t able to get out to climb. Weekend climbing is the best way for me to escape the world to return to Earth while at school. And now I didn’t have my best friend to do so with, or anyone else, for that matter. After the semester ended, I was on a 21-day backpacking trip in Montana for my minor and that helped me get my mind off of the stress of school, the heartbreak of him having to leave, and the normal grind of daily routine. Living is so much more simple in the woods; youre only focused on the necessities of surviving and on the beautiful wilderness around you.


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