I couldn’t hike down to the spot where Dave died. It was steep and my legs were exhausted. The whole climb up I marvelled at how my chain smoker could climb that hill everyday. I kept pausing to gasp for air, and no matter how much I wanted to give up, I continued. It was blistering hot. I think the weather said it hit 39C that day in Chula Vista. And this is desert, so it’s a dry hot heat. Dust kept picking up and by the time it was all done, I was filthy. I have to think the reason I never saw any tarantulas or snakes was because Dave was watching out for clumsy me. The border patrol stopped us on the way up, probably to see if we were Mexicans, and told us if we get into trouble that we were on six-and-a-half ridge. I think I’ll always remember that name. Towards the top, seeing the orange flag was a momentary relief from the gruelling climb, and then I remembered this was one of the last places Dave stood alive on this earth. The launch area is worn down to dirt. Many of his friends told me of their own experiences up there – it’s a popular place to launch – as evidenced by the lack of desert grass, but many of them haven’t been up there much in the past few months. The view was breath-taking. I could see all the way to the ocean, all the surrounding hills – the shades of brown, yellow and pockets of green across the endless expanse of valleys and hills. This is what Dave loved. I love him more for that now. I walked down the launch area to the edge of the ridge which took his life. It was steep, rocky and deep like a cavern. I’d seen it on his videos. It made sense how it could kill him. I could see how he would have broken his body to the point of making it unliveable if he impacted down there. In that moment as I stood there, I understood. I walked back up to the flag and sat down. Dennis, the dude who walked up with me, handed me a beer. I poured some on the ground for Dave and cried while I finished the rest. For whatever reason, my love, you are gone and I’m left here without you. I hope you find peace. But I hope I find peace too.
Erez and I decided not to stay in Colorado. We got back in the car and drove through torrential rain – correction, he drove – through the steep Rockies of Colorado. The lightning was intense and at times both he and I exclaimed loudly at the simultaneous multiple forks coming out of the night sky. I was a little scared, but we got to just outside Grand Junction and called it a night.
The next day we stopped at Skydive Moab and saw some friends. People from Burnaby and PST were there and people from SNE from way back in the day. We stayed only a short time and pushed on towards Vegas. Erez inquired if I wanted to drive down the strip, but I declined. I will do Vegas one of these days, so it could wait. We got to Menifee, CA later that night and went for all-you-can-eat sushi with his friends – and then someone from X-Keys showed up too and it made Erez laugh. I kept running into people I knew everywhere we went. The next day we emptied the car and went to Perris. But, to be fair, I was distracted. San Diego is only over an hour away. I had to get there somehow. I did the next day.
The drive was bitter sweet, but I managed to only speed a little. That night, however, I got absolutely drunk and Dave’s friends had to put me to bed. It kind of makes me laugh now. He’d be so proud.
Something kind of strange happened on that Saturday though. On the way down the hill I slipped and fell hard on my butt and hands. A stick about 3/8-inch-wide went deep into my palm, about a good half inch deep. It bled pretty good when I pulled it out, and we still had more than half-way down to go. Dennis took off his shirt and gave it to me to put over my hand after we washed it out as best we could with some of our drinking water. Someone said to me – now both of you have left your blood on that hill. I thought it was poor form at the time for them to make such a comment, but to be fair, it was kind of a strange occurrence. On Sunday I felt calmer. I had accomplished a task I couldn’t stop thinking about. I had hiked the hill. I had said good-bye. Now I have but only to keep my promise to Dave. He told me I had to move on, to not take too long, to be happy he was happy. I’m trying Dave, but it’s so hard when I miss you this much.