This day, like that moment on a raft, when the boat folds in the middle of the biggest rapid, and that rapid’s name is Jaws. And the guide throws me a throwbag and he tells me to swim, and I can’t hear anything. And I am whimpering.
This day, like that moment in a river, when there’s safety on the other side. But between us and our boat, there’s a quarter mile of thigh-deep, silty current, only an hour or so since it was in ice. And the numbness negates the possibility to scout for quicksand; we just have to hope. And when one of us starts sinking, we just have to turn back into the cold, cold current and help.
This day, like that night on the Kahiltna when I heard ghosts.
This day, the fear is different, but still so strangely the same. It is not for an imminent watery grave, but for leaving all of my safety, all of my life behind. I am packing, I am saying my goodbyes. I am up all night before my 5-hour drive, deciding which of my so many things to bring. I’ve lived in this small town for 25 of my 30 years now. I am a big adventurer, but I am just a small-town girl.
And clutching some shimmery or sequined thing, something that I cannot stand to leave, I remember a time I was star-eyed crazy and thought about what it would be like to be
Someone who owned nothing.
Not a stitch of anything at all.
And thus: at home anywhere. Sans Terre.
In the morning I am frantic; I’m no good when I’ve not slept. And today’s drive away from home seems like that 6-Mile rapid, the Tuxedni river mouth, the Alaska Range and its ghostly holes.
Before I leave, I visit the eagles. There’s a family of four in a nest on my beach. The adults I’ve known for many years. And their babes, I like to think recognize me. This is my place, my bluffs, my sand, my tides. But as of tomorrow, I’ll be gone. Even if there’s not a tsunami, a quickness of water to wash my past away, will the eaglets remember me?
It’s driving time, so coffee-bellied and feeling like hell, I hit the road in ‘Lil Red. My dog, Eisen Snow and all my most important things in tow, to Anchorage, to America I go.