time is running out

25 February 2013 § Leave a comment

The weekend had offered more than we could handle: workshops on sacred sexuality; the New Warrior training with the ManKind project; the FisherPoets Gathering in Astoria; Fire Conclave practice; further recovery from the worst flu either of us had ever experienced. And I suppose I could have worked.

We’d been out of commission for two weeks, during which Heather took a road trip to California, and I shifted between the futon and the desk to edit my novel. The day after Heather returned, a dear friend stopped through Portland for a day, and work threatened our visit. I found him sitting in a Burger King on Hawthorne at ten at night, vagrants outside searching the trash cans for aluminum and cigarette butts. It wasn’t the first, or even the thousandth, place I’d expect to find Hargobind the Sikh yoga teacher who liked to discuss the intricacies of love and relationships over tea in the deserts of New Mexico. We all went for pizza instead.

Twenty four hours later, Heather and I sat in squeaky floor chairs in the old Masonic hall on 17th. A British woman rambled on about the secret sanctum (“do you know where that is, ladies?” she asked, giggling) and how it was impossible to reach Christhood if you’re not a priest or priestess. Occasionally her partner said something about embodying the masculine sexual expression, to which she rambled in response. Twenty minutes in, thirty-five of forty people were dozing off. I pretended to stretch and took a nap. Heather and I passed notes, which was okay because we sat in the back and weren’t bothering anyone. “Let’s go spin fire,” I wrote.

In the hallway dozens of photographs of prom queens decorated the walls. Names like Edna, Gertrude, and Esther matched the years in the captions: 1933, 1956, and through the ages. Sally smiled most recently, in 1994. Her teased blond hair glowed like 80s glam rock. The girls’ grandfathers’ photos adorned the opposite wall. I felt as if I was looking at a brick wall – rows of grumpy old white men in small glasses and corny suits hiding secrets in their kerchief pockets. I’m not sure they would approve of the candlelit woo-woo rambles in the other room. We left before the dead had their say in the matter.

From their we found the Watershed, an artist studio where some Fire Conclave people meet to trade spin tricks and show off their social awkwardness. The Conclave is a collective of jugglers, fire spinners (which includes staff, poi (think tennis balls on the end of a chain, one in each hand), hula hoops, bull whips, swords, and anything else you might want to set on fire and spin into shapes), and other circus arts performers who attenuate the flames at Burning Man, and make the world a beautiful place for acid trippers and children alike.

The next night, we’re sitting in Clemente’s, a restaurant in Astoria, Oregon, listening to FisherPoets read nostalgic passages of their seasons on the sea. Like the writers on the stages, we’ve got stories to tell, though we haven’t let thirty summers pass before we care to tell them. Though I’m ten feet away from the painted podium I can’t hear for shit; the sound man seems to have gone AWOL, and I check the PA system for syphilis. If only it was that good.

Later, a sexy fisherpoet named Tele (Norwegian for ‘tundra’), a Mat-Su valley girl who trolls out of Sitka, caught Heather’s eye, and we spent the next two hours tailing her words til she asked for our digits. Her musings on Home were as nomadic as mine, and after she read her essay I wondered what the hell I had to say anymore. Inspiration’s a bitch sometimes – she says ‘thanks for your attention, now go think something else.’ Like what? I need to find a day job, because this fishing thing is working out too well for me? I haven’t been doing it long enough to know anyone who’s drowned yet. (Though the skipper of the F/V Ark Angel was killed in a motorbike wreck in Thailand recently – does that count?)

I performed a piece for a poetry contest that ended the festival, and got a response from a 100+ person crowd any slam poet would likely cream his pants for. A twelve year old named Chloe took the contest, though, which might get her to take up poetry, or fishing. But I’m not sure how much money will be in either by the time she’s old enough to drink, a likely addiction of both professions. We took to the dance floor, then the road, and then bed, grooving to hip-hop beats and hopes that tomorrow we’d suddenly have more money in our pockets, more happiness in tow, and some resonance to flee with toward the fishing grounds.

Funny how we glide through experiences with the enthusiasm of travelers, adventurers, inventors, and our younger selves, asking the universe with sidelong glances how it could get any better than this before the madness slows, the highs and lows equalize, and we’re walking through the slurgi like companions of the day-to-day. With illnesses our bodies scream for attention – you’ve stressed me out, and now you’re gonna pay. Stare at the wall for a few days, slurp soup and eat vitamin C like candy, and I’ll think about letting you run through the hills, climb rocks, or see the sunset without seeing stars. Wait a minute. Your ambition is not as important as you think. Breathe in. Express. Breathe out again. Repeat.

And isn’t it funny how as soon as they let us loose again, were off for more adventures, impatient for experience. Connection, pizza, sex, fire, poetry. In two months I migrate to Alaska once again – for fishing, for writing, to bring in the abundance. The year is almost over, and it seems it’s just begun.

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