Sunday, September 9, 2012

Russian Mountains

Being a language aficionado, I love the nuances, strange phrases and out-of-date words in language.  Being a foreign language major (for a short time) I also love how languages express themselves, both literally and figuratively.

Take the Spanish phrase 'monatña rusa.' Literally, it means 'Russian Mountain.' Figuratively, it means 'roller coaster.' How the idea of a Russian mountain came to signify a roller coaster to a Spanish speaking mind is beyond me. But, I was dying to make that connection. Figuratively, of course.

So, I did a little research. Historians believe the first roller coasters were based on hills specially made of ice near Saint Petersburg, Russia. These hills had a 50 degree drop and a height of 70-84 feet and were supported with wooden beams and used more as a slide than a coaster. Most Latin based languages have retained the term 'Russian mountain' for 'roller coaster'. Ironically, the Russian term for 'roller coaster' is 'American mountains.' )

My first partner was an avid coaster enthusiast. He would often call me, after a difficult day at work wanting to "ride the range." (It's not what you think.) He was also a huge Disney fan, so we'd drive down to Disneyland and ride the coasters; Space Mountain, Matterhorn, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and for variety's sake, Splash Mountain. Afterwards, we'd drive home. We would periodically ride the range up until about one week before his death.

When my husband left, I felt my life was headed out on a new track; a single, gay man at midlife; a somewhat daunting, depressing prospect in a community where youth and perfection are often worshiped; the perfect face, the perfect body, the perfect financial standing. Plus, I faced deep emotional obstacles setting off on this new track; hurt, anger, pain, isolation, worry.

I faced uncontrollable financial challenges; a shrinking paycheck, a mortgage, skyrocketing fuel costs with a long commute.

I faced social obstacles; to date or not to date, to simply hookup or not, to isolate myself or socialize when and where I could afford to.

Yet, right now, I feel I am sitting in the last car of a roller coaster train as the front is cresting the first climb. I can feel the excitement and anticipation building as the tension mounts for the pending release.

I have finally been approved for and locked in a refinance loan at a fantastic rate, with a huge credit towards the settlement costs, so I can see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Yet, loans can still fall apart at any step in the process, so until I see and sign the final documents, I am just going along for the ride. No expectations.

Recently, I received a small but sizeable windfall at a most needed time. While there are several needs to be taken care of; the washer doesn't agitate, the oven doesn't ignite, the carpets need cleaning, I need a vacation, I am holding on to every penny until the loan closes and I get a feel for the new and improved budget.

My first novel is also on course for a possible early release, bringing a little more into the coffers, and setting me off on a new direction in life.

I feel a new sense of optimism. I feel things are about to pick up and I'm holding on for the newest ride of my life. Literally.

And a bit figuratively.


  1. Yes, life is truly a roller coaster ride; some rides less scary than others. I'd much rather you ride the merry-go-round on a prancing white stallion, saying "Tally-O!" Personally, it's scary what you went through, but you have adjusted with the strength within you. I'm not sure I could be as strong as you.

    1. Nancy,
      First, I want to thank you for your comment. And second, please don't sell yourself short. You never know. I'd like you to remember what Christopher Robin said to Winnie-the-Pooh: "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think." -A. A. Milne

      It helped me. It will help you.