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It’s A Long Way To The Top
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I’m digging my hands in the dirt.

On Saturday, October 16, I will climb the top of Spencer Butte Summit. I am so close, within two miles of the summit almost every day when I reach the top of the Martin Street Ridgeline Trail. I just need to hike that extra two miles. I see Spencer Butte every day when I walk outside and look to the right. I see it through the trees of my backyard and even when I walk the neighborhood trail into the woods. I know the last mile will be the steepest and toughest, but I’m prepared for it. I’ve walked up that Ridgeline Trail so many times, and it’s no picnic. It took me a while to get to the top without feeling out of breath. But I take my time. I stop when I need to. And I stop to take photos and look at things. That’s just what I do, so I say I saunter up the hill. Or I stop to pick blackberries this time of year, but the blackberry season most likely won’t last much longer. I discovered the woods trail last November after I decided to finally explore trails that weren’t part of the Amazon neighborhood trails I’ve always hiked on. I even would sing, “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock n’ roll” while hiking up the winding trail with the hills and even made up some of my own words to the AC/DC song. “It’s not easy climbing that hill, but it still gives me a thrill…” Yeah, I’m crazy that way.

So this organization I’m a part of is having walk-a-thon. It’s for Story Summit to raise money for scholarships specifically for people fighting cancer so that they can attend writing conferences, etc., and follow their dreams. Of course, being a writer, that’s such a great cause to me. I know how hard it is to afford cool stuff like that. Climbing to the top of Spencer Butte summit is my goal. And I know I’ll do it.

But suddenly, memories of my past come spiling in and I cannot shake them or forget them even if I want to.

I might have to grab onto rocks as I climb that final stretch to the summit of Spencer Butte. I hear it’s pretty steep. But whatever I have to do, I will go for it.

I will feel the woods envelop and surround me, and smell the trees. The smell doesn’t go away when I return home. Let nature and strength guide the way.

When I reach the top of that summit, I will have arrived. Just like I did when I was 14 and I stood out on a ledge at Land’s End in San Francisco where the ocean meets the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin headlands stretched out before me, and the waves crashing way down below. That’s when I decided that life was still worth living. That’s when I climbed back out of sadness and despair into strength as I run like lightning home to 24th Avenue near California Street to tell my Mom what I couldn’t tell her before, not sure if she’d hear me at all.

When I turned that light on in the bedroom, my mother sat straight up in bed and blinked as if a spell that fogged up her brain was suddenly lifted. She was alert, 100 percent. I blurted the words out right away, afraid that if I didn’t, it would not happen at all.

She believed me. Right away. People can say what they want about my mom, but she was a badass warrior, and she still is with me. She took the pain, the shame, the guilt and placed them on her shoulders. For the rest of her life.

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