I’m in Salt Lake City right now, the flying mecca of the country, finding my way among the “cool kids” of the flying community and on a rapid learning curve with my paraglider.
I left Ashland a week ago. Since my life turned upside down–dog died, relationship died, lost my apartment, quit my job–rather than mope, I decided to live out some version of my fantasy of being a vagabond-on-the-road. I’m happy to report that I have the hobo-couture down : mismatched socks, clashing tops-and-bottoms, odd scarves, oversized hats–whatever is on top of the pile in my van. And I’m comfortable with the lack of luxuries; cooking on a campstove is fine with me, and my nightly star-gazing ritual beats any tile-and-porcelain bathroom. Still, the experience has had its lows: like finding myself shivering at an RV park in Winnemucca, Nevada, drinking a beer, and eating leftover soup in the dark–the carrots and broccoli turned into a indistinguishable baby food mush. The weird thing was that the park was full of RVs sitting like empty second homes, with nary a soul in sight–no fellow nomads, no old folk to play Blackjack, or Go Fish with. Where was everyone? I strummed a few songs on guitar and tried to sing, but my sinuses were clogged. I gave up and laid in bed at 7:30 and called a few friends back home. My cell phone was roaming, but I didn’t care. I felt lost. So much for the romance of the open road.
Things are better since I arrived in Salt Lake. I am staying with a woman named Lori–a fifty-something drop dead gorgeous bundle of energy who hang glides, plays video games, and skateboards across her dining room into her kitchen. She is a mentor of sorts– modeling a way to live and fly that I admire. She’s got a Golden Retriever that stumbles around with an oversized Tigger in her mouth and four cats that meow all the time, which takes some getting used to. I like it that from her backyard you can climb up the mountain and launch from the top.
Days here have a terrific rhythm. With all this moving about, I find comfort in whatever regularity I find. Like migrating birds, the pilots gather on the south side of The Point in the morning, launching into the pink sunrise and fly till around 11:00. Just before sunset, you can see the same group launching from the North side. After landing, its huge grins, beers, and conversation. In just a few days, they all feel like long lost friends. I feel like I’ve been here for ten years.
I’m hoping to get “signed-off” with my pilots license in a week, and then head to Nebraska for Thanksgiving with my family, who I don’t see enough of. I’ll be back in Ashland in early December, completing writing assignments, and then I’ll head south after that.
I miss the familiarity of Ashland, my regular coffeeshops, my friends, the farm, the endless organic veggies, and certain views: like Pompedour Butte at sunset, or Grizzly Peak dusted in snow. I am grateful that I have a place to miss.