Every morning when I drive Finn and Fred to their school, there’s a turn we take down into the valley that houses it where we get a great view of the Cascade Mountains. (The mountains aren’t there every morning. Sometimes clouds hide them. Or maybe they just leave.) Seven mornings out of ten, I’m going to say, it’s a thrill to see the mountain/sun/cloud layout of that particular day. Sometimes there’s no haze and the mountains are dark and ultra crisp at the edges. Some mornings there’s a bright veil of clouds and the range goes pale blue on us. If they’re visible, they always give off some kind of epic vibe, like they’re a stop on the road to Mordor or Valhalla, and if you could zoom in close you’d find a dragon walking along a ridge, or a wizard/hermit and a knight emerging from a cave together deep in conversation. Whatever story I subconsciously attach to the view feels personal, like someday I’m going to make it over there and be part of it all myself.
When Dave was studying Social Ecology back at his university in Australia, he was taught that a child starts developing a real sense of place at around nine years of age. I find this entertaining since we moved from Port Chester, New York to Seattle just before I turned nine (we drove across country with a couple of cars and a moving van) and we landed in Seattle smack on my ninth birthday. Way to be on the nose, place.
I google-imaged the Great Plains when I was thinking about this, just to confirm my feelings. Hot fucking dog, no way. All that flat, all that wide open, all that exposure. It gives me agoraphobia to contemplate it. I understand that you get open skies in trade, and hey, sky, sure. But surely we can agree that you’re far more vulnerable to stampeding hordes of invaders when you’re hanging out in plain view on a prairie. You’re fucked. They can see you from 500 miles away. There’s nowhere to hide. Also, all that sameness of topography makes me go insane from boredom. LOOK, LOOK AGAIN, WHAT DO YOU SEE, CORRECT, NOTHING, NOTHING AGAIN, NOTHING OVER HERE, OR OVER HERE, OR OVER HERE, FOREVER EVERYWHERE NEVER ANYTHING UNTIL THE GRAVE THE END GOODNIGHT.
For a sensitive lighting princess, the shock of Australia was something else. It’s so bright down there it might as well be a whole planet closer to the sun. We lived in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, which were also nothing like mountains I knew. They were flat, like tabletops. Our first shared house was in a little town called Leura, and it sounded like Jurassic Park every afternoon at five when the cockatoos got off work and took off shrieking through the valley, and the holy-fuck-where-am-I feeling peaked.
What else? Where else?