Year in Yosemite: Okay, I Admit It
Somewhere on this planet I know there's a 12-step program designed especially for me. "Hello. My name is Jamie. And I'm addicted to telling people I live in a national park." I can see it all. The dingy room, the folding chairs, the worn linoleum, the bad lighting. Next to me is a woman who calls the Loire Valley home. Across the room is a guy renting a flat in Istanbul. The leader runs a safari park in Kenya. Together we'll join hands and admit we've hit rock bottom. We can’t help ourselves. Wherever we go, we feel compelled to tell people where we live.
And who can blame us? How many times do you get to bask in the glow, not of what you've done, but where you live? I didn’t put Half Dome there or cause Yosemite Falls to thunder down the mountain. Yet I feel special because I inhabit the same piece of real estate they do. It’s the lazy man’s way to ego fulfillment.
Better yet, if done right, it’s subtle, even elegant. No boorish name-dropping (at least not human names). I get all the ooh's and aah's I can handle just from saying "We live in Yosemite. The National Park.
But there's a flip side to loving where you live. Your city friends don't want to hear it. As I wax poetic about the deer wandering by my window, I can sense my friends from home gearing up to stage an intervention.
So I think I've come up with a solution. I'm not going to tell a soul (or at least anyone I'm close to) that I wake up every day and say, "Pinch me, I can't believe I live here." I dwell instead on the bad stuff. Like the curvy mountain roads that become impassable in winter. The isolation. The teeny tiny population of our village. The scarcity of culture. The tension in my marriage because one of us loves the place and the other doesn't. The winter storms. The shoveling. The impossibly long drives just to shop. Moving in and out of our home every few weeks because that's the only way we could find housing. Every bit of it may be true but I don't let people know it's a price I'm willing to pay. Instead, I make it sound bad. Really bad. It's the only way my loved ones will believe I have a handle on my addiction.."
Then, when I can't stand it another moment, when I think I will go crazy, I go to the store and tell the clerk I am buying masses of food because I live in Yosemite National Park and it's a three-hour round trip just to get to Trader Joe's. Instantly I'm rewarded with the ooh's and aah's I crave. My city friends don't even have to know.
But should I slip up and tell them I'm happy, I'll rejoice when they drag me off to the 12-step program for inveterate braggarts. If I play my cards right, I might be able to befriend the woman in the Loire Valley. Surely, she’d like to trade houses for a month. After all, I live in Yosemite National Park.
-- Jamie Simons