Seven months… God time has been flying by! I realize I’m not writing here nearly often enough and I apologize to those of you who have checked back in on me and haven’t found anything for the past little while. When I finally found a moment to write here today I looked back at my last post and the comments people have left and at first I couldn’t believe it had been seven whole months since the last time I shared with all of you where I’m at! Secondly it brought tears to my eyes to see the outpouring of support still coming my way and it’s a smack in the face that I need to absorb more of that support to keep me pointed in the right direction. So much can happen in seven months the good news is we are in a much better place than when I last wrote here!
Katrina and I remained very much in the position we were in the last time I wrote until the end of June when a spur of the moment decision had us scouring Portland for something, anything that would work to get us out of our hotel room (the one we are forbidden to mention). Within a week we had found an apartment that somewhat served our needs, great location, more space for me to roll but still lacking the accessibility features I will one day need in my home. Within a week we had signed the lease called upon our old friend Jake to load our storage unit into a truck and drive from Colorado to Portland, had my brother come down from Vancouver, and watched the both of them unload our home. We also shuffled away the majority of our possessions into a storage unit to call upon when we actually have a house that we feel comfortable to fully unwind into.
This move was a huge turning point for us this summer as it finally got us into a better space where we could start to accept some of the help that was abundantly waiting for us to call upon. Katrina had not been home to Michigan in quite some time so we had my Mom come and trained her in my daily care so that Katrina (the trainer) could go home and visit her family! This was much needed as she has been by my side and my primary caregiver since the first day she showed up in ICU back in January 2009. It was great getting to spend some time with my Mom and at the same time it was an eye-opening experience that I did not feel comfortable having her as my fallback. It’s a very hard thing to bring a third party into your life to take care of the most necessary human functions but there are definitely boundaries that come up from having the people you love the most a little too close sometimes. However having my Mom trained to be my caregiver has been great as it also allowed Katrina to take another week and go be a bridesmaid in her good friend Alyssa’s wedding in New Mexico. Each time Katrina got to take a little vacation she came back refreshed and ready to take on the world once again.
Katrina and I also got the opportunity to do some traveling which was great as traveling was such a huge part of our lives before my injury. First we went down to Huntington Beach for the US Open of surfing where I had a big Nike summit with coworkers joining us from all over the globe. Katrina’s best friend Lexi lives in LA and they got to spend some quality time together while I was in meetings which was great for her and we also got to run into our good friend Jake who was also in town for the Nike meetings. Jake has been an integral part of our lives since my injury from the second he turned me over in the pool and saved me from drowning through the countless trips to storage and moving us from Boulder to California to Oregon and another trip from Colorado to Oregon. Jake’s one of those people that would do anything for anyone and we are blessed to have him on this earth and as our friend. He even reluctantly stood in for me as Katrina’s dance partner as we all took on the final party of the event until the wee hours of the morning.
Our next traveling experience was a two-week vacation to Canada for a film festival in Montréal and a wedding in Pemberton BC. This was such a special trip! Everything went smoothly on the travel side (which as you can imagine sometimes it doesn’t) spending a week in Montréal with many of our great friends from the ski industry and watching all the latest greatest ski movies was quite a treat. Once again we got to connect with Jake as well as Simon and his girlfriend Charlie who we hadn’t seen in quite some time. I also got to spend some quality time with my good friends Eric Iberg and Tanner Hall who showed their documentary “Like a Lion” the raw story of Tanners life, a must-see film. I hadn’t seen either of them since our friend CR passed away so it was emotional for me on many levels. After watching their film I just buried my head in Katrina’s chest and cried. When I realize how many brotherhoods and friends I have been blessed to have in this crazy life of mine I can’t help but be proud as so many of us are growing out of what we once were into the possibilities of what we will one day become. Our trip to Montréal was capped off with a super cowboy Cessna flight arranged by the event organizer and good friend JF. It was a great way to see the city but our life was definitely in the hands of a crazy Frenchman and I’m not sure everything we were up to was legal.
After Montréal we shot back to Vancouver where we spent a couple days in my old stomping grounds Squamish with our good friends Sarah and Rory before their wedding up in Pemberton which was another gathering of great friends and a very beautiful and special uniting of two people who just belong together! I was lucky enough to spend quite a few years traveling the world with Rory and filming his crazy antics and his relationship with Sarah unfolded in front of my eyes on some of our film trips. It was very special to see such great people unite in such a beautiful place with such a beautiful community around them! We left Canada with a very special import… my brother Travis! Travis has lived in Vancouver the last five years attending university and I’m more than happy to announce that he is now our neighbor living in Portland and working for Katrina at Bobknits and also just a phone call away for anything I might need. It’s been really special to get to spend more time with Travis, we both were on such different paths for a number of years that it seemed like I lost touch with who my brother had become as an adult. I’m happy to report he’s a standup dude!
Coming back from Canada it was time to jump right back into things at Nike, as it never really slows down around here. I couldn’t be happier with my work situation, my colleagues, the environment, the projects and the challenges. The amazing opportunity to work for such a great company is keeping me engaged and excited to go to work everyday. I know that’s a rarity and I’m trying to cherish every moment and learn from all the incredibly talented people surrounding me.
There have definitely been a couple other highlights this summer and fall. Friends coming to visit from Southern California, spent some time with Katrina’s dad, got to spend some quality time with my mom and a few visits here and there with my dad (he’s been quite busy working on fishing boats in Alaska, living the life). My good friend Johnny brought his new windsurfing film to Portland for a screening and as I sat in the back of the theater and watched it with him getting all the editorial notes on the amazing action going on in front of me one thing he said to me really stuck… “You know the only really important thing in life is our friends, nothing else matters as long as we have each other”.
I consider myself one of the luckiest people on this earth. My support system is dedicated and unwavering every moment of every day. Every moment I have free there is someone I need to get back to, someone that’s reached out to me to lend their support or their friendship or because memories that need to be shared have resurfaced. If I could wish for one thing it would be for an extra couple hours in the day that I could spend connecting with all of you so that you know your support is not going unheard or unfelt. For those of you who’ve called me an inspiration I am truly touched that I could inspire you in any way. Being an inspiration to anyone is definitely big shoes to fill and it’s humbling that any of you would see inspiration in my situation.
Because honestly I didn’t have to look too hard to find the amazing people that are in my life and those amazing people are the ones that made me decide to pick myself up, dust myself off and continue being Riley. My body may be hurt but my mind and my heart are as strong as ever and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. If there’s anything to be learned from or inspired by from what I’m going through it’s that human connection is priceless so take advantage of every one you come across.