Crossroads By Carolyn
Last column I mentioned that a key turning point in my life was when I decided to drop out of college after a semester and start traveling. The other day I was thinking about another turning point. That point was four years later when I decided to leave Finland and go back to college. This was perhaps the more significant turning point, as it led my life onto the positive course that it’s on now. Why am I telling you this?
Normally I have a relatively clear idea of what I want to write my column about before I sit down to write. This time I don’t. It’s probably a symptom of my life still being in a greater state of flux than normal. In the last seven months, I left and divorced my husband, left my job for a new one and moved from six years of relative isolation in the Colorado mountains to the city of Minneapolis.
We are losing the wild. Out the window, the trees on the mountainside sway and curl in the wind. If I walk up the driveway a little, I can look into the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Wilderness. Sure, there are bears, mountain lions, and other wild animals, but there are also trails and planes flying in the sky above. A cellphone may even work. The wilderness area was created and delineated as a place where humans could connect with the past, nature, and with the notion of vastness and expansiveness.
I’ve been to some pretty shitty punk houses around the country, houses that provide a lifestyle only slightly better than what you might in the slums of Calcutta. You know the ones—bathrooms that make port-o-potties look luxurious, carpets and mattresses stained with blood, puke, piss, and booze, holes in the walls from fights that ensued over something no one can remember in the morning.
I opened my notebook to a blank sheet and wrote “Things I want in life” on top. I allowed myself to begin with material things to get me started, but material things immediately disappeared off the list. That’s not to say money isn’t necessary for having some of the things on my list, but having stuff really isn’t that important to me.
As a girl, I always fought the image of the “ideal” woman. The ideal woman was thin, pretty, and tricked into thinking that life was all about meeting a man, getting married and raising kids in the suburbs. She liked shopping and holding men’s hands. I absolutely refused to be her.
I am in love with leaves and the final explosion of color before the starkness of winter. Some people consider spring to be the time fullest of life and action. I can definitely see their point—sprouting buds and the emergence of everything green. But for me, the fall is all about life. It embodies movement and change. It is in the edge, the margin of the season before everything is locked away in ice, that I feel the real pulse of life and earth. Around my home, the leaves are changing, the bears are searching for food anywhere t
I recently attended a meeting that was meant to be an open forum for the business community and environmental community to better understand one another. There was some clearing up of misconceptions, like just because someone owns a business doesn’t mean she wants to cover all the parks in concrete. Other misconceptions and stereotypes were annoyingly reinforced.
“Crossroads” is more and more becoming the perfect title for this column and an increasingly accurate reflection of my life. Except crossroads can be a little misleading. It is rare in life to have such obvious choices and often you didn’t realize you were at a crossroads until you are already on your path. And sometimes it is better not to choose, but to close your eyes and jump and let gravity sort it out.
In the early morning hours on October 29th, the wildfire came. I woke up to howling wind ripping through the canyon, shaking the window panes, and freeing the blue tarp that covers the firewood. As I lay mostly asleep, the thought entered my mind of what would happen if a power line fell in the forest. Still, the idea of a fire was rather abstract and distant and I fell back asleep.