Thursday, April 2, 2009

Screaming at the top of my Ridge

It was merely a suggestion. But on close examination of the idea, I realized that my dear friend Amy Moellering would not lead me astray. She would not intentionally walk me into an embarrassing situation - at least not unless the benefits would far outweigh the risk of looking completely insane.

After three days that have felt like an April-Fool’s Day joke turned sour, this morning I took Amy’s suggestion for letting loose.

At 8:30 a.m., with the sunlight reflecting off of a light haze and distant ribbons of fog lining the East Bay hills, my little dog and I briskly scaled the steepest path of the Pleasanton Ridge (the Oak Trail) - just a few miles from our house. We reached the summit in 20 minutes and I scanned the surrounding hills for signs of human life. When I was sure the coast was clear, I summoned some reckless abandon, sucked in a massive gasp of oxygen-rich fresh air -- and let it all back out again with a long, sharp shrill.

Fortunately, no one called out “Are you OK?” and no emergency vehicles arrived. Fueled by this absurdity, I decided that the first scream felt so good I needed another. This time I was smiling when I began, so the scream came out more like a high-pitched guffaw.

The dog looked a bit concerned, but the cattle on the hills didn’t seem to mind. But when the second scream trickled into a fit of laughter, my puppy began prancing about at my feet. Within minutes, we turned back and descended the long trail, the dog thrilled with a downhill hike and I with a new swing in my step and a grin on my face.

If you don't believe this story, just ask Amy. I called her just before the scream. When her voice mail answered, I said, "OK, Amy. It was your idea. You're doing this with me. Here we go. We're going to scream. Ready... Set... " and I included her as (hopefully) the only human witness to the screams.

"I screamed too!" Amy admitted later, "along with you on the voice recording--in my kitchen, in front of my dog. Did the neighbors react? Of course not. I guess they figured that it's just one new symptom of odd behavior from a family whose smoke alarm goes off at every meal and whose son regularly shucks lacrosse balls into their yards. It felt good! Let's do it again!"

Who cares if what we did might make some people think we're a bit off-balance. Even crazier would be not letting it out.

The best part? I’ve been smiling and laughing ever since.

Time to take on the world again.

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