Sunday, February 27, 2011


The autobiographer admits that, in hindsight, she was a bit more...animated....than normal on Wednesday, two days after her return from the island. She spent the first half of the day whipping around the house, unpacking, setting things straight, making things right, then she coasted down the hill to the cafe where, in the  good company of forty-three other caffeinated 20 somethings banging on keyboards, she banged on her own keyboard, wrote and deleted a good deal of words, and edited a slurry of photos in few short hours. Then- joy!- she encountered a friend sitting two tables down, who had just the previous night offered her two patient belays on the roof route in the gym. Which is not going perfectly:

keep it together keep it together keep it together keep it together keep it together keep it together keep it together


So she invaded his table and for a long while they discussed overhangs and heal hooks and toe hooks and all sorts of hooks, really. And books. At 5:00 on the dot she decided she must make a huge amount of soup, no real reason why as she was going out for dinner that night, but nevertheless she took off guns ablaze to the nearest whole foods which at 5:00pm may as well be a cattle yard. She went there and she went to the vegetable stand, indefatigable in the traffic and the sleet, and hurried home for a brief thirty minute period, wherein she performed something akin to vegetable martial arts, using every pot and cutting board in the house. She bottled it all up, right on time, nifty, threw it in the freezer, grabbed a coat and ran off in the snow to the Jolly Rogers Tap room.

There, underneath the hanging flag of a generic pirate, she ate a plate of very small cheeseburgers, 'sliders', and discussed with a table of mostly men their plans to climb the local volcano in early summer. Thoughts swarmed in clouds like bees, summits and snow fields and glacier goggles, the gear list and its stunning price tags blazing in front of her. She leaned forward, collected first names and phone numbers, grateful to finally be turning the people she saw every day at the rock gym into real friends, feeling enormously grateful to John, and his generosity in organizing and leading people like her on such a trek.

Caught up with the beer and the ambiance and dusty mountaineering terms rolling off her tongue,  she made plans for the next few days for climbing, dry tooling, lunch, birthday dinners. Then on the ride home, rolling past Wild West Trucks on Lake City lit up like Las Vegas, she was struck with the impulse to invite her friend Greg to come over and watch endless episodes of Parks and Recreation, what better way to spend a snowy city night?

Then she woke up the next morning with a potent case of bronchitis and couldn't move.


Which is where I stayed for about four days. Now, Sunday, I'm getting a little better. I can totter about the house. I can eat the damn soup that my subconscious made me make, for reasons not apparent at the time. But for those few days, it hurt. I was a little kid, shivering hard, instructing my brother in law to go out and buy me 'popsicles, you know, the whole fruit kind? Please!' I lay in my room, huddled in blankets and coughing hacking coughs, what the doctors would call a 'productive cough', shades drawn. My sister sticks her head in every few hours, 'don't you want some light in here?' and me, groaning, No. Another Popsicle. I faded in and out of feverish sleep and thought about the trip to the island, how cold and sunny it was, how energetic.

When we first arrived, just four of us to begin with, we walked through Ebey's landing where the air was crisp, smoke pluming from beach cabins in the distance. Ice crackled on the heaps of seaweed on the beach but the grass was a flourishing green.


Ammen Jordan's Photo
I lugged my tripod and lunch box of lenses to the top of the bluffs, hoping we'd be up there for the sunset. Worth it. Word of advice, it's always worth it to bring a tripod.

When the last of the light drained away, we turned back to the cabin where more of our friends had accumulated:

The cheesecake feeding frenzy, which one of you suckers gave me The Germ? Whatever, worth it.

To save us all the dreaded sentimentality that I'm sure your braced for after all those lovely images, I'll let the photos do the talking about our soiree on Whidbey Island. It's sufficient to say that, feeling shut away and lonely this past Saturday night, I clung to those photos and their vibrant colors, scrolled through them on repeat as I threw back shots of Robitussin.


So the dry tooling,  Jeff's birthday dinner, the Commodore's Formal Ball with all the sailors, the birthday party for Dave and the monthly Moth Storytelling and the climbing all went on without me, and I lay in a heap, like seaweed, thinking in a rare sun-ray of rationality that if I was missing all that in just three days of bronchitis, perhaps I over plan a bit.

Today, Sunday, I stand up wobbly, on sea legs. A few days with a seasonal sickness is nothing. But the dark days sliding into one another without a seam, lying on sweat-soaked sheets (at one point I took a hair dryer to them, no lie) were haunting to me. They reminded me of these days, when an angry shark tyrant with iron teeth lived inside my head and ruled my life. I don't like to be reminded of those days.

On the plus side, I ate as many Popsicles as I wanted and still lost five pounds.

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