I swear the air smells funny. It really does. People say the air up there smells crisp, fresh and clean, but I get something a bit different. When I first took a whiff of mountain air it reminded me of a strange and distant memory—the smell of the sheep eyeball we watched get dissected in 1st grade. I’m serious, I can see myself and 4 other classmates sitting around a small round table in the project area, sitting in tiny multicolored chairs, watching in horror and amazement as Mrs. Wile took apart a single eyeball in a clear Tupperware as it sat in a water-like liquid. That memory sits on the edge of thought as I breath in the cold air of the mountains. And, for some reason, it’s still a pleasant thing—the scent of the mountains. Very strange, I know. The unexpected placement of that memory continues to boggle me.
The mountains do strange things to the mind, and honestly we all could use some mountain time. Mountains, they let your mind wander. They remind you of lives you once lived, the feelings you once felt. All in such an unexpected way. But they don’t punish you like doubt or regret does, they just sit there, massive and magnificent in front of you. And you don’t expect anything else from them except that. There’s such a peace in it.
Sometimes you need something strong, something being all that it can and all that it ever needs to be. Because, sometimes you feel like string raveling undone off the spool onto the floor. You feel like the roadrunner losing the ground you’re standing on waiting for that plunge that you all too well expect and know. Having something like a mountain in front of you, it does something. It stays strong for you.
In elementary school, I was one of those kids who would sit on top of the monkey bars during recess. We were like trapeze acrobats swinging down off of them. I was pretty good at it too, but one time I overextended my swing and found myself landing on my back onto the wood chips. I remember laying there gasping for air that wasn’t there, terrified at this dying-like feeling, but then I found my gaze up to the sky. It was bright blue with bright white fluffy clouds, and it was then that I found my breath. This was the first memory I have of getting the breath knocked out of me, and when shit hits the fan I can feel those wood chips digging into my back with that same burning in my chest. I discovered it then, I and still know it now, I need something like mountains. Because when I stand in front of something so huge, so entirely large, I don’t have to think about inhaling. It comes easy. I get to feel small. The aching of my longings, the worries of my discontent, the pain from disappointment, it all somehow gets blown away by the air up in the mountains, and I’m able to breath.
The weird air up there, the unexpected scent of it, there’s something funny about it, I swear.