Sunday, January 12, 2014


I'm starting a new recurring series where I write about memories. I've wanted to do this for awhile so here goes...this memory was fresh in my mind from Saturday when it rained heavily in D.C. I wanted to take Leroy out for a run and the moment before I set foot out the door the rain came tumbling down. I paused for 30 seconds at the door pondering my options. I almost took him back up and worked out downstairs in my complex, when I remembered this memory.

Funny, the end of the memory sticks out much more than the beginning.

Maybe my Pops had it stuck in his head that he was hiking on Saturday. Maybe he promised my Mom. Maybe he had a rough week at the office and wanted to lose sight of it on the mountain. Maybe he just thought it'd be a lot of fun. Or maybe he just hates being confined at home so much that he wanted the adventure. I never asked him. But he took my sister and I (she would've been about 9, me 6) hiking.

But unlike previous occasions hiking, the rain was pummeling the driveway before we got in the car and I remember it splattering on the windshield as we drove toward Camelback Mountain. My parents would chide me later in life because I always thought the name of it was, "Camelback Mountain we climb." Apparently the 'we climb' part was accurate but not attached to the formal appellation. Whatever.

Off we went and the first thing I remember about the rain was just how damn muddy my shoes got. And the cold. Damn it was cold. I can't recollect how far we hiked, maybe a 1/4 of the way to the summit when we stopped in our typical resting cave which overlooks much of Paradise Valley (great name for a town, eh?).

I remember my sister was with us and I want to say that she was atypically chipper on this particular day despite the wet conditions. We holed up in this cave and I remember my Dad yodeling. He loved to yodel. He would belt at the top of his lungs, "Yo-de-loooo-deeeeeeeee". He bellowed it out as if my Mom could hear us a few miles away. Shit, she probably could. Her hearing is still as sharp as a razor.

I remember feeling confused. Why were we hiking today? No one else was there, resting in our special spot. We used to feel intruded upon when we had to share our spot...but today, no one was encroaching our territory. My teeth were chattering. I think my Dad is crazy. He's still yodeling while the rain cascades down the mountain obscuring our view of the city. He's smiling and I'm practically resentful. Why is he torturing us?!? It's so cold! I'm all muddy! And here he is yelling like he just won the lottery!

I'm sure I started complaining. I probably threw a tantrum and demanded to go home. I have little memory of descending. I mostly remember sobbing. Feeling upset to be thrust in such an adverse situation. Shit, wasn't Barney on TV??? And looney tunes Pops is primally skipping about throwing salt into the wound!

What sticks out the most is arriving home. My Mom makes hot chocolate and I took a hot shower.

 And nothing, and I mean nothing felt better. That hot chocolate was incredible. The miniature marshmallows were just floating on top and I kept picking them out and plopping more in the mug.

I was so utterly miserable climbing that mountain. It was terrible. My clothes were soggy and my core was shivering but now here I am warm and content.

And so when I was staring out the window as Leroy looked up at me before the start of our run...debating whether or not I should brave the rain....I remembered this story and wanted to give Leroy a memory like I had. Except, the way we differ was he loved pouncing in the puddles during the trip and disliked the towel drying once we got home. And ya know what?

I enjoyed being soaked too.

Later, when the rain abated, Ash and I went for a walk and I told her how I ran with a smile on my face despite running in 50 degree rain. She said something like, "Well, sometimes you just get stuck in the rain and you just gotta make do." For sure, I replied. But sometimes you set off to INTENTIONALLY run out in the rain....not that I'm a glutton for punishment (well, I can be) but it's fun to inure ourselves with a little hardship and actually find the will and the positive in the tough.

And you'll be thankful you did because you'll keep that memory in your pocket.

For a rainy day. 


Anonymous said...

Great story and such a wonderful memory for you. Learning to dance in the rain is a great metaphor for dealing with whatever life gives us, also. Because no one escapes the rainy times. No one. It is so wonderful that our minds allow us to savor these great moments, these fun memories often in our lives. You have so many more to make.

Anonymous said...

Great memory there! Too many of us

Anonymous said...

don't appreciate the rainey day moments in life. Nice you look back on and share that fun childhood moment.

Anonymous said...

Your dad and the Great Santini- all masochists. He should have grabbed you by the ankles and hung you upside down from that cave. He probably forced you to climb all the way to the top and then demanded you and your sister carry him down. I'm surprised he allowed your mum to even give you any chocolate- was it laced with brandy?
Just teasing a bit here. Any day can turn into an adventure worth remembering if approached with enthusiasm and vigor. Your family has enough of both to serve the county.

Anonymous said...

I think memories are some of the best ways to to find joy and happiness in our day to day lives. Loved reading this. Someday you may be creating similar memories with your own children, and of course, Leroy.

Andy said...

Your shoes might stink once they dry. Throw em in the clothes washer with detergent and let them air dry. They'll be like new. I know that stinky wet shoe smell. It's hella gross bro.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful written story of appreciation, gratitude, and the value of juxtaposing comfort with suffering.