We stood on a wide wooden suspension bridge that hung 70 meters above a rushing river. Tourists swarmed as the bridge gave into its architectural design, swaying from side to side, taking my stomach with it, which was a particularly unpleasant sensation since it suddenly felt attached to my knees. Her stylishly cut blunt blonde hair bobbed in front of me as we shoved our way past the groups of school kids and young families to get to the other side. She flashed me her trademark mischievous grin: the one I’ve seen in many countries and under many circumstances, the same grin I often felt reflected on my own lips during vivacious moments of travel.
As two allied souls in our determination to stay unattached and untamed we often found ourselves exchanging that same understanding and mischievous grin while hurling ourselves off of sea cliffs and diving into the seedy, dark depths of Spanish discotecas. Years ago we found each other in the same foreign city during a year we both worked hard to put ourselves in situations where we had to step onto a precipice of a tantalizing unknown, distancing ourselves from the familiar and comfortable with every passing day. We shared many moments of giving into that particular impulse, it’s a substantial part of our friendship’s foundation: the hunger to stay wild.
It seemed natural that we were both drawn towards the Pacific Northwest as the destination of a much anticipated reunion tour. Both of us were in transitory phrases of life and coming to the realization that as years have passed us by, our hunger for the wild was slowly becoming subdued, a sentiment that clung to the crisp, stainless steel buildings and on the old sepia toned photographs that ubiquitously hung on their walls. Raw to cooked, both cities have learned to sculpt their primordial and savage selves into the progressive entities they are today while nostalgically holding their rugged pioneer histories delicately in cupped hands like a prized possession. Both cities seem stable and monolithic, yet they also embody the sizzling chemical process of rapid domestication and globalization, the vibrant diversity of these places help churn the forces of change quietly under the paved streets like the magma that discretely lies just beneath the soles of our feet, pushing the next evolutionary phrase forward so that it gains momentum until it breaks the Earth’s crusty surface and makes its presence known.
We discussed our futures and our pasts in the palpable yet passive tension of the present moment as we roamed oppidan streets that were shrouded by the masses of dark forest hovering just outside of the urban centers as a constant reminder of an elapsed wilderness. Our transient selves were constantly reflected back at us in the stories upon stories of colored glass that construct downtown Vancouver. Down every block we made ephemeral eye contact with our distorted bodies in the windows as we strolled around burdened with the heavy questions of if we will be blessed or cursed by the approaching process of domestication, or if our wild streaks will die by slowly shrinking into the lanky shadows cast by the illumination of our birthday cake candles.
Under the crisp summertime sun and the magnified blue sky we explored Seattle and Vancouver savoring and inhaling the zing of an environment where passionate people craft their daily life experiences and environments meticulously. We marveled jealously as people sat, completely at ease, relaxing in simplistic cafes and rustic patios taking the time to sincerely enjoy their manicured world over a supreme cup of coffee or an artisanal beer. In the calm of those moments we looked to the cities and their inhabitants in hopes of finding a formula, method or equation they might have used to transform themselves into this seemingly tranquil and prosperous moment where the struggle between the wild and the tame, as we silently hoped to do the same.