Altitude Fix

My name is Sally Bolger, and I am an addict. I am addicted to the physiological and psychic changes that happen at altitude. I do not know whether it is the oxygen deprivation or the lessening of atmospheric pressure that gives this drug its power. All I know is that when it has been too long since my last trip, and the worries and frustrations of everyday living become too much for me to cope with unassisted, I suddenly find myself in my car, heading east toward the Sierra, like a drug-addict erratically driving to the wrong side of town. I head up into the mountains, until the world starts to sparkle and everything seems possible again. The struggle to breathe slows me down, gives me time to sit, to darn my soul and mend my armor. My writing starts to flow again, and I suddenly find myself on a creative journey, the destination of which is unclear and fundamentally unimportant but infinitely surprising. Only then am I ready to drop back down, fortified, to my sea-level life. But before I leave, I take a little of that undefined, fabulous thing and place it in a hidden pocket of my heart. My secret stash that I keep for emergencies until it is used up and I must make my next frantic run to altitude for another fix.

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