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July 21, 2013
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As a child in Portland, I orientated myself by the placement of the mountains. No matter how many times I spun in circles in the fountain or how many parks I followed my mom to (counting the men on horses, the stag with the too-long-neck, Mr. Lincoln with his pointy-hard knee), if I could see those mountains I could tell you what direction we were facing. Mount Hood, tall, proud, regal and snowy (patchy-brown only in the height of summer). Mount St. Helens in its self-torn beauty (line your fingers up against the sides, children, then you can see how tall the mountain was), equipped with the center to learn and hear the rumbling explosion and that man’s last words. Just so you can pretend you aren’t knee-buckled and bile-flooded as you listen to him die.

I used to listen to the rumble in my stomach and pretend it was St. Helens coming for me. But it didn’t. Couldn’t move. St. Helens was my north, ash-smelling, flowered, sliced across by the Morrison Bridge if you looked down from the Hill. Mt. Hood was my East, a divide, a barrier. Crisp, cold snowmelt that filtered into the gorges I swam in, the ice-spray that glues me to the bottom of the pool when I jump into the waterfall. The bringer of the green that would bore into my eyes before even the sky as I resurfaced, ears ringing and feet still smarting from the rock my toes gripped just before I jumped.

And to my West, the ocean. The ocean that had stolen my air and my parents breath, dragged my face through the sand and then, in a bout of fickle mercy, returned me to my sobbing mother and washed away my screams. And to my south, well, the redwoods. But what did I want with them? A good vacation spot, sure, but they weren’t here, weren’t home.

~~~

I am leaving.

Mount Hood will be my West now, so far I’ll not see its lofty stand, its green, feel its teeth-numb snowmelt. A new ocean to my east. A place I know not of to my south. To my north? What there?

(Line you fingers up against the sides, children, then you can see how tall the mountain was.)

By now I don’t need the mountain to know the game, the shape.

(The mountain is rebuilding itself, children, it will grow back, but the growth will make it new.)

To the North? Same as always.

I am growing too.
This is about my going-away as I head off to college next month, but it's also supposed to convey my own nostalgia and the sense of being lost that I already have.

A couple things:

1. Mount St. Helens "blew its top" on May 18th, 1980. David A. Johnston, who was studying the increasing activity on the mountain, was killed by the pyroclastic flows. His last words "Vancover! Vancover! This is it!" were recorded on tape and are played at the Johnston Ridge Observatory (located near Johnston Ridge, where he died) which tells the story of the mountain. In the background, you can hear the pyroclastic flows coming, and it's something that terrifies me to this day.

2. The technique of lining up your fingers to see how the mountain used to look actually works. By placing each index finger along the sides of the mountain, the place where your fingers touch is a good approximation of where the top of the mountain was.

3. Mount St. Helens lost about a third of itself in the explosion and subsequent landslides.

4. Fifty-seven people died that day.

5. When I was young, I nearly drowned in the Pacific Ocean. Somehow, by some miracle, despite having my head bashed into rocks and having inhaled water, the ocean gave me back.
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:iconkagenokarasu:
Ah, the mountains, I miss them. I enjoyed knowing where I was based on where they were. And Rainier always looked so strange and new from other angles.
And I've never heard of the finger trick to looking at the mountain, that's really cool.
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:iconsynesthi:
:) Rainier is a cool mountain. I can't see it from here, though. 
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:iconkagenokarasu:
Neither can I.,it's some 1500 miles away. But I used to be able to see it right out the front door, every morning. (well, every morning it wasn't gray, XD )
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:iconsynesthi:
I can see Mt. Hood from my doorstep, provided it isn't raining. Which, being the Pacific Northwest, it almost always is.
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:iconkagenokarasu:
Hehehee, it is. I miss that kind of rain
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:iconsynesthi:
I'm going to college in Massachusetts later this month, and I'm hoping for some good, solid rains. I don't know what to do without it. :)
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:iconkagenokarasu:
It's wetter there than the midwest. I lived in Vermont for more than a year, and well.. it's cold in the winter, humid in the summer.
I kind of miss it there, actually.
Watch for the drivers, they is crazee!
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:iconsynesthi:
I'll be studying in rural midwestern Massachusetts, so I'm hoping the scary drivers will be far away, and I'll just be dodging tractors instead. :D 

I have heard many things about the extreme weather variability, though. :P
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:icondrippingwords:
DrippingWords Jul 22, 2013  Student Writer
:heart:
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:iconhayleybyronbell:
Love it as always <3 :love:
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