Thursday, June 24, 2004

I realized something on the bike ride home form work today: I've been moving around a whole lot. So much so that I don't even know my current address. It's not like I simply forgot it. I moved into this new place, I knew it wasn't really permanent and I never got around to asking. How crazy is that? When you're ready to send me a letter, just put it in a bottle and toss it in the ocean. Maybe it will wash up on my shores.

In the spirit of my wanderings, I think that today it is necessary to give a serious shot out to myself. Or rather, myself one year ago. It's been just over a year since that day I packed up that old ratty army surplus bag with 3 outfits, my discman and a few books before boarding a plane. If my flight path was any indication of the adventure upon which I was partaking then Flying to Anchorage Alaska via Dallas, Texas should have clued me in on the absurdity. Anchorage is permanent summer. The sun never really sets. Baseball in the streets at 11:30 PM. 14 year olds out until 2. That's Anchorage in the summer. And then there was the sticky note. It had a flight number and a time and it was in my wallet. There was a small plane. WI wish you could have seen the group that boarded the plane. To nowhere. To PPT. First there was the waiting. The reading. The music. Watching the tide roll in and out again. Eating as many meals as possible.

Then I remember waking up in the morning after work. I remember my hands clenched. They refused to release their grasp. I remember that first 2 minutes just out of a deep deep sleep. I was ready to quit. I remember I would have sold my soul to quit. No price was too high. Then came 2:01, I dragged myself out of bed and off we went to work. There we were. 16 hours shifts. The fish and the belt and the songs in my head. The song in my heart. They would never beat that song out of me. They couldn't possibly. I could grade fish indefinitely. Yes, just keep telling yourself that. You have to keep hope. Because no one knows when it's time to leave. For nearly 6 weeks we were the kings of grading. 16 hour shifts. 8 hours to eat, sleep and shower. You learn a little something about your soul. About it's resiliency. About what you can find when you come to the core. When you've lost any semblance of time or meaning. In Naknek Alaska. At Pederson Point. At the end of the world. The Sun doesn't really set. And the fish. And the pain. My feet. And the freezers. Maybe I'll just take a nap. No. No sleep. Where am I? How did I get here? What time is it? 4? AM or PM? I suppose it doesn't even matter. The sun will always be there. And the smell. And Norah Jones will still be there sing me to sleep. I dunno if it's sleep. I close my eyes and in a flash it's back to the pier. Boots first. Yellow rain gear. Gloves. Makes sure there are no holes. Holes=death. Why won't snack time just come. It's 4th of july. Are you sure? There is no one for miles. And there is an Eskimo who shares my room. He drinks and drinks and drinks. Then he gets fired. There is no world. There is only Pederson Point. And no one knows when they get to leave. Until the plane flies. And the fish stop coming. But they never stop.

But then it's over. And you leave a little bit of your soul in that place. Out on Bristol Bay. Where the tide rises and falls as it chooses. Where the sun refuses to relent. Where the fish all slide by. And smile. Even without they're head. They're always smiling at you. And I just smiled on back. It's a smile that sticks with you. You could smile too. If you're up to it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your story on Pederson Point. In 1977 my father and I were port engineers there and I still remember the long shifts we used to work. Even though it was hard work I still have great memories of our summer there. Thanks !

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go to the website for more photos from Pederson Point, Naknek, and the Bristol Bay area. That's the site where this photo came from ...

9:34 AM  

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