Grant found me through a publication in NZ's Wilderness Magazine, which featured my idea of hiking the Te Araroa as an art project, (and for those of you who are still waiting, I am still working on the book. It turns out they take a great deal to write, but yes, it is in progress). Through the course of my trek he was what you might refer to as a bit of trail magic, appearing here and there with bits of insight on the culture and tramping. He really became a permanent facet of my life when he opened his house up to me for 5 days and let me recouporate. A small pause from the ridiculous chaos, and the haven where I finally resolved that my injuries were severe enough, to set my massive ego aside and admit that I wasn't capable of finishing the trail.
For 5 days, Grant would go to work in the science department of Massey University and I would have plenty of time to catch up on my blog and focus on making alternative plans now that I wouldn't be hiking. Also I did not have to wear shoes, or stand, or walk. It was an incredible reprieve from tramping. Meanwhile the battle inside raged, and I was feeling lost.
Grant would come home from work, and I would cook us dinner. I was grateful to have a kitchen to cook in. Grateful for fresh food. Grateful for any and all kitchen appliances. Don't even get me started on my appreciation for refrigerators. It was the only way I could really say thank you for being so kind, on such a whim, to a complete and total stranger. From the time he got home it was a conversational explosion. I leant the view of the world through the eyes of an optimistic artist, and he leant the intelligence of a hilariously dry humored scientist. We were a living Monty Python skit.
His apartment had shrunk over his 20 year residence, as each wall became lined with bookshelves. He apologized that his television didn't work. It had broken several years ago, and he just never got around to fixing it. There it sat, abandoned, and collecting dust the way an old woman may collect spoons, or small bells. Collecting at first with a purpose, and eventually just out of habit. Bookshelves on every wall in the living room, in the hallways, in the bedrooms, in the computer room. Such a beauty, to literally surround yourself with words and ideas. At the same time he was diminishing the physical space of his apartment, he was expanding the intellectual space through surrounding himself with ideas and possibilities. If there was a flat surface, it either housed a stack of books, or a stack of maps. Stacks on chairs. Stacks on the floor. Stacks on the living room table you could no longer find, except to understand that something had to be holding those piles of knowledge several feet off the floor. They were not simply hovering there themselves. Maps and tramping guides occupied the remaining few inches of space just above the line-up of paralleled books and ceiling of the next shelf rung above it. A literal cocoon of thoughts. I wrapped myself tightly within that cocoon, and when my time came to finally emerge from the chrysalis I found myself anew.
I asked Grant a very personal question. For someone who loves reading as much as he, did he himself write? There was a slight pause. He wasn't pausing because he didn't know the answer, but because he was deciding whether or not he wanted to fall down the rabbit hole of telling me about it. Surely more questions would follow. He eventually admitted that he use to write, but that he had been suffering a bad case of writers block, for the last FIVE YEARS! That's not writer's block, that's a writers barricade.
I was so curious. What had he been writing about? What was his writing style? I wanted so badly to know what this man, with such an appreciation and love for words and thoughts, would himself, have an urge to express.
I am not the most graceful person at times. I am often pushy and much too blunt for most people's palates. So it was with great restraint that I attempted to keep myself from seeming intrusive, when I requested, that if ever he felt like he wanted to share some of his writings with me, no matter their stage of completion, that I would be honored to read some of them. Much to my surprise, not long after we parted ways, and I relinquished him back to his apartment, having felt like I took over his life for a week, he emailed me one of his writings, and has been actively writing ever since.
I would love to share his thoughts and ideas because the amount of heart he pours onto page is absolutely stunning, but that isn't for me to share. I can only hope, at the very least, that he continues his writings, but I hope for more than that. At the very most I hope he publishes some of them because the world needs more art. It needs more beauty, and it certainly needs more heart and he disguises all of those facets within his intellect and love for nature.
So, last night, it was of course Grant who I turned to when facing this stupid blank page. My frustration mounting as weeks have gone by and I have been trying to put together thoughts that I actually feel are worth sharing, and write this damn blog. His advice, was to just write, without thinking too much of the outcome. Just put the thoughts down, the rest will come in time.
My intention was to tell more tails of my summer spent in Alaska, but as it turns out, even though I have a lot of stories, I'm just not sure quite yet, what I have to say about them. It was a long hard summer and perhaps a few degrees of separation will bring me the clarity to sort out my thoughts. In the meantime, I'm just thankful to finally have gotten some words down on paper.
Now, prepare yourselves for some hilarious stories in the next blog posts, because my summer in Alaska was weird.