Simi Monheit: Passing Through

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Simi Monheit’s most recent trip to the Sierra is the source of fond memories and dread for the future.

This had been a hard one. I shrugged the backpack off my shoulders, thrilled when it fell from my hips, wallowing in the lightness of only my full weight on my shattered legs. During this backpacking trek through the High Sierras it was obvious that I’m older than I ever was. But younger than I’ll ever be. So, for as long as I can, I’ll go. I take small cautious steps on the uphills, and even slower and more timid ones on the way down. I’m not there to break records, I’m there, I’m there… well, maybe that’s reason enough. I’m there.

We drove through Yosemite on the way out. Without reservations, we couldn’t stop. We were only allowed to pass through.

It was beautiful, all green and piney. And we volleyed back and forth, “remember that time when…” In the 20 years that we’ve lived in California we’d visited Yosemite enough times  to have enough stories to pull us along much of the road. Soothing and sappy stories. Good times.

It was slow at first, the patches of scorched trees. A few here and there, but the patches kept getting larger until we were driving alongside miles upon miles of scorched white trunks with black limbs, creepy landscapes straight out of a Tim Burton movie. Pine forests replaced with chaparral spotted with zombies, hundreds, thousands of ravaged brown, black and white limbs, grasping, and gasping.

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We weren’t talking any more. This was more than a perfunctory “moment of silence.” There have been decades of silence. Neglect. Regret. Grief.

It felt like Sunday nights when I was a kid, that lump in your stomach, that dark dread of what’s coming. The safety and warmth of the weekend all false, the big blackness out there, the blackness that will swallow you whole.

Just passing through. We were just passing through.

What have we done?

With a Perspective, I’m Simi Monheit.

Simi Monheit is a transplanted Brooklynite who writes fiction in Monte Sereno.