The first Journeyfoot of 2013 was more of a journeywheel. No, I wasn’t biking, but good guess. Technically, I was on foot, but my fellow Journeyfooter was not. Trevor broke both of his legs in a recent snowboarding accident in Whistler, but he’s not the type to sit around and sulk.
Trev, a kind-hearted goofball who I have known since high school, was excited to have gotten a wheel chair at the goodwill only a couple of weeks after his accident. When I had asked if he wanted to spend the first day of 2013 “rolling” along the Burke Gilman trail, he had responded with a “hell yah! I got a wheel chair now n can roll myself. It’d be a good workout for me n good to get outside. Sahweet.” I was happy to see he hadn’t lost any enthusiasm, even over a couple of broken legs!
So there we were, on the first day of the year, journeywheeling. From the Ballard Locks, we wheeled along the Burke Gilman trail towards Golden Gardens, a sandy beach on the edge of Puget Sound. We alternated between him using his arms to move the wheels of his chair and me pushing behind him. Sun is a great addition to any New Year’s Day, and the snowcapped peaks of the Olympic Mountain range stood proudly in the clear sky. The beach at Golden Gardens was filled with people wearing mittens and hats, sipping steamy beverages from thermoses. Several groups of bathing suit clad people were taking part in a polar bear plunge. Christmas trees that, only days before, had been decorated with hand made ornaments, twinkling lights and glass bulbs were now naked and barren, laying sideways in the sand like skeletons. Other trees were already in fire pits, consumed by flames which billowed dense clouds of smoke into the sky, wrapping the sun’s light in an eerie veil that reminded me of the eclipse in Dolores Claiborne. We had stumbled upon a Golden Gardens New Year’s Day tradition, and after some post-journeyfoot research, I’ve learned this was the fourth annual Polar Bear Plunge at Golden Gardens and that people dispose of their Christmas trees each year by burning them in the pits.
We sat on a bench for a while in idle content watching the world around us before finally starting on our way back. I almost tipped poor Trev over a couple of times while trying to get him up and down some curbs, but he didn’t seem to mind too much. Just another a bump in the road, and Trevor is accustomed to handling bumps. Now, instead of passing his days in Tahoe where he has spent the last three or so years, he is confined to his parents’ living room with a new found goal for 2013: “to walk again.” He says this half-joking, for he will surely be able to walk again, but it is easy to empathize after such a massive injury, especially considering this is a guy that trots the globe always on the hunt for the next adventure.
Trev was supposed to be finishing school by the Fall of this year, with subsequent plans to head down to South America in search of a teaching gig just in time for the World Cup in 2014. His accident has delayed his life plans by at least a year and what goals he had in mind for 2013 have been pushed to the back burner. All of his belongings wait for him in Tahoe. Someone else is now living in his room. He is not able to work. His whole life has been disrupted. Even as he talked about all of this, it seemed more as though he were dealing some small problem that had popped up. Like a flat tire. Or a pimple. Not two broken legs or the outrageous medical bills that are sure to accumulate.
But this is Trevor. An opportunist. As I walked behind him pushing his wheel chair, he told me “things happen” and that he’ll push through this just like anything else that comes up in life. I did not hear one hint of negativity or sadness underneath even one word. In fact, it almost sounded as though he is excited to triumph over this, as though it is just one more adventure life has awarded him. My fellow journeyfooter set the perfect tone for the year ahead.