I woke up, wide awake…earlier than I wanted to be. I have 7 hours of sleep which I’m sure is plenty for many folks but I usually need at least 8.
Stuck myself in the shower under running water and felt the relief…I only shower eery 2-3 days now, because of the drought. (But also just because.)
This morning, in the quiet still pre-dawn, I laid awake and thought of Washington. Of green, dripping trees and the beauty of things. I am reconnecting with my former selves and they are teaching me things. The 19 year old me stood under an arbor near the Sciences building of her junior college and dreamed of being an ethnobotanist. Breathing in the deep green of the leaves she exhaled a new breath and caught up. A few months earlier she had been on stage and had the epiphany that acting was NOT what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.
Truth to be told, her favorite class what art history. Her favorite part of that class was reserving the slide room and sitting in the dark with the images there for hours while the sky dripped outside.
The dream of ethnobotany disappeared with…I dunno. Reality, I suppose, that some of those folks end up working for major corporations who seek to patent things like the neem tree. Somehow, at some point, I just felt it was a losing battle. I always loved the sciences and humans, which is why…natural disaster came about for me as a research topic.
The 19 year old me got a job at Mount St. Helens…my first ranger job. She fearlessly stared down the volcano’s throat and went back there for 6 summers and 2 winters. So that’s where ethnobotany got replaced. Except there was no ethnogeology at the the time.
Eventually, going back to school, 25- year old me moved back to California for support from her father. She had been through one hell of a relationship. (Would 22-year old me have listened to 38 year-old me and STAYED THE HELL AWAY from that man?). Anthropology was still the love of her life, although she had passionate flings with geology now and then. And admittedly she still loved studying in the art gallery. It was actually quieter there than the library and she could be surrounded by beautiful things. She struggled through Spanish classes, even though it was her grandmother’s native tongue. Perhaps, she questioned, it was because she had not learned this “gringo” style Spanish. Perhaps it was also because she became fluent in Dutch while 16 and studying abroad…pushing a lot of Spanish out of her mind. She doesn’t know.
Throwing herself into schoolwork, she earns straight A’s for the first time since her senior year in high school. She becomes president of the Honors Society and finished her Master’s in 1.5 years. At the age of 28, she meets the man who would become her husband. Being a “renaissance man” they share a passion for all things artistic and scientific.
The year she turns 30 she goes to live in Maui with that same man. She gets an externship at a disaster center. Disaster has now become her life. It is a one year assignment. She gets offered a job in Belgium. The man proposes, she accepts. Her dream of being multicontinental comes true.
Belgium doesn’t last long. It is too rainy, too cold, and there is not enough nature. The job does not allow enough time to travel to places like Switzerland, where she could enjoy mountains and streams again.
She returns to the States, hoping her husband’s career will take off so she can just work part-time and take some time to decide what to do. She works part-time anyway, in case something he loves come up. It doesn’t. Her mother gets sick, then passes. This beautiful home in the Northwest where she had stood in canopies of shade now becomes a sickly dark cold place. There is no warmth here and her only sibling–well, her only sibling has shown true colors in light of her mother’s death. There is a flight back to California.
They try Hawaii again, this time with his job. It is a disaster. This forces her husband into a dark place, he has been slipping there gradually, but they were always so busy, she maybe hadn’t noticed. She has gone from researching disaster to living it. Back to the States. She always loved being a park ranger, and since Mom passed, it beckons. Another move.
Well, that leads her to the woman sitting before this computer today. A woman, who really wants to call her husband, who she is apart from, and invite him to a museum. Despite the immense difficulties, and the need for him to seek help on his own. She will probably just find a museum on her own, but she longs for the company. She may just be on her own for awhile. A woman who is dreaming again of canopies and green and realizing that the dark place was only dark in her grief. A woman emerging, not sure of what will work and what won’t, but wanting to try. A woman without children, who at this age may not have them, but still wants to try. A woman full of hope, who is taking the hand of the 19 year old and leading her toward the light.