4. The first climb of the spring season is called Rattletale, on the upper wall in Index, Washington. I sink my hands into the cold granite crack, all the way to the elbows. Andrew belays me from above, peering down and grinning. He's got a sweet, wicked grin.
this music on repeat. I've made the wrong decision. I know I have.
6. One night in June, under the still glowing Alaskan sky, I sit on the stern and watch a deckhand named Scott crush a barrel full of glass bottles. The glass will be thrown overboard on turn day. So this is where sea glass comes from, I realize. I've never thought to wonder.
7. On Sundays in Juneau, the mail arrives on the boat. A giant pile of letters and boxes and books sent from my friends, and, miraculously, from blog readers, piles up on my chair. One of the deckhands motions to the pile and punches my arm. "What the hell, Lina?" It feels like Christmas.
8. We are officially sailors on leave, which means we are drunk and rowdy and happy. On the plane to Seattle, the assistant engineer tells me that I am the stuff dreams are made out of. Then he sighs deeply, throws up, and falls asleep.
9. Adam plays guitar and we sing in the evenings, down in the dim, windowless crew quarters. It's wave over wave, sea over bow, I'm as happy a man as the sea will allow. As we sing, the boat rocks in the wake of a giant calving iceberg crashing into the sea.
10. Andrew calls me Melinafish. I don't know where it comes from. If I happen to be walking on the upper deck and we hit a random pocket of reception, I'll get a text from him: Melinafish, how is the swimming?
11. On the last night of a six month season, the crew is at the Boxcar in Magnolia. Everyone is drinking and kissing and smoking and singing. I climb up onto a table. "LET'S GO BACK TO THE BOAT!" I cry, raising my fist into the air. "LET'S GO IN THE HOT TUB AND SLEEP IN A SUITE!" Go in the hot tub, sleep in suite! It becomes a chant.
12. Now I'm running through Fishermen's terminal, out of my uniform and back in my own clothes, dodging the nets and buoys and piled crates. Andrew runs towards me, we meet in the middle, and it's all very dramatic. My legs wobble on dry land and I'm back home.
13. Dungarven, Ireland. My sister yanks me into a dress shop three minutes before my first performance. You are not wearing athletic clothes to your show! she hisses. She picks out a new dress for me. It fits. I throw a handful of Euros onto the table and then run down the ancient street and up three flights of stone stairs to the performance hall.
14. Sean studies metaphors about time for a living. His brother Dermot designs the sets for Tim Burton's movies. The three of us are standing in the pouring rain in a field full of rocks and sheep. "Here," says Dermot, "take this." He hands me his jacket. Their accents are thick and pretty.
15. In October, we sneak a chocolate cake into the woods and light the glittering 28 candle. Worn out from climbing, we cook dinner over the fire and sing happy birthday to Lisa. We manage to have an immensely good time and Andrew and I don't mention that this is our last climbing trip together. Our last anything together.
16. At a bar in Whitefish, Montana, Ryan orders me another beer and picks my head up off the table. "Kiddo, you never loved him. Why are you so sad?"
18. I begin each morning by counting pills. Celexa for depression, something for anxiety three times a day, vitamins for good measure. At night I can take a handful of Ambien and feel nothing. I could take a handful of Ambien and operate heavy machinery, even though they advise against that. That's how little it works for me.
19. I take the pulse of a man in Pioneer Square who is lying in a pile of bloody vomit. I can detect something beneath the tissue of the wrist, weak and thready but alive. I look at my watch, counting the beats. "What do you do now?" Asks the firemen who is crouched beside me. I know exactly what to do. Every word from the Alaskan Paramedic has stuck with me.
20. Colleen sits next to the mattress on the floor where I'm curled up. "Tomorrow, we're going to build you a dresser, because you can't live like this." She motions to the unkempt room, the clothes thrown about in heaps. She is is suddenly very serious. "You can't live like this any more, do you understand?"
21. After three months of silence, Andrew and I go out to dinner. He has a new girlfriend. He says, "We bought a used guitar in Albuquerque." I say, "Please do not tell me about your trip to Albuquerque."
22. In late January I start to laugh again. At the top of a mountain in the Cascades with a girlfriend on our 20th day of skiing. She says something funny, or maybe I do, and we both fall into the snow and laugh until we're so overheated we have to take all our clothes off.
24. Now Will is here, standing in my kitchen, and it feels normal, like he might live here. I'm so happy that I set out jars of daffodils and white candles and I set the daffodils on fire, I really do. He laughs and pulls me onto his lap, then pushes the hair from out of my face. "I just...love being around you," he says, kissing my forehead. For the first time in months I feel my body completely relax.
26. Something happens, and people start reading my blog. A huge shift, overnight, no subtleties. After five years, it seems like someone is finally paying attention. I think about this on the beach on Whidbey Island. I look over at the boy who is reading Edgar Keret out loud, he's such a private person, and I wonder how it could all possibly work out.
27. As the boat from Bainbridge draws closer, the blinking skyline of Seattle comes into focus. In his deep Tennessee accent, Will points out every part of the city that he can remember: "There's the needle, Volunteer park, Capitol hill, Redmond." He has his arms wrapped around me very tight, as if I might go overboard if I wasn't supported. I can't stop laughing, insisting that he's wrong: "No, that's not right, you can't even seen those things from here!" He says, "Shh, shh, this is how it goes." And then he starts over, from East to West: Needle, Volunteer Park, Capitol Hill.... He redesigns Seattle, it is a new city, composed entirely of places we've been together, the rest does not exist, the rest has never been.