Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Weekend Pacifist

The end of a long, busy week. The eye of the world has been focused on a piece of cold desert in South America, where just hours ago the Phoenix wrenched the last of the Chilean miners back onto the surface of the earth. At about the same time, David boarded a plane to Chile for six months, if not forever, loaded with creek boats, mountain bikes, and five thousand dollars worth of camera equipment that someone on the airline would steal somewhere during between Dallas and Santiago.

It wasn't too long ago that David offered me a life in Chile. "Six months in Pucon, six months wherever you want. Vermont, Seattle, absolutely anywhere." He'd said. I could write down there, teach at the school, lead the gap year program, be the host at the Pucon Kayak Hostel that he owns on the banks of the Rio Trancura. Run the Palguin in the afternoons, drink Piscos at Mamas y Tapas every night with the rest of the white guy paddlers down there. Live a dream life. Somebody's dream life.

But not mine apparently. I decided I was too young to lock down my life in one particular place, with one particular person, doing one particular thing. It was all laid out before me and I could have reached out my hand and claimed it, just like that. But I didn't. I wanted to go back to Seattle, be alone, and figure it all out by myself. Sort of a toss my self out there and see where I'd land situation.

It wasn't until the mine collapsed on 31 Chileans (and one Bolivian) and that one particularly beautiful, heart-wrenching country became ubiquitous in the news, that I started to realize how much I miss it. How much I want to go back.  I have dreams about the restaurant at Cascadas des las Animas over the Maipo river, and I'm wearing silver and leather and bronze.

But here I am in Seattle, wearing work clothes, and it's almost midnight. I glance at the ink-darkened calendar that hangs on my wall and make a decision. For the first time since I moved back to Seattle, I opted to stay in the city for the weekend. No packing, no traffic, no planning, no sleeping bag, no cliffs, no ocean. I decided to just relax and let the city swirl around me. Even though it was the annual Qunault mushroom festival up in the Ho rain forest that I've gone to for years with Ammen and Steph....I decided to just stay in. ( Also, I've learned recently, I'm just not that interested in mushrooms. Strange.) For whatever reason, I craved two whole days in the city, with no plans, and no idea where I'd end up.

And so on Friday night, I wound up in Ballard in the gleaming, immaculate, cherry-floored home of an ER doctor and his alcohol-wielding vodka rep friend.  Michelle was cooking enchiladas with cocoa powder and we were all celebrating.  Michelle had just passed the bar exam was leaving the next day for Mexico for six weeks. And when she gets back, she's moving to Revelstoke. For good. To run around in the Canadian mountains for the rest of her life. Which is too bad, because it's not anyone who will say, "Sure, why not" when I invite them- totally out of the blue- to spend the week with me up on the Ottawa river.

Lisa just got a grant from the city to go forward with her Go Girl Go initiative to bring The Light of ultimate  Frisbee to kids with less money than the normal Frisbee playing kids. And she plays on Riot, who just claimed the #1 seed in the nation and are heading to Nationals in a week. She's one of those wholly 'together' people who always has cause to enjoy a good, celebratory  midori sour.
And me? I got a new lens, baby! A super fast lens that fulfills exactly 1/3 of the photography chamber in my diagram of heart's desires.  (A Zoom and  Fish eye would make me whole, in case you're making a list of presents you want to buy for me.) It's no secret that I couldn't afford this lens. I didn't buy it. It was given to me. By this wonderful, benevolent friend who knows what a difference a super fast shutter speed and a wide open aperture will make.

 Also, I was celebrating the successful sold out climbing film festival that I MC-ed with my friend Natalie. That I can now check off of my list of life's goal the one that says: Stand up in front of a packed movie theater and shout "WHAT'S UP SEATTLE!!!!" into a microphone.  And I'll throw in this- the fact that I have figured out a good balance of work, money, climbing, writing. It won't last forever but fuck it. It works for now and this weekend, I'm celebrating.
Anyway, it's not like we need a reason to enjoy ourselves. The very face that I was in Ballard, my favorite neighborhood in Seattle, was reason enough. So what if its fishermen's wharf atmosphere and quirky Norwegian roots had been severed by the pale hand of gentrification (they leveled the bowling alley for luxury condos- what the hell, people!)- it's still Ballard. It's still got the Locks, bonfires on Golden Gardens (if you can fight your way through the crowds on any given evening to claim one, but I'm not above throwing a few 'bows,) and stone gardens and Miro tea house with it's mango Bavarian cheesecake.

Also, I'm out with friends. Girl friends. And as much as I miss traveling, Chile, and the boys, I was often really lonely over there.  I used to download sex and the city episodes onto my ipod and straight up horde them. If I could have taken them intravenously, I would have. I'd lie in my tent and stare at the glowing, one inch by one inch screen. Then someone zip open the tent fly, stick their head in and shout "Hey you want to come sit by the fire and sing songs with Chilean cowboys and have a genuine cultural experience?" And I'd shout back "NO! GO AWAY!! DO NOT BOTHER ME!"  Those were good times. And while you'll never hear me breathe a word against Sex and The City, there's something to be said about having real, flesh and blood girl friends.

All I'm saying is, right now I'm appreciating all the little things that we do together, like trying to decipher the illogical and vague texts from those of the opposite gender. Pure poetry for someone whose lived with only boys for the past two years. 

Lisa and I both had early Saturday mornings so we took off, saying goodbye to Michelle. While in Mexico, she's doing this beach side yoga teacher certification program. She'll be returning tanned, (more) blond, strong, fit, and 'centered'. Fear it. Lisa and I will be in the beginning phases of our pale and sedentary Seattle winter. For obvious reasons, we won't be willing to be in the same room as Michelle for a good few months. And so we said goodbye. And Good luck. Show those boys mercy.

 Lis and I were planning on heading home, we really were, but just after we left, we got a phone call from Seth who was up from Oregon just for the weekend.  And he happened to be near Capitol Hill, and it turned out that Kendra was also in capitol hill. And so it came to pass that nearing midnight on a Friday night, we  were walking down the busy streets around Broadway, on our way to the Elysian brewery.

If you're not from Seattle, then I'll have you know that Capitol Hill is the most happening neighborhood in Seattle. It's perched right above downtown. It's where all the gay bars are. It scared the crap out of me when I first went there, seventeen years old,  via the #44 bus. I was on an innocent outing to buy a butterfly chair for my dorm room. I saw a woman with a purse shaped like a coffin and man leading another man on a leash. On the way home, a man sat next to me on the bus with a profusely bleeding head wound. I remember I was wearing sweat pants and a grey American eagle tank top and feeling like the most boring person on the face of the earth. Also, I was terrified. This place is hopping

One moment, around the time the waitress came around for the third time with more pint glasses of beer, it dawned on me that everyone sitting around the table had visited me in Vermont.  Obviously Kendra- she and I grew up together there. And Lisa, a native Seattlite, had flown 3,000 miles in the dead of winter to watch Obama get sworn into office.  And Seth had biked 3,000 miles for me to cook him chicken pot pie in my red basement kitchen. It's a good table to be sitting at where everyone has visited you in your childhood home, in a state so far that some people still thinks it's in Canada. 

By the time I had made it back to Lake City, which is nearby to nothing, tucked Seth away on the couch and fallen into bed, it was very early morning. And there were two entire days hovering before me with absolutely  nothing planned. Brilliant.


mona said...

I love your life. I love love love it. Wherever you are, you will always bring that a gift of writing and that spirit that always draws people in.

Jessica said...

The new lens is already adding a lot. Those photos are beautiful and very clear. You're an awesome photographer and I can't wait to see what else you do with this new addition to the fam.

Andy said...

Damn girl! You got the best of both worlds! Where are you going next weekend, and are you going with your boat or with your trad rack? Let me know?

Anonymous said...

Very nice post!