“My Adventures” by ElleZymn, Chapter One: Rocky Mountain High

29 03 2005

Remember the standard, elementary school, first-day-back-to-class assignment? Every year it was the same thing. “Okay, boys and girls, take out a sheet of notebook paper, and write your name in the top right corner.” Then the teacher would pick up a brand new stick of chalk and write these words on her pristine blackboard. “What I Did Over Summer Vacation.”

Right now I feel a little like I did then. How do you condense a whole summer — the glorious sweat and grime of playing outside till after dark, the neighborhood watermelon-seed-spitting contests, the fights with your sister in the back seat of the car during those long hours heading to the beach? As a ten-year-old, future best-selling author, your head exploding with a plethora of summer sights, smells, sounds, and sensations*, how do you capture their elusive essense in mere words with a number-two pencil on a single page?

You don’t. You just make up something lame, turn it in, and get your grade. The teacher is only buying time to set up her grade book anyway.

So, here’s the update I promised. You know, the one that details my travel adventures. The one you’ve all been anticipating with bated breath and palpitating heart. (Yes, you have. Don’t contradict me.) And fret not, faithful friends, for the saying is trustworthy. Unlike elementary school reports, I’m not going to make this up.

I arrived at the airport near Eagle, Colorado, midafternoon, Sunday March 6. It was 50 degrees outside. If you ever want a foretaste of glory divine, spring skiing comes mighty close. When I arrived at my dad’s condo, the door flew open and a leprechaun sprang out and pounced on me. At least it looked like a leprechaun. Luke, in army-green shorts, a similarly hued t-shirt, and a jaunty green felt hat with a bright red feather — which perfectly matched the color of his hair and eyebrows, by the way — grabbed me in a signature Luke hug. Very affectionate. Leaves bruises.

Thus began five days of slow-paced, wonderful fun. We talked about life, love, God, Asian cuisine. We cooked. (Asian cuisine.) We hit the slopes. Or not. We read books. One afternoon I went for a long walk alone. A wet snow began to fall, sticking to my clothes, brushing my face, gumming my eyelashes, making me laugh. I passed a swollen creek, snowbanks still piled on either side like thick cake frosting, heavy flakes dancing their way to a marriage with the rippled water, mallard ducks swimming behind a sticky wet bridal veil — calm, content, as though the promised spring weren’t hiding behind white lace. I wished I’d brought my camera. Instead I stood for a long time, fixing the picture in my mind. Feeling it’s beauty. Not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

I have eclectic taste in music, and this is a good thing. Because the time with Luke was Arvo Part. But, on Friday, when my parents and sibs arrived, we shifted to, oh, let’s say, um, Flight of the Bumble Bee. A wee bit more frantic with ever so slight obsessive-compulsive overtones. But still great fun.

Luke left Saturday morning, and the rest of us hit the mountain. These people are about skiing, baby. And eating dinner out at nice restaurants. And cocktail parties. And bars with a Julliard-trained pianist where we were asked to get up and sing (and we got up and sang). By ones. By twos. By the whole family, a la the Von Trapps. I love my family. We’re all artsy, wild, weird people, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We flew back to Dallas Tuesday, the 15th. I did laundry. I worked out. I repacked. Then I left again on the 17th and flew to California for the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. It was wonderful in so many ways. Indeed, I have much to say about Mount Hermon. Good stuff. Exciting developments. Cool encounters and opportunities. Too much really. You know, one of the things they teach you at these conferences is that you should be considerate of your readers. Don’t wear them out with long, overly complicated chapters. And when you do end a chapter, do so in such a way that your reader will just have to turn the page to see what happens next. Yeah. That’s what they tell you.

Until “Chapter Two: It Never Rains in California,” then. Good night.

*not to be confused with a plethora of pinatas.


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