Matt and I had the opportunity to sneak away from Berkeley for a weekend and head up to a cozy Lake Tahoe cabin for the weekend last week. The trip was bittersweet for me: I couldn’t help but worry about the intense flooding in my hometown nearby. There was a point in time where every road in and out of Quincy was washed out, leaving everyone trapped. Regardless, I had been going nonstop since I started the semester, and was excited to take a break. Because of all the rain and snow, the drive to the lake took us ten hours. Thank goodness for side-of-the-highway diner hamburgers, or I wouldn’t have survived the trip. For my forms of folklore class this semester, I’m required to collect five pieces of folklore – stories you heard growing up, or superstitions you always abide by. To help the time go by faster, I asked my fellow riders to share their stories in the name of research.
Bradley, our driver, has lived all over the world – New York, Venezuela, London, Mexico, on a boat – and started us off with romantic legends he remembered from childhood summer camps. It was the love story of Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, two large mountains visible from Mexico City. The Aztec Romeo and Juliet, Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl tell the story of a brace warrior and beautiful princess. When the warrior was away in battle, his princess waited at home. A scrupulous enemy told her a tragic lie – Popocatepeti had died in battle. Devastated, Iztaccihualtl died of a broken heart. When Popocatepetl returned home, he held her in his arms and has stayed by her side ever since, eternally trapped in mountainous form. This story prompted Alex, a Rome native with Greek roots, to share his family’s traditions.
We made it to the cabin eventually.
From there, the weekend was a cozy blur of reading my copy of Gordis’ Epidemiology, romantic comedies playing on the TV, teaching everyone how to play my current favorite game – Bananagrams, cozying up in the hot tub, stumbling through four feet of snow, Hearts, and lots of packs of Pop Tarts. When I was in high school, one of my favorite activities climbing into my bedroom’s window seat surrounded by all of my blankets and pillows (my 100+ year old Victorian home was very drafty, and my bedroom was one of the coldest rooms in the house) to read a good book or attempt to write my own great American novel. Being surrounded by icy snow and warm friends again felt like a brief dip back into my old life.
And it felt so good to be home.