Thursday, February 11, 2010

This is what happened next

For Stephanie Jones Jordan

You can find the first part of this story here.

I was working as an English teacher for the New River Academy, and the quarter had just ended. It had been a really awful quarter for me and I was relieved it was finally over. In fact, the beginning of the summer I was pretty much worthless. I couldn’t do anything. I was just trying to recover from the past two months. Seeing as I was living in the house that, during the school year, served as the school campus, the recovery wasn’t going so well. What I needed was to be elsewhere.

I was half heartedly trying to get work as a video boater on the lower New. But the river was raging from some unexpected deluges upstate, and the American Whitewater charts I checked twice a day showed local river levels climbing unprecedentedly high. Despite the confidences given to my by David and my (very small) handful of friends, I knew I wasn't good enough to be paddling a high water New River gorge by myself.

In fact, the one time I did paddle the gorge only strengthened these convictions. I was with my friend Gilad. He was the last soldier to be wounded in the Israel Lebanon war, and he had a glass eye. I took a long swim above a dangerous sieve, and Gilad was screaming at me in Hebrew the whole time. I ended up washed up on the wrong side of the river. As I stood there shaking, I felt the anger and fear I had kept bottled up during the school year start to vibrate inside of me. I started to hate West Virginia.

As the light summer days flung by, I began to fantasize about Seattle- my old life, my old friends, my old neighborhoods. One image in particular crawled into my ear, sat down in my head and refused to leave. It was an image of myself showing up at my friends Steph and Ammen’s houseboat. I envisioned myself showing up unannounced, they wouldn't even know that I was in town. I would be holding a 5 dollar bouquet of flowers from Pike Place Market.

Out of all the lovely things to do in Seattle, of all the places and people in that city that I loved, it was this idea that stuck. Something was drawing me towards the doorway of that houseboat. It was like some invisible lasso looped around my rib cage, tugging me West. I needed to be out there.

I had no job in Seattle, a terrifically expensive city, and aside from a dozen friend's couches, I had no real place to live. I had to be back in West Virginia when school started up in the fall, so it didn't make any sense for me to go out to West.

But then one night I dreamt of being there, on the floating dock in front of their door, holding yellow flowers. I knocked on the door, anxious for Steph to open it, and then I woke up crying. Something about me you probably don't know, is that I don't cry very often. I can't cry very often. Ever since my doctor doubled my anxiety medication, it's been tough to gear up for that kind of emotional break.

That day I drove to Lewisburg to meet with an energy worker. (At that point I'd try anything to feel better- prescribed pharmaceuticals, energy healing, anything in between.) I lay on her table as she walked around me- a young, pretty woman with hands that moved quickly, pulling at invisible strings of energy. About five minutes into the session she paused, hands like held aloft like frozen birds. “Something is telling you to go somewhere." She told me. "I don't know where it is, but you do, and you have to go there."

Later that evening, I booked my ticket to Seattle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This gave me goosebumps! Love your writing.