We all have passions, and in life, we often share those passions with the ones we love. Or at least try to. Often with limited success. A great marriage, I believe, is based on the ability to feign just enough interest to keep your spouse feeling loved, without making them believe that you’d actually engage in the activity they suggested on more than a token level. That way they won’t be surprised when you don’t like their favorite movies (seriously, Raging Bull vs. Pride and Prejudice. Oh, Mr. Darcy, can you imagine?) And so it is with the adventures chronicled in this blog.
Sometime around 2010, my soon to be wife, Super Jen, and I moved to Reno, NV. I had trained martial arts a little here and there, and wanted Jen to learn some self-defense, since Reno in the 2010 days was sketchy a.f., more like crappy parts of Portland than the hipster paradise it’s becoming today. I found a school that was less Kobra Kai than most, and seemed really woman friendly, and signed us up. Since we were newly wed, she hadn’t learned the proper balance of feigning interest vs. not ever doing that stupid stuff again, and she tried gamely to fake her way all the way to green belt, or mid-beginner.
I knew it was over when she broke in to tears and refused to try and punch me in the face. I felt that meant she loved me deeply, and also had zero faith in my defensive skills. I was touched, and emasculated. I vowed then to train harder and improve my skills, so that my dear, sweet wife could try and punch me without fear or regret. I figured it was coming anyway, so I might as well prepare myself.
After about four years, give or take, I earned a black belt in our schools’ program, which included a pretty tough six month black belt test. Say what you will about traditional martial arts, I say it too, but this school really took their training seriously, without being an MMA factory. Which brings us to the Jiu Jitsu part. This school teaches a balance of TMA with forms, flashy kicking, and other such old school stuff, with self-defense, muay thai combos and padwork, sparring, and BJJ. Along the way, I fell in love with the gentle art of choking, smashing and joint bending, and after I got my black belt, I pretty much quit with the jumping and spinning and the yelling in Korean.
I never really tried to get Super into Jiu Jitsu, it was much more intense, focused on killing the other guy. In TKD and other arts, you can go, train, jump around in your pajamas, kick pads, whatever, and never touch another human, let alone hear him exhale loudly in pain or make that weird gurgling noise when it’s close but not quite right. BJJ, is by its very essence, practiced on someone who is desperately, and sometimes skillfully, trying not to let you do the very thing you’re trying to learn to do. Slap hands, fist bump, simulate murder. Although I don’t get why, I knew she’d never go for it.
Of course, this blog won’t be just about my Jiu Jitsu travels and journey, it is also about Jens’ passion, which I show a mild interest in and avoid getting sucked into at the high level she’s involved. Her passion is the reason I’m traveling around the West Coast from California to Canada, rolling, stinking, choking, loving. Jen is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Yeah, like the girl from Wild, but with a much better backpack and fewer emotional issues. Not to say none, but man, that girl was a mess.
Jen somehow got the bug from a disastrous but eventually triumphant trip up Half Dome, or Half-a-dome as she insists on calling it.
We got a permit to go with our friend Joe!, who had hiked the PCT back before it was cool. I put a light day pack on Jen, a huge backpack on me, and she cried and hated every minute of the three day trip, except the Half Dome part, which in all fairness, scared the shit out of me. She loved it. Hated backpacking loved hiking. Then Joe told her to get a real backpack, so we did, and started doing over night trips around Tahoe, where we live.
I don’t think she would’ve ever taken to it but for one thing. Well, maybe a couple or a few, but one 1 thing sealed the deal. Jen is an Idaho girl, so tougher and more used to outdoors stuff than most. River rat, mountain biker, general Idaho tough girl. Jen is also a recovering Mormon, and those people just seem bred to walk. I think they marry each other with an eye towards offspring that can walk long distances in white shirts and black ties, carrying the collected words of Joseph Smith in their knapsacks. She can walk. Most importantly, Marley likes backpacking.
Marley is our blue eyed, twenty pound shih tzu, looks like a stuffed animal made love to a muppet, and he can go like a Jack London wolf-dog in the woods. Jen LOVES Marley. So, once Marley was on-board with the hiking and tenting and camping, I didn’t have much choice.
I don’t know how the PCT dream really got planted. I remember her asking me if I wanted to go. I told her that I couldn’t wait to hear all about it. The more she talked about it, the clearer it became that 1: I didn’t want to go and 2: I didn’t really want her to go by herself. You see, I love my wife, and I miss her. I’m that one in the relationship for sure. Make of that what you will. It didn’t come from the Cheryl Strayed, and it didn’t come from Reese Witherspoon, I think it came from Joe, but by the summer of 2016, it was cemented in.
And that, is how we got here, me sitting in a trailer in San Diego, two dogs, a half dozen gi’s, and a bunch of dried food, following Super Jen from Mexico to Canada. This blog is called STOP, WALK, And ROLL, and we’ll be doing a lot of all three.