Sunday, November 2, 2008

In Which We Come to Explore the Wreckage

Somebody went through the lodge swinging an ax and knocking through Walls. The place is a wreck, the fields overgrown, broken AT2 paddles with splintered blades are twisted with weeds. The ghosts boy paddlers roam the place now, an unlikely group of ghosts but there you have it.

We spent two nights there. Chico lives on the ground floor, where the boys used to sleep. The girls always slept in the upstairs, except when we were breaking the rules. Of course, it only took breaking the rules once and we were out of there. Like Veronica.

Chico lives with his girlfriend, Cara, and the place has been redone. But it still looks a lot like it used to, and the memories were searing, and I felt like I was underwater exploring a sunken ship. In the town of Brownsville, the lodge has become taboo, because of what happened. And because the school that tried to exist after we left was also abandoned. Nobody will fess up to owning the place. Every body left in the night. But I was so happy there. So was Calef, and Chico, and Ethan, while he lasted. Of course, that was seven years ago.

We paddled the West river in Jamaica, VT. Class III with some III+ and big water. It was an amazing play run, although I was concentrated on navigating my way downriver. I learned to catch micro eddies out of pure necessity, as Calef was the jr. world champions back in his day and Chico was pretty close to it. I watched them bang out dozens of cartwheels and clean cartwheels as I desperately tried to hang on in the swirly eddies. Running into Ethan Waldo on the river was fantastic, and it continued the 10 year tradition of running into each other in interesting places. I had a nice boof off of boof rock and caught some real air. Boof late ''s rather addicting. We did the run a few times. At the take out on the last run, Calef and Chico were laughing and trying to pull the other's skirt, and some stranger said something about boy love, with a laugh, and that made all the AQ boys go quiet and stop smiling.

The next day we went to Sumner Falls on the Connecticut river where I finally, for the first time, sank into a wave and got to surfing. (The one other time I'd tried to play was a hole on the sky, and I flipped on my head in the shallow spot and went dragging my knuckles downriver till I could compose myself enough to roll up. When I came up, Brett was sailing next to me and Keta and Joe Barkley were laughing from the eddy. Those last few runs on the skykomish were shallow as hell, but sweet times.)

Calef, Ethan, Chico and I stayed out for a few hours and watched the wave transform from foaming white into a smooth green tongue as the river levels rose with the dam release. I think the only time I've seen Ethan smile genuinely is when we're on the river.

Thrown in the back of a truck full of kayaks and wet gear, pulling into the lodge, brought back the memories again. It was hard to sleep there without dreaming of school days. I woke up disoriented. Calef and I took off to boat in New Hampshire, but the rig broke down, the part that arrived the next evening wasn't right, we couldn't get it started and then Calef was suddenly ripped from the vacation and summoned to Virginia, and that was it.

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