Saturday, August 25, 2012

Everything was illuminated

On the plane ride from Juneau to Seattle, eleven o'clock at night, the boy next to me, a beloved crew member, tells me that "I am the stuff that dreams are made out of." Then he throws up into a bag. The flight attendants think that I'm his girlfriend so they give me wet towels to wash his face with. I'm not his girlfriend. I wash his face anyway. After all, he just gave me a really nice compliment.
Andrew picks me up at the airport. He's covered in scratches and bruises and he's exhausted from the weekend's climbing epic. I put my arms around his neck and hang on him like a monkey. He smells incredibly clean. He's brought me cake from our favorite bakery.

I did not have much to drink when I was released on vacation from the M/V Safari Endeavour. Sometimes sailors get too drunk and are booted off the airplane and nothing, nothing, was going to stop me from getting home to Seattle and that wild, scratched up adventure boy waiting for me.

The airport bar in Juneau cut us off and said that if one of us got one more drink, we'd all be banned from the airplane. I was sipping on seltzer with lime and when they said that I grabbed my bag and ran through security.
The land of South East Alaska is rising. It's a phenomenon called Isostatic Rebound. The land sat for so many millions of year beneath the enormous weight of glacier and now that the glacier is receding, the earth is springing back, slowly, like a sponge expanding after a stone has been lifted.

I'm on vacation in Seattle and I feel this physical and mental expansion as the glacial weight of the M/V Safari Endeavour recedes into memory. I like life aboard the ship. I've gotten good at it. But it's heavy. And when I run away for a bit, I have my own isostatic rebound. I feel buoyant, and cheerful and up for anything, and everything makes me ridiculously overjoyed. Everything. An iced tea. A spider. A text message. Traffic. How does Jonathan Safron Foer put it? Everything is illuminated. So imagine what it must be like to be my companion when we're doing something that would be deemed incredible even during the most regular of times and I'm on complete sensory overload.

I'd imagine it's very uplifting. And entertaining. And exhausting.
On Saturday, Andrew and his friend Avi and I hike up to the cold blue-green waters of Rachel Lake. It's warm and wildflowery and on the whole hike, there and back, Andrew and I are talking, talking, talking. Telling stories, telling jokes, playing word games. Then we plunge into the lake and I get a little concerned about just how fond I've become of this wild and capable and exceptionally strong guy. But then, it could be the isostatic rebound talking. I'm off the boat- emotions are not to be trusted.

On Saturday we attempt this route in Index called Davis Holland/ Lovin Arms. It's actually two routes stacked on top of one another. I tell him, and our friend Kristin who is a climber of exceptional strength, that I'm not strong enough to do DHLA. I've been on the boat for too long walking circles around the 400 deck, turning down the covers of beds when I should be doing yoga or push ups or something, but since chef quit and the hotel manager quit and everybody quit, we've all had to pitch in and do everybody else's jobs, and therefore there is no time to exercise and sometimes I eat my lunch in the shower because there's not enough time to do both.

You see? I plead. I'm not strong enough for DHLA. It's a hard route. I tried it before we set sail and didn't make it up above pitch 3 and I was in the best shape ever. Always wearing the tight tank tops. Just being a big show off. 
We do DHLA. I'm not strong enough. I fall- a lot- hitting the ledge hard on one particular overhang. I'm pulling on ropes and gear just to make it up. "THIS ISN'T AS BAD AS IT LOOKS!" I shout to a guy watching me from another route as I dangle on the rope. "I LIVE ON A BOAT! I'M NOT STRONG ANYMORE!"  

He shouts back, after watching me attack the overhang again, after the third big fall, "I THINK YOU'RE DOING FANTASTIC!" 

High up on the upper town wall of Index, four pitches up, I fall in love with Washington all over again. I'm so totally in love with Washington and I have a huge crush on the boy leading the pitches and it doesn't matter that I've forgotten how to climb and that I'm chanting "Fuck this SHIT!" over and over as I scratch my way up the wall. I'm off the boat. And I'm climbing. I really really love climbing. I'm in paradise. 

And then, on the walk back to the car, to the Mexican restaurant in Sultan where we drink cold beers and devour huge plates of food before saying one word (we're hungry), and afterwards, the long drive back to Seattle where I demand we listen to songs about sea creatures on repeat (The Mollusk, Ween)....before all of this and the rest of the week continues and the rest of my life goes by, the god damned train passes.  
Washington- you're the stuff that dreams are made out of. And now, I'm going to throw up on you. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This post is like a big flower bouquet. so beautiful and enjoyable. thank you!