Going ‘off’ Mountain…

That’s what we call it, you know, when we leave town to go to civilization. Women shave their legs and wax their eyebrows and contemplate the dressier clothes in the backs of their closets to go off the mountain. Implying of course that there’s no one up here you’d ever get dressed up for and that you wouldn’t bother dressing for yourself, but complete flatlander off the mountain people, why of course you would.


We try to do everything we can up here. We buy local. We try not to have to leave the mountain except to go on vacation but the fact of the matter is you can’t even buy underwear in this town. Cool artisan crafts yes, underwear and socks, no. So off the mountain it is. 


Only I’m going way off the mountain and all the way to San Francisco. I lived in SF for years when I was younger and cooler. When I had a gazillion black dresses for every occasion and didn’t own a car. Back when I lived in San Francisco, I could go months without ever leaving the city. I had to go over the Golden Gate bridge for work once and realized I hadn’t been north of the city in three years. If I left the city at all it was to go to the airport to leave the country or fly to LA. To a San Franciscan there aren’t that many states. There’s the Pacific Northwest, Chicago and the Eastern Seaboard. The rest is just something to fly over.


It’s still winter on the mountain though the date says we’re beyond the equinox. At this point in the year, mountain people get tense. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen the sun on more than one day in five. The wood pile is looking low and we have no energy or cash to scrounge around for more. We eye our favorite sweaters with loathing. We look at sundresses and try them on , put tights on under them , thick sweaters over them and try to deal.


It’s prime time up here for the announcement of divorces. This is the time of year when people just say, fuck it and leave. They can’t remember why they moved here if they aren’t from here. If they’re from here they can’t remember why they stayed. Who in their right minds lives some place with nine months or perpetual winter where you can’t even buy underwear?!


We do.


We live for those three months were it’s the most beautiful place on earth, the proverbial god’s country. Sound of music, hills are alive, country. For those months when all this isolation seems like a small price to pay for a serene and tranquil summer. But for now, it’s still raining. Higher elevations are snowing and I’m going to dodge falling boulders if I can to escape for 24 hours, go to Trader Joe’s, and yes, buy undergarments and drink coffee in North Beach.

About Margaret Elysia Garcia

Margaret Elysia Garcia is the author of short story ebook collection Sad Girls and Other Stories, and the audiobook Mary of the Chance Encounters, and the co-founder and lead playwright of Las Pachucas, theatrical troupe. She teaches creative writing and theatre in a California state prison.
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