Saturday, October 17, 2009

Refuel in New England

Chris was feeling blue in the days following surgery…drifting in and out of a haze probably caused by painkillers, lack of exercise, and much more TV than he was used to. A change of scene was the remedy, and in this case the scene was New England in early fall. Upon reflection, this turned out well for two very good reasons. First, a major change of environment provided much-needed relief from the incessant nagging from two opposing agendas: to remain immobile and heal from surgery per doctors orders, and the need to efficiently buy items for Tao’s “high-priority” upgrades and get down to Mexico as quickly as possible. Second, although unaware of this himself, the human care and companionship he received while visiting both family and friends during the early weeks of his recovery turned out to be the critical elements he needed to regain his capacity to enjoy life in the moment.

Chris’s first stop on the way East was in Denver, CO, to visit his good buddy from graduate school, Monte Lunacek (giving one of his better Zoolander "Blue Steel" impressions, photo right) . Monte is a different man from the one he new at Colorado State University, only a few years back (OK, maybe 8). He has forsaken his “dirt-bag climber” lifestyle (at least for the moment) and is currently working as a post-doc with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, home of Coors now turned hip Denver border town. Incredibly, Monte no longer lives out of his car. He just finished purchasing his first home, a spacious condominium only a few minutes from downtown Golden. In addition to good dialogue and some local hiking, Chris and Monte were able to catch up with another Colorado State University classmate and good friend, Melody Bourret, who is now living and working in Boulder, CO.

From Denver, Chris flew to Boston and caught a bus up to Bangor, ME, where he met his father, Dave, for a ten-day visit to beautiful family property in Penobscot Bay. He has fond memories of summers spent with his father and sister, Sarah, in a small, undeveloped wooden cabin overlooking the water along Eggemoggin Reach on Little Deer Isle. The water, beach and roughly 30 acres of dense forest were great for exploring, hiking, clamming, canoeing, windsurfing, sailing, and just about anything else a couple of kids could imagine. This year, highlights included a 3-day sailing cruise around the islands of Penobscot aboard his father’s boat Mouette, a 31 foot Dufour (furry first-mate, photo right); spending calm evenings watching sunsets on the north porch; putting together puzzles with his stepmother, Anette; taking long walks in the forest; and watching boats navigate down the reach each day.

Leaving Maine, Chris traveled south towards West Barnstable, MA. There, he visited his mother, Jane, and stepfather, Abe, at their house on Cape Cod. While there, he enjoyed neighborhood walks and lengthy discussions with his mother; going out to favorite eateries and watching Red Sox games on TV together; and wholeheartedly enjoying the rare opportunity to spend time with his globetrotting mother and stepfather. Crisp, clear weather foreshadowed the changing seasons, and provided a good reason to cozy up to fires in the Franklin stove. Last, but certainly not least, he also made it to two Red Sox games at Fenway Park in Boston, taking him back to memories of ballgames with his stepfather as a young kid. Amazingly, the Red Sox won both games, but not without some of the good drama you would expect.

Chris spent the final few days of his East Coast trip at a wedding on Long Island, NY, with friends from Occidental College. While at Oxy, he enjoyed surfing with the groom, Jason Graetz, and another close friend in attendance, Matt Gehrke, at various California and Baja Norte breaks. Jason was married to his beautiful bride, Rania, out in the fields behind a cleverly restored barn near Riverhead, Long Island. Following the reception, Chris traveled with Matt down to his newly purchased townhouse in Wilmington, DE. Although the visit was short, it was good to finally see Matt settling into a good groove at work and home.

At the end of a month in New England, Chris was revitalized and his injury was well on its way to full recovery. He was finally prepared to get back to the West Coast and tackle the work ahead; work that he hopes will eventually lead to a life together with his greatest loves: Shawn, Grizzly, and Tao. After a long day of air travel, he couldn’t have been any happier to see Shawn at the airport when he arrived in San Francisco on September 23rd.


  1. Sarah Jaquette RayNovember 8, 2009 at 3:41 PM

    Shawn, your writing is really becoming quite amazing, your story-telling and description very mature and poetic. But where are you in all of this? Not a word about what you're up to in LV? I know, it's always so easy to write about other people, much harder to write about yourself, but you rock too woman.