Monday, October 20, 2008

Days & Nights

I'm looking outside, to the south. I have a gorgeous view of the gorge cliffs. The colors have started to change so the deep dark green cliffs now have patches of yellow and orange here and there. A moment ago, it was pouring down rain. No wind, just huge fat drops of rain falling to the ground. Above, gray and white clouds move quickly East.

Mario is upstairs talking with the InDesign folks. InDesign is the new PageMaker. We use PageMaker to create our various books. He's been working on the cover of Church of the Old Mermaids. I have the TV on in the background, Hardball with Chris Matthews. I wanted to see how the Republicans can justify the hate they've been spewing. (They can't.)

Maybe I should turn it off and just watch the clouds drift overhead.

When it rains like this, the missing tiles on the Methodist Church across the street really show up, like when you put a dull rock in the water and suddenly the colors pop.

After the Gathering last week, I couldn't sleep. The next night I couldn't sleep either, not until about 4:00 a.m. (So that was 72 hours with about six hours sleep.) An hour and a half later I woke up with terrible anxiety. I felt like I was dying or my brain was coming apart. I had had a little sugar and chocolate the night before. I sometimes have reactions like this to caffeine and/or chocolate and sugar. I can't tell when this will happen, but it's one of the reasons I have black or green tea about once a year and the same with sugar. Anyway, it was terrible. I couldn't get off the couch I was so terrified. I just kept telling myself to breathe, breathe. I could hear Mario upstairs working, but I didn't want to disturb him. What could he do? I just had to breathe, breathe. I felt stupid, too. If the anxiety (that's such a mild word for what I was feeling) was caused by what I ate, how could I have been so stupid?

A couple hours later, Mario came downstairs and I whispered what was wrong with me. As soon as he touched me, I started to feel slightly better. Skin on skin. The best healing agent.

The clouds above are roiling now, almost like smoke from some unseen fire. Starlings fly below the clouds. A light is blinking on and off across the river.

At the Gathering on Wednesday, one of the women was talking about how her mother was choosing to be difficult, choosing to be depressed. When she was finished, I said, "But no one chooses to be depressed. It's a disease." I think I embarrassed her. I shouldn't have said anything. But it worries me when people think that way about mental disease. My mother did not choose to be depressed. I have never chosen to be depressed.

I was so sick on Friday. I wondered if I would ever get better. I just breathed and breathed. Mario made me breakfast. He rubbed my feet. And then he went to work.

On Saturday morning, I was still woozy, but I felt much better. We headed east toward Goldendale where a friend was holding her wedding reception. It was a beautiful drive. I have lived in the gorge since 1987, and I never get tired of this drive. As you go east, the hills rise up on the north side of the road, huge, always reminding me of the thighs of some great goddess. At this time of year, the hills are beige and golden with dried grass. It's soothing to look at them. They go on for so long that it feels as though we're moving slowly, able to take it all in.

Soon we were up on top of the hills, and meadows unrolled all around us. To the north was Mount Adams partially covered in snow. Big sky country.

I breathed deeply. We had lived in this part of the state twenty years ago and it was one of the worst years of my life. I got so sick. I was so miserable. Everything seemed ugly and sad and depressing. I was so happy to leave. Now, I enjoy returning every once in a while for a visit, especially for something like a wedding reception.

We drove until we came to a grange in one of the small towns in the area. "Town" is probably the wrong word. I didn't see any stores. Someone had wrapped wildflowers around the railing on the steps to the grange. Inside the grange, someone played the piano. We knew a couple people, so we talked and looked at photos from the couple's wedding in Switzerland. The bride is about my age, falling in love and getting married for the first time. I feel so blessed (yes, blessed) to be in this place with her family and friends to see her love and be loved. The couple came into the grange dressed in their wedding clothes, and they received a wedding blessing from the Methodist preacher. (I think she was the Methodist minister.) I can't remember any of the words, but it was lovely. Not a word about god. Just about love.

After we ate, Mario and I decided to go home. We had to wait to leave because a herd of cattle was coming through. Border collies and men, women, and children on horses kept the cows going down the street. One of the young boys practiced roping as they rode by. Some of the cows called out. There was something restful and beautiful about watching the cattle and the horses, the dogs and the people. It was a glorious crisp clear day. I was standing on the Earth next to my man.

Breathe, breathe, breathe.

Later, Mario and I went to Eagle Creek to watch the salmon. Ahhhh. My, my, my. How can I articulate my love and admiration for these maroon-colored divinities? Massed together near the falls, they turned the water burgundy-colored. And they leaped, leaped, leaped into the air! Some of them had pieces of their flesh gone, yet they still had amazing energy. They were still alive. Laying eggs. Mating.

I whispered sweet nothings to them. No, I whispered sweet somethings to them and they stayed close to me and I to them. Remembering what the Old Mermaids said, "Laugh or cry, we swim in your tears." Do the salmon swim in our blood? Does the wisdom of the salmon swim in our blood? What is their wisdom?

You can go home again.

You are home, baby dolls. This is it, this is da place.

Love, love, love.

Later, later, later, Mario and I went to dinner in Portland. Then we stopped at Powell's. Often I long for other places. Especially the Southwest. Many days I wonder why I am here instead of somewhere else. This night I said to Mario what I have said before, "I stay here because of Powell's." I love living an hour from this bookstore. I have watched it change from this relatively small store where you could find amazing books for a quarter and where you could never find anyone willing to help you into this gigantic store with branches all over the city. The people who work there are much more helpful than they were twenty years ago. It is an adventure each and every time I go there. Will I be overwhelmed? Will I spend too much money? Will I find something to change my life? Will I cry? Will I find my own books on the shelves? Sometimes it feels as though I am in the modern version of the library at Alexandria when I'm at Powell's.

After Powell's (this night I didn't buy anything), I went to Vancouver and did some library work. Then we decided to go to the movies. We went to "W." We were so bored that we almost left after the first half hour, then after the first 45 minutes, then after the first hour. Bill Maher had said it was funny, so we waited for funny. I laughed very little. It was like watching a Lifetime movie or movie of the week about George W. Bush. I groaned and moaned. I kept waiting for Oliver Stone to redeem himself—or the movie. My dad said he heard an interview with Stone and Stone said George W. Bush was a great American. My dad couldn't believe he was serious. Well, after seeing the movie, I'd say Stone was serious. This movie was close to a Valentine to Bush—or at least a "it wasn't your fault but your father's and the people you hired to ruin our country." Maybe it's all too fresh for me. But I did not enjoy two hours of watching this buffoon lead our country into the abyss.

I wish it had been funny. That's why I went.

We should have ended the day with the salmon, or even with Powell's.

The rain has stopped now. Mario is off the phone. I've got dinner heating in the oven. I've just realized how long this post is. I think I've said enough for now.

Time to eat.

May You Wander in Beauty!

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