Saturday, April 2, 2011

Thursday Night, somewhere between Houston and Bogota

I love the view out of an airplane window. I don’t so much enjoy looking at the ground; the cars, roads and farms creating a magnificent mosaic… it’s the clouds that consume my imagination. The thunderheads.

Right now I think I am over the Gulf of Mexico, en-route to Bogota, or more specifically, Chia, Colombia (I think most of these posts get written on an airplane). Its magnificent out, a golden glow, shinning through the haze at 40,000ft comes through my window. The thunderheads seem to be scraping the mesosphere… looked that one up on the dictionary (I’m currently in the stratosphere). The sky itself is a deep purple as night falls on the lower atmosphere, and I can see a perpetual pink strip of sunset higher up… into the bright blue of springtime evenings and afternoons.

I missed the California coastline this March. Last year, Mitch and I spent 3 weeks traveling around between Santa Barbara and San Clemente, visiting Lyd and inhaling that salty, warm atmosphere and dirty burritos. We raced and played for most of the month, it was surreal.

Time changes situations and circumstances, and instead I spent this March living at the Oympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. I was away from my own bed, away from Karina and my friends, on foreign roads and surrounded by strangers, Super-churches and Air Force and Army bumper stickers.

Don’t get me wrong, I was honored to be living with some of the finest athletes in the world, and undoubtedly I leave wiser and more prepared for the season. I believe it is easier to learn from the challenging situations than from the comfortable however. What I need to strive was reinforced while I have been away from home. I need external enrichment in my life. I crave that stimulation. And it is challenging to obtain in a near isolation, hanging out at the OTC. Some people would think that the monk-like existence at a facility like that would be exactly the way to prepare… after all it is called the Olympic Training Center. But in reality, all of this is mental. All the talent in the world wouldn’t get someone to the OTC alone. It is a drive that gets one there and the talent is concretely second.

What maintains my drive is cooking my own food, sleeping in, goofing off with my roommates and seeing the mountains I love. I miss that messy kitchen and being woken up by partygoers at 3am. I miss waking up to the front door slamming below my bedroom and the cold, mornings when karina and I just lay in bed so not to face the inclimate bedroom. I miss long mornings with a full French press (to be emptied) and the Wall Street Journal. I miss waiting for it to warm up, and the wondering whether or not I will be snowed on. But it’s all taken for granted when I nervously check the weather and make contingency plans days in advance of a pending storm. I keep looking for the next thing when I am home, forgetting about all of it until I am on the road.

South America is appearing outside my window now, and that sunset is falling into dusk. This month on the road is coming to a close, but there is still a little golden glow out my window before the day too is done. I hope I can have a little Golden glow to finish this trip too.

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