Who, exactly, knows what it is like to be normal? I’d like someone to point out to me a normal person, and allow me to pose a question or two. I’d like to know what its like to be normal, but imagining what that would be like is like trying to imagine what it would be like to be smarter than you are. Besides, I don’t think there is one single human on this planet that is normal. But still, if you’ve never had a brilliant notion just pop into your head, I don’t see how you can ever really imagine what it would be like. People asked Einstein how he came up with the idea of the time-space continuum, and he said it just occurred to him. The kinds of things that occur to me are much more likely to be that I need to buy peanut butter or that if bats really do sleep upside-down their fur must get all ruffled and itchy, since it would be falling ‘against the grain’. Those are the things that occur to me; not relativity. So I can’t really imagine what it would be either exceptionally brainy, nor what it would be like to be normal, but my day today was a smidgeon more normal -normal for me, anyway – than any have been since that fateful, portentous day when it occurred to me to build a house.
That was an apocalyptic idea, really. Ever since then, everything has been, just, off. I haven’t skied for something like a year and a half. I haven’t thrown pots regularly for just as long. Instead I’ve been wrestling with house plans, jousting with contractors (not to mention lawyers, consumer protection activists, attorneys general and the like) when I’m not lying in a darkened room with a cool compress held to my head, listlessly formulating the outlines of a suicide note, that is. And all that time spent fretting over all those insistent various and sundries has kept me from having escapades, which means I have less to write about. But then who can have escapades sans a merry crew of fun-loving friends, and I’ve alienated all of them with my manic panics about getting stuff done, which meant that anytime anyone whose first name I actually knew came within shouting distance from this beastly house, I was asking them to help put up siding or bang some sorts of boards together. I’ve been insufferable. And exhausting.
So it was really nice to get out and get physically exhausted today. I dragged out the ol’ skis and tromped up to Porphyry Peak for a romp, discovering, to no one’s surprise at all that I’m absurdly out of shape. I was huffing and puffing and working up a sweat on trails I used to take just to reach the trail that would mark the beginning of my intended romp. I always thought people were sort of pretending to be impressed with my athletic perseverance, but now that I’m outer-of-shape than I’ve ever been in my life (crying over ruined solar panels is not an aerobic activity, we should surmise…), I see what they meant.
On the plus side, Allie-the-dog is in top form, which should surprise us all, since it was only a couple of years ago that she was down with a spinal injury, and the vet said she’d probably never run again. The thousands of dollars I spent on acupuncture, additive-free food, massage and a motley assortment of voodoo worked. Allie flew up that mountain, bounding through the snow drifts after rabbits outdoing me by miles. And to think that one of my excuses for not going skiing was that it would be lonely without Allie. Maybe I’m the one who needs some voodoo.
On and equally happy note, it seems that some kindly someone did poke a pin or two into a voodoo doll of the Tubbs snowshoe company for me. Last winter, in the deepest darkness of a pre-dawn blizzard while snowshoeing to work, I blew out a strap and had a harrowing time limping along like Roald Amundsen stumbling toward the South Pole, only without the dogsleds or the daring-do. At that time I discovered that my snowshoes were so outdated that not only did they not make those straps anymore, there probably wasn’t a warehouse in all of creation that still had any. They said I’d have to upgrade – at a cost – to a newer binding, regardless of the “lifetime” warranty. Miffed, I fixed the binding using the cobbling equivalent of baling wire and bubblegum, and forgot about it. But then this winter started staring me in the eye; presenting me with the grim probability of another pre-dawn breakdown, only this time my stumble would trigger an avalanche, which would carry me down the mountain, bouncing me off trees and tumbling me over and under boulders until I land on the icy highway below, destined to be run over by the plow truck.
Although I expected to have to pay a bunch for new bindings, and possibly even just go ahead and buy new snowshoes, and although I dearly loved my old, old, valiantly disfigured snowshoes, with their crampons scuffed to mere nibs, the airplane-grade aluminum frame half sawed-through from the time I was cutting down trees in waist-high snow and the various pop-riveted seams popped open through miles and miles of slogging along, I gave them up to the local dealer for evaluation. Meanwhile, I went ahead and ordered a new pair on line. Perhaps it is this sort of surrendering to inevitability which wrenches the wheels of fate away from disaster, perhaps not. In any case, the day after my new snowshoes arrived, I got a call from the Tubbs dealer saying that Tubbs had gone ahead and replaced my snowshoes with brand spanking new ones, for free.
Even more; the ones they gave me were vastly superior not only to my old ones, but to the ones I had purchased. These shoes have steel crampons instead of aluminum ones, the fanciest, slickest bindings you can imagine and even climbing ramps (for the uninitiated, those are little frames which you can pop up under your heels so when you’re climbing steep hills your foot is more level. Tres posh.). Wish me luck. So far there isn’t really enough snow to snowshoe, so I continue to bike to work. With my helmet, goggles, puffy coat and reflective safety apparel I resemble nothing so much as a neon bug, ticking along the snowy road. Yeah, well, it may not be normal, but it beats a bumper-to-bumper commute, doesn’t it?