Friday, July 17, 2009

Land of the Winding Waters

Nine and a half hours of driving is what it takes to get from my house to Wallowa Lake. We've been here since Saturday. The internet in the cabin we're staying in gives me terrifying flashbacks to Campillos internet. That is to say, it is very, very slow and unreliable.
So what have I been doing with this delicate, tenuous, invisible bridge to the outside world? Planning a trip to Alaska. Cordova to be exact. Don't ask me why, as this particular town and I are sworn enemies. In fact, I have not set foot there in five years, and disaster after disaster after disaster has befallen me as I slept in that nowhere town beneath brilliant nowhere stars.
When I was 21, just married and six months pregnant, Mr. AwesomeCool and I decided to head north, live with his parents and work in Cordova for the summer. Summer is a very important time for me. The only time out of the whole year I don't ever get cold. I can shed all my layers and let my skin bake beneath the unrelenting sun.
"What is the weather like there?" I asked, timidly, the answer I already suspected, planting itself like a sickening dark cloud of wet in the pit of my soul.
"Uh . . . It's on the coast, so it stays warmer . . . " He answered vaguely.
"How warm?"
"It can get to be about 70."
"Oh." I left it at that.
Turns out, it get's to be about 70, maybe, two times the whole summer. The rest of the time, it hovers around 55.
As the plane touched down, through a blanket of clouds, the tears started flowing. I cried all the way to his parents house and to the grocery store (one of only two). Of course I didn't want anyone to know I was having a mental breakdown my very first day of an entire summer so I said my red watery eyes were the fault of their hairy little dog named Sparky and he was henceforth banned from the couch.
I got a job at the drugstore where they didn't realize I was pregnant until I was climbing a ladder and they saw the mound under my shirt.
They said, "Are you pregnant?!?! Get off of that ladder!"
His parents complained to him that I didn't clean up after myself and that he waited on me too much.
At some point somebody decided it would be a good idea to feed me duck eggs and tell me
they were chicken (I was only a vegetarian at this point).
The smell of the low tide was overwhelming.
There was rain, rain, rain, broken up by a few days of clouds. There was unrelenting rain.
After a month, the baby provided me escape, by deciding to kick her way out a few months early.
I was flown via medivac to Anchorage. After six weeks of that hell, I went back to Ashland in time to enjoy a month of blistering heat.

The next travesty didn't happen until four years later. We went to visit sometime in August for two weeks. By the last few days, I was aching to get back home. I missed the gym, I missed my organic food store, I missed the sun! My youngest was only four months old. I don't remember much about this trip, actually. Just that the house was full of food I found not fit for my babies' consumption and I was constantly finding them consuming it! Out of the house fishing was the favorite pastime. I assuaged my guilt by thinking of my grandparents, to whom the fish would be given and by making Mr. AwesomeCool beat the fish over the head, instead of ripping out their gills and letting them slowly suffocate. Less violent excursions led us to a glacier that cracked and splintered ice into the frigid waters of the Copper river and out on a boat in the ocean where a fish that bled blue blood was unfortunate collateral damage. I told them to throw it back. They said it was dying anyway.
We probably went to look for bears and probably saw some. I was sick of it. So the morning we were supposed to leave, we got up at 6 to finish packing and be ready for our early flight. I was using the Nordic Track when I heard Mr. AwesomeCool and his dad chattering excitedly about something downstairs. Then the phone rang. Who the fuck could that be??
They came upstairs and turned on the television. There were explosions and towers falling. It was September 11th.
Mr. AwesomeCool's dad turned to me smirking, "Flights are canceled, I guess you're not going anywhere."
We ended up staying almost a week longer. I don't remember that part, except I wanted to take a ferry to Ketchican and stay in a motel because I thought that would be better. I wanted to take their car and drive myself out of there. Except there isn't a road that goes out of Cordova. You have to sprout wings and fly, or learn to breath under water to escape.

This time I want to drive. I want to see Canada, from Washington to Alaska, a wide stretch of something better. Someplace I want my children to have. I want them to have something more.


Enormous Plumes of Smoke said...

Wow. That all sounds so miserable but I like that you are going back on your own terms. Very cool post.

LouDog said...

Melodramatic much? Its all lies! Cordova is the best place in the whole world! Plus, you are the only one who wants to go back there!

Expat Wannabe said...

Melodramatic when it's necessary. I really only wanted to somehow get stuck in Canada and live in Vancouver forever.