Nick swore he'd die with this boots on, on some exotic safari, but he found his Kilimanjaro in a hospital on Earth, where they'd cured everything that was bothering him, except for the galloping pneumonia he'd picked up in the hospital. That had been, roughly, two hundred and fifty years ago. I'd been a pallbearer.
So I go to my first book signing, and these two girls came up and gave me a piece of paper: '10 reasons you should date our dad. He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. He's a lawyer.' He didn't know what was going on. He didn't even know me. They called him, and he came down and asked me out that day. Now I'm dating their dad!
Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai 'Ngaje Ngai', the House of God. Close to the western summit there is a dried and frozen carcas of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.
Her endeavor was misguided and wrong and maybe plain crazy, akin to someone waking up one day and deciding he's going to scale Kilimanjaro because he can't stop imagining the view from the top, the picture so arresting and beautiful that it too soon delivers him to a precarious ledge, where he can no longer turn back. And while it's easy to say this is a situation to be avoided, isn't this what we also fear and crave simultaneously, that some internal force which defies understanding might remake us into the people we dream we are?
You know that when Irving puts the dog in the car, it is no longer in the yard. When Edna goes to church, her head goes with her. If Doug is in the house, he must have gone through some opening unless he was born there and never left. If Sheila is alive at 9 A.M. and is alive at 5 P.M., she was also alive at noon. Zebras in the wild never wear underwear. Opening a jar of a new brand of peanut butter will not vaporize the house. People never shove meat thermometers in their ears. A gerbil is smaller than Mt. Kilimanjaro.