“Stuck in a Sneeze”

Bekhi Spika learns that even in a small town, life is what you make of it.

Bekhi Spika is navigating her 20s in a rural community, spending too much time making soup and putting together nude puzzles. She cannot think of anything more beautiful than the sunsets on her family’s farm.

This episode of Tell Us Something was recorded in front of a live audience on December 8th, 2015, at The Wilma in Missoula, MT. 8 storytellers shared their story based upon the theme “Illumination/Revelation”.

Today’s podcast comes to us from Bekhi Spika and is titled “Stuck in a Sneeze”.  Thank you for listening.

Transcript : Stuck in a Sneeze

Hi, guys. So, a few years ago I decided I was going to do a race, and I’m not the type to do races, so this was unusual, but I had a crush on an Australian, and he wanted to do the race so I did too. It was a good decision.

So, this race was unusual. It was at night, and it was a snowshoe race–or a skiing race–and it was across a frozen Lake Superior. So I was sort of getting in deep–I didn’t realize it. The day of the race I actually wasn’t speaking to the Australian anymore. We had sort of fallen out, but I decided I still wanted to do the race.

So, I drove five hours to Lake Superior. I was pissed at a friend, so I fumed the whole way. And when I got there I couldn’t find parking, and I–it just seemed very chaotic–I didn’t really know how to do a race. I put snowshoes on for the first time in my life, and I think I peed on myself in the porta potty. So, I was not feeling the race. I don’t know if it was a–a grand gesture is what was in my mind–but I kind of figured I’m not going to do it. I know I drove five hours, but I don’t want to do it. And I’m going to go look at the starting line, and I am going to bid it adieu, and go find a hotel and sleep really well.

And so I trudged on the frozen lake in my snowshoes for the first time, and kind of followed the crowd–because I think that’s what you do in races. And I was looking for the starting line, and I think it took about ten or fifteen minutes, and there was no starting line–but there was a mile marker–and I had made it about a mile into the race. And I was too embarrassed to turn around, so I just kept going.

And I love telling that story because it took me hours to do this race. It was a 10K, I’d never worn snowshoes before, I was alone, and I finished it, and it was awesome. And I tell people this, and they’re like, “You’re so brave”, and “That was great”, and I’m like, “But it was an accident!” And I love that. So, I did this race when I was living in Minneapolis, and it was–I think it was in 2014.

I grew up in the middle of Montana on a farm, and I think I sort of had a certain understanding of loneliness because of it. And I became very interested in people, and developing relationships with people, and getting inside somebody else’s head that wasn’t mine. So moving to the big city of Minneapolis was a big deal for me. It was an experience unlike anything I had had before. And I loved it.

I mostly loved it because there were a lot of guys there that I could date, and I did. I had an online profile, and I dated a lot of people, and I sort of met the city and developed into my twenties through all of these dates and these relationships. And that was really important to me. That’s kind of–that’s what I wanted for myself–and especially for my twenties.

I knew that the town that I came from in Montana–it’s Lewistown–maybe some of you have been there. (Cheers) Oh my God, I’m shocked. It’s a town of 6,000 people so–and it’s a retirement community, and there’s a lot of farming around there. So, I just couldn’t myself living there. I didn’t think that it was a place that you lived in the prime of your life. It was a place to live if you wanted to raise a family, or raise cats. So, I wasn’t ready for that. So, I was really determined to at least–I love my family, I love Montana–and I wanted to probably move back eventually, but not until I found a partner. So, I wasn’t going to.

And then, life happened–as it happens to a lot of us. And my sister who had been struggling with drug addiction, for the majority of her life, ended up overdosing on my family’s farm. And I had no choice, I felt like I need to be around the family. I needed to reconnect with my roots, and within a month of her death, I moved back home. So, it was a big change. I think in my head it was sort of like the end of my twenties, and I was only twenty-four, and that was very scary for me. It was hard to accept that at a time when I felt I should be exciting–and I wanted to date a lot, and I wanted to be immersed in a culture–that I was stuck in a town where the biggest news the week I moved back was the Chinese buffet, that it had reopened. And there was so much rejoicing! And I couldn’t–the week before–the month before I’d been in Minneapolis, and Obama was visiting, and it was like the same energy in Lewistown. Everybody was so excited.

So, it was such an adjustment. Even though I grew up there I just–I wasn’t ready for that. So, this all happened roughly a year ago, and I spent the last year maybe adjusting my expectations or realizing opportunity. When I moved home to central Montana–Lewistown, by the way, is the very exact geographical center of Montana. So we’re on all corners, right in the middle of everything. Living here I decided it would be a good idea to start a blog. Just like a private online journal, and I titled it Stuck in a Sneeze, because I felt like I was in that space where you kind of realize you had to sneeze so you look at the light. And then you wait, and you wait, and you wait, and somebody else talks to you and you’re still just waiting–waiting for something to happen. You know either you want the sneeze to happen, or you want the sneeze to go away, but you’re just kind of stuck in that middle area that’s uncomfortable. And that’s how I felt a lot of the time living in Lewistown. My twenties were over, and I was waiting for the next best thing–something to begin, basically.

I think when you’re in a point where you have no options you have to get creative. People ask me how I survive in a town that’s listed–not even kidding–on epodunk.com–and you get creative. There are about seven sit down restaurants. So I now am learning how to cook. Which is really great. I don’t go out clubbing, but I do subscribe to Club W. Which gives me wine every month, and I don’t–my social life really revolves around my family’s business. which is what I work for. We have a manufacturing company. It’s very interesting as it turns out. So, I hang out with my friends there, and I get to play bingo with my mom every Tuesday, and I go play pool with my dad every Thursday. So really, I do feel like I’m winning, kind of in a way.

I’m not trying to say that the experience is seamless, and everything is lovely, and that I’m happy being single. I think it’s hard to be single. I don’t know why this happens, but when you’re single you sort of get into yoga. It’s like, you get into it, and I am, I’m getting into yoga. And it’s really great. I also–like I said in my bio–I ordered a Playgirl puzzle. And I’ve never done puzzles before, but I’m really excited about this one. Yeah, it’s really great. The penis is one piece, though, so it’s not that great. But, you just sort of get creative. I make a lot of soup, and I’m really happy. So, I think – it has only been a year, and I’ve had to make some significant adjustments in my expectations of my twenties and myself. And I had this quote in college that came to me a lot, and it’s–it stuck out to me then, and it still sticks out to me, and it’s:

“You’re looking for things that don’t exist, things like beginnings, ends and beginnings. There are only middles.”

I think Robert Frost said it. And so it’s just a really nice concept that–yeah maybe I’m here in the middle of Montana, in the middle of my twenties, and I’m upset that the Amish kids didn’t hit on me. And embarrassingly the most action that I’ve got is from a metal gate that I tried to climb over, but I was too short. And it’s like, “this is my pathetic life”. But I’m right in the middle of it. I’m in the middle everything, and I don’t need to wait for something to begin, because kind of, I’ve already metaphorically started the race. Thank you.