Thursday, April 26, 2012

It Will Bite You

I am amazed at how quickly everything is happening. The background checks and all the paperwork are over. I sat in the dining room of the boat and filled out chart after chart, line after line, detailing every medical event that's ever transpired in my life. It was the most fun ever, and I say that with sincerity. It's like a tiny, compact autobiography of trauma. 

My favorite question: Have you ever experienced a cold-weather related injury or illness? 
My answer: Frostbite and Hypothermia. (What I wanted to write was Frostbite!!! And HYPOTHERMIA!!!! But I kept it cool.) (Ha!)
Have you ever been hospitalized for a cold-weather related injury or illness?
Frostbite and Hypothermia.
Have you ever experienced sea-sickness? I chewed on the pen cap and studied my options: No. Yes. I don't know.
 I checked the little box next to I don't Know.
We'll Soon Find Out would have been my best answer.
I found a subletter for my place over the summer. I found a good home for my dog, just for the summer, with two people I trust more than I trust myself. I put my two weeks notice in at the Seattle Boulder Project where I work. Where I used to work. It was the most fun ever, and I say that with sincerity. I'll miss that place.
I'm packing my things into clear containers and pushing my seldom worn fleeces onto friends. I have this sudden and intense desire to be completely light, untethered, to be able to just bounce away without leaving very much behind.  Physically speaking, that is. Emotionally, forget about it. I am severely burdened by the amount of people I'm going to miss everyday, like a distracting injury or an emotional mass casualty incident in my head.

Ooh, but I get to be the Medical Person In Charge, so that will be great fun!

My to-do list is growing as fast as I can cross  things off. All these bright, inviting little restaurants are opening on Ballard Ave and I can't pass one without texting Andrew: We've got to go there before I leave! Like NOW! Like TONIGHT! 
Everyone who has ever been to South East Alaska gets this look in their eye when they find out that's where I'm going for the summer. It will bite you, they all say, the way it bit me. And you'll never get it out of your system. I believe them. I believed the CEO of Intersea Discoveries when he told us we'd never, ever be the same after setting foot in Alaska. It was easy to take his word for it because he was crying as he delivered his welcome speech. He was crying as he recounted his first trip to Alaska some thirty years prior, when he admitted how much fuel our fleet of seven boats would use over the course of three months. "Do we have to use the fuel? Yes, we do. Are we going to spill any into the sea?" He stopped and put his hands above him like a preacher. "God Forbid. God Forbid."

And so I know my whole world is about to expand and all that. I know, and I know that I can't know the extent of it. But at the same time, in this funny and fantastic dichotomy, my physical world is actually about to shrink. To the size of a small boat called The Safari Endeavor. And I am not going to be able to run.  I won't even be able to walk quickly. So for now, I'm running. I'm speeding all over the place. (On foot. I drive very carefully.)
Each night I pull the dog into bed and tell her about my day. Then I tell her I'll be leaving, but by Autumn I'll be back. And I'll have something that I've never really had before, when I get back. I tell her. This may come as a shock, babe, but when I come back, I'll have gained something really important.



Jeff in Oregon said...

Ahh....SouthEast Alaska. I lived there off and on for close to 18 years of my life. I'll say this, I miss the area, I don't miss the town I spent most of my time in. Ironically, the most of SE I've seen was from the deck of a fishing boat, from Craig up the Inside Passage to Lituya Bay and Cape Fairweather, then all the way back down the outside past Sitka..... and I've only ever set foot on Prince of Wales (and its outlying islands) and Ketchikan (Revilla/Gravina Islands).

I don miss it sometimes.

Kelle said...

I just caught up on your blog and I'm smiling. Your thirst for adventure and your willingness to wholeheartedly embrace risks, experience new things and learn more about people and the world is so refreshing...and motivating. As always, loving your writing.
xo Girl, you're gonna rock Alaska.

Cassandra said...

My world is about to expand but my pysical world is about to shrink. Love that. And I get it. :)

Jax said...

You never forget Alaska.... I haven't gotten it out of my system yet. I wasn't in SE, but i'm sure it's just as beautiful as up North.

sister said...

Man, I've been all OVER Alaska and I am pretty much the same as I was before. But, then again, I am never transformed by life's great journeys. Hmmmm......

Daniela said...

So I was just going over my blog, and noticed that I had two comments from a November post. One was from a friend, the second was from you. I just discovered your blogs. I'm hooked. I'm a stay at home mom with two kids, a dog and a hubby finishing up school. So I'm living a different type of adventure :-) But I'll be sure to tune into yours!

All my best, Daniela

Mackenzie said...

"I have this sudden and intense desire to be completely light, untethered, to be able to just bounce away without leaving very much behind."

This is one of the most exciting parts, I think. In the last few years, each time that I've had to downsize all my crap in order to take a big leap into something new, the selling and giving away of 'stuff' was so, so liberating. I relished that process. The untethering from the material remnants of our present lives seems to somehow make extra space for the mental expansion.

I'm so thrilled for you, and proud of you, and I'm going to miss you!