Lake Placid is a tiny town in upstate New York, closer to Montreal than New York City. I followed a boy there after I graduated from college.
I became a waitress at the Lake Placid Manor where I met a woman my age who was already a former pot grower trying to avoid the law, a tough but sweet Russian couple, and Reggie the line cook! He was kind but getting older and hit the bottle too much. I had to pick his hair out of the plates I was serving more than once. It was a motley crew and an eye-opening experience for a sheltered Jewish girl from the west coast.
I hated waitressing. Although I would later work in the culinary field, this was my first paid job in food service. I worked the day shift which, of course, was much shittier tips than the fine dining evening one. I didn't have the knack for getting good tips. Though, I'd make up for those tips later in New York City when I worked private gigs for Wall Street bankers families.
We were in Lake Placid because he was training for the Olympics and at that time, it was the only place that had an Olympic Training Center for winter sports. His sport was called luge - the one where you hurtle down an ice track around 100mph. He eventually became well known as a professional mountain climber but he spent several years devoted to luge.
I think this photo was my first time going down the track. I started much further down that the pros, of course. It was fun-scary, the kind you feel sledding down a steep hill too fast.
It was my first time living in a really white, small rural town. I spent a lot of time in Eastern Washington in college since my friends were from Wenatchee, WA. But living somewhere and hanging out for a weekend are two completely different experiences.
At this point, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. For most of college, I planned to go to law school and majored in political science accordingly. The law firm where I'd worked since I was a senior in high school (yes, I was quite the overachiever) had a bunch of lawyers who were very protective of me. By the time I was finishing up at University of Washington, they'd each pulled me into their office and convinced me not to go to law school.
This is how I ended up on the other side of the country wearing a peach polo and serving breakfast to people who were not very nice to "the staff."
I'm not the first person to say it but I definitely agree that every single human should be a server for at least a few months of their lives. HUMBLING.
Without my grand plans to become a lawyer and fight for the less privileged, I didn't know what to do with myself. That wasn't easy for me. I'm such a planner and organizer. So, I did what a lot of people do: they invest in their partner's dream instead of their own.
This was no easy feat. I literally couldn't keep up with a crew of Olympic athletes. One humiliating day, we went to the huge pool where the ski jumpers practice. It looked just like the snowy ski jump but was slick with water. Each of these incredibly gifted athletes ran as fast as they could, tossed themselves into the air for a flip and then landed gracefully in the water.
I was nervous, obviously. The tiny non-athlete in the group. I can usually hold my own in sports. But I was way, way out of my league with these peeps! My hesitation while sliding/running down cost me height on my jump. I ended up belly flopping in the pool. I can't remember how far up I was, there are photos somewhere. Maybe 20 feet up? Maybe more? I'm sure you'll take my word for it when I tell you that belly flopping from that height is no picnic.
My ego was more bruised than my body.
It worried him. How fragile I was.
After all these years, I still don't like to think of myself of fragile.
Eventually, I got too sick and needed to focus on my health. It took awhile to face it. We both knew our lifestyles were not compatible.
I wouldn't give up my dreams.
He wouldn't give up his.
He was a lovely writer. He wrote a card near the end of our relationship. I can't remember the exact wording but it was something like, "I may climb the tallest mountains, but you're the brave one for going inward and seeking your truth." I always appreciated that he valued the path I wanted to take. He died in 2014 climbing a mountain. Even after all these years, neither of us gave up up on our dreams.
It wasn't easy for me to live in Lake Placid. I'm glad I did though. I think everyone should live in a big city AND a small town for awhile. It's good to have different experiences.
If more people exposed themselves to other places in our country, I think we'd have less of a mess on our hands right now.
I look so young and innocent in this photo. I clearly have that optimism I mentioned in yesterday's post. That belief that it was all going to work out one day.
And maybe it will be.
Or, maybe it won't.
Maybe that's the truly zen place to get. To be at peace no matter how it all works out.
I must try and let go of the reins I'm still holding onto from my old life. Trying so hard to control the uncontrollable. Instead of accepting whatever destiny awaits me.
I don't know if I'll ever get there. But writing my life story here is certainly helping me work through something.
Maybe there is a reason that I remember those words from that particular card.
The physical activities I miss from my old life aren't where I'll find my courage, my truth.
Perhaps the only way out of this for me is to keep going inward.
To find whatever it is that I've been searching for all these years.
Until then, I keep writing....
RIP Chad Kellogg 1971-2014
PHOTO #6. This post is part of a series celebrating my life before I lost four organs to three cancers in 2014. It is an “online memorial” honoring the person I was, in the hopes that I can make peace with the disabled person I’ve become. Every day for 30 days until my birthday, I will challenge myself to write a post inspired by the photo I’m sharing. I will not plan the topic or write ahead of time. I will merely look at the photo and write whatever it inspires. Thanks for reading! #julesfor30 #happyrebirth