I live at the bottom of a mountain. I do not mean this metaphorically, I mean this literally. This is the nature of my city – mountain peaks soar over it. Houses climb up the sides of these mountains – the high rent district, where there are fabulous views and possibly treacherous commutes on snow days. Where you can sometimes escape above the clouds and rain blanketing the citizens who live at lesser altitudes.
My neighbourhood in particular is located right in the spot where things transition abruptly from “not-mountain” to “mountain”. A few blocks from my house it is suddenly all very much “hill”. And Hannah’s school sits at the top. It is not that far, really, the uphill stretch. Maybe a block – but a block at a pretty impressive grade. Let me tell you that when you’re pushing a 2-year-old in a stroller (that he’s always trying to escape from) and trying to prod a 5-year-old along it feels far. Far and steep.
Twice every weekday I make the trip up that hill – once to drop Hannah off at kindergarten and once to pick her up. I always have Jacob in the stroller. And we are always in a rush. Because somehow, we are always running late by the time we get to the bottom of the hill. And as I break into a sweat 1/3 of the way up, I start cursing this twist of geography.
“If there must be a hill, why could the school not be at the bottom of it? You’re never in a rush leaving the school, but you’re always in a rush coming. If I had to walk uphill to get home I could take my time. Maybe pause for water breaks. And when I really needed to run it would be downhill and gravity would be my friend instead of my fricking mortal enemy. That’s right, gravity, you’re my enemy right now. I’m on to you. Wait, was that the bell? Crap! I hate this hill!“
Only it doesn’t really sound that way in my head. It sounds more gaspy.
“Puff puff puff wheeze cough! Gah! Puff puff. I. Puff puff. Hate. Puff puff. Really. Puff Gasp! Hate. Puff. Stupid! Puff. Hill! Puff puff. Why. Puff. Can’t school. Puff puff puff. Be bottom? Cough! Bell! Puff puff. Hate bell. WHEEEEZE!”
One day on the way to school I told Hannah that the hill haunted my dreams. Which is not untrue. I’m sure it’s good for me and I’ll get the much-sought-after buns of steel from climbing it, but that freaking hill mocks me and my stroller-pushing self every time I climb it. I’m all out of breath and sweaty by the time I get to the top. I have to take a moment to recover if I need to talk to Hannah’s teacher, or else my words are all unintelligible and she gets the concerned face and employs calming techniques. It’s not a good sign when someone starts employing calming techniques on you.
Still, I probably should not have shared this tidbit with Hannah. Because now every day she asks me if we can drive to school. Really, we could. I have a car. And since she arrives in the middle of the day, there isn’t a crush of parents in the car pool lane all vying for a spot. But I committed to walking. I committed to walking because it’s better for the planet and it’s better for us. I committed to walking because I took the bus to school and of course I always wanted to be able to walk. I committed to walking to get us all outdoors and taking part in our neighbourhood. And yet, as she proposes driving I question that commitment.
So far, I’ve kept with the walking plan. But it’s early days yet – I’ve only had to walk in the rain once. Come November, I wonder if I’ll be singing a different tune. Or maybe I’ll get better at scaling that mountain and I’ll run up it blithely in my galoshes, inclement weather be damned. Probably not, though. I do very few things blithely, especially in galoshes. Although I do love to say galoshes, I don’t really like to wear them.
So, tell me. Are there any hills that haunt your dreams? Any peaks that you have had to scale that tortured you and caused you to curse your very existence? And did you ever get the much-sought-after buns of steel? Tell me, I need to know.
September’s Crafting my Life series is about relationships. On the last Thursday of the month, which just happens to be 2 days from now, I will include a link up. To participate, write a post on creativity anytime in September, or track down a post you’ve written on the subject sometime in the past, and add yourself to the list. Then read everyone else’s ideas and thoughts and be inspired! Check out the link-ups from January, February and March to get a feel for how it works.