The Island Behind

O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland a’fore ye.

– Traditional Scottish Song

–The word of the Lord.
— Thanks be to God.

– Popular Church Refrain

I’m on the ferry coming back from Bainbridge, where I spent the afternoon/evening at my parents’ house. As I said yesterday, my original plan after physical therapy was to drive to Leavenworth, but then I thought, I don’t want to drive out to Leavenworth. But I do want to get off my boat. So I went to my parents’ house.

The seagulls are preening themselves this morning. They have such brilliant, white feathers. They are perfectly clean. No one is speaking on this ferry. Everyone is quiet. Everyone is wearing a mask. And now there’s a crow next to the seagulls, cawing. It’s just flown away. The seagulls did not bat an eye, so engrossed are they in their self-care. I wish I had a cam with which I could follow these two particular seagulls for the next 24 hours. What would they do? Where would they go? Will they spend most of the day on this piling next to the ferry? Where do they sleep at night?

Two Canadian geese drift into the picture on the water below. The geese have been very active around my boat lately. I don’t know if it’s mating season or what, but they’re always honking ferociously and a fight seems to have always broken out. Meanwhile the heron stand on the pier, in groups of 10-20, impassable. They look like old businessmen hunched over in grey suits. They fight too, and their fighting is hilarious. They rear their necks back but never seem to touch each other. Theirs is an elegant, capoeira style of fighting. And then they go back to being hunched over, looking out at the horizon.

The ferry leaves and the island recedes into the distance. We’ll be in Seattle soon, with all that that brings. The honking, the homeless, people generally seeming stressed out. I’ll get off the ferry and walk the two miles up the waterfront to my car, passing the strange tourists who at 8:30am are out walking the Seattle waterfront. There are always a few. Families. Sometimes masked, sometimes not. You wonder where they’re from. Renton? Yakima? South Dakota? I don’t understand what they’re doing, their thought process. But I prefer not understanding what they’re doing. I’m sure their explanation wouldn’t make sense to me.

The ferry groans slightly as it turns right to leave Eagle Harbor. It begins to shake. Everyone is still preturnaturally quiet, still wearing their masks except for one guy who has his mask off to eat and drink his coffee. Naturally, I despise him for this. Who are you to have your mask off, asshole? How is your coffee drinking somehow more important than the safety of those around you? I am a spectacular hypocrite, of course, because if I had a muffin, if I had an americano with just a little bit of heavy cream, if I had a latte and a scone, if I had a large earl grey tea with just a little bit of heavy crean, if I had a mocha, if I had a green tea, if I had a drip coffee, if I had whatever this guy is drinking, whatever this guy is eating, I’d be doing the exact same thing.

And there, look, he just put his mask on. Maybe he isn’t Satan. Maybe he’s actually a great guy.

Now we’re fully in the sound named after Peter Puget and the island has lost its grip on us. Not that it ever had a grip on us. But it was caressing us, and now the caress of the island is gone, the caress of tranquility, and the city and the skyline and the dirt and the noise spring ever more into view. The ferry is gathering speed now and shaking ferociously. Screws are coming loose. We sound like we’re about to take flight. We must be doing 20 knots now. The wake we’re putting off is tremendous as we round the last buoy and head straight toward Seattle, straight toward the metropolis, straight toward our destinies. What are my fellow ferry riders up to today? Are you all off to work? To visit friends? To conduct business transations? To go shopping? I have no idea. I imagine the first guess is the most accurate. This is, or was, a full-fledged commuter boat. Thousands of people would ride it every morning. The atmosphere then was always lively because anytime you have that many people in an enclosed space the atmosphere becomes lively. Groups of people who ride the boat together everyday, having the same conversations, gossiping. This was their last respite before working 9-5. And then in the evening they’d do it all over again, and when they got to the island everything would be quiet, or at least in comparison to Seattle, and they’d have dinner, and they’d hang out with their families, maybe do a little extra work, watch some TV, go to bed, get up and do it all over again.

But that was then.

I wish I had a coffee.

But I’m done with coffee.

Should I stop by Whole Foods on the way to my boat?

I have therapy at 10am.

Today is Tuesday, the year of Yaweh two thousand and twenty-one, the ninth day of March. Today the sun will set at approximately 6:06pm and there will be civil twilight until 6:36 and then nautical twilight for another half hour after that. At 7pm there will still be some vestiges of sunlight. And then in four days the clocks will change and at 8pm there will be some vestiges of light. This to me is always a bigger marker of spring than the actual day spring starts. Spring to me is a smell in the air. You’re walking one day, maybe in February, maybe in March, and a smell hits your nostrils and you think, That’s spring. That’s when spring arrives. It doesn’t have much to do with the official day.

I see Magnolia off to my right and I long for the island behind me.

A Boring Post

Today’s post is going to be boring. Do not get excited. Nothing is going to happen. I’m going to talk about the following things for 500 to 1000 words: what I’m doing right now; my day yesterday (I did nothing); my day today (I’m not doing anything).

Let’s dive right in.

A fireplace to my right. Windows in front of me. The buzz of my parents ancient globe caller ID coming from the kitchen. The sound of the fridge. Other than that it’s completely silent. A cup of tea to my left. Black tea. The scraping sound it makes as I pull it off the coaster and then the clinking sound it makes after I take a sip and put it back on.

The stillness outside. The fog or smoke. It’s hard to tell the difference. Just the still of everything. When I’m on my boat nothing is ever still. The boat is always moving. There’s always a creak of bumper against fiberglass. The groan of a line. The sound of seagulls or crows on the boathouse next door, their talons scraping against the sheet metal. The sound of distant traffic or a train or the lockmaster coming over the loudspeaker telling someone they’re incompetent. But here it’s not just the silence, because things are pretty silent. It’s the stillness. The floor not moving beneath me. No sounds in the house. The plants outside not moving. You could be forgiven for thinking time wasn’t advancing at all.

It’s a wonderful feeling.

I got up this morning at 8am. Walrused in bed for a bit then made my way downstairs where I prepared black tea with heavy cream. Had that and then listened to classical music. Had another cup of tea. Had a handful of nuts to make sure something was in my stomach to make sure the tea didn’t make me nauseous. Moved to the piano room where I worked on Chopin’s posthumous nocturne in C sharp. Played it pretty much all the way through. Worked the parts that have been giving me trouble. I find so many similarities between working a boulder problem and working on a piano piece. The individual stanzas are the moves and eventually you string them all the way together and send it, and it’s a very personal, satisfying feeling. No one to impress. This is why I like bouldering alone. No one to impress. I dont like filming either because it takes away from the purity of it. But I do like the grades! And the guidebook! That probably somehow makes it less pure, too, but I don’t care. Sometime I’ll try bouldering without a guidebook. Just finding shit that looks fun to climb and then doing it.

After playing the piano came to the hearth room where I’m sitting now enjoying the silence. The buzz of the caller ID machine. The sound of the ferry blasting in the distance.

Keeping an eye on the clock because I have a phone doctor’s appointment at 1230 for my shoulder. What are they going to be able to do? Hopefully they give me a referral for physical therapy. Hopefully they don’t just say, “The reason your shoulder sucks ass is because you’re getting old.” I know I’m not 23 anymore. But I also know it’s possible to be 37 and have a good shoulder. To send hard blocs. To project hard blocs. To climb almost everyday. Ive figured out how to surf everyday, I should be able to climb everyday, too. And thats all I want to do. Climb everyday. And read. And play the piano from time to time.

Yesterday I took the 2:05 ferry over from Seattle and it was crazy because you couldn’t see the ferry until it was about a hundred yards from the dock. The smoke was so thick. It stayed thick pretty much all the way through the sound and then cleared a bit once we got to the island. Supposedly it’s going to clear sometime this weekend. I don’t really notice it too much. I walked up from the ferry and said hi to my parents and then did a little rehab for my shoulder, aka strengthening exercises for my pecs which hopefully will balance out the stronger shoulder and back muscles I’m getting. My shoulder feels terrible right now but I think it’s from the deep tissue massage with the therapy cane and the foam roller more than anything. Stimulating blood flow? Maybe. I probably won’t climb unless Carolyn and I somehow do an evening Gold Bar sesh. Or I do a solo Gold Bar sesh. And then tomorrow it’s supposed to rain. So maybe not climb till Saturday? My body would love me for that.

I’m going to make another cup of tea. I love tea. I love caffeine. But not too much. I’ll probably listen to classical music and maybe do some yoga and straighten up the room I stay in when I come here. I don’t want to go back to my boat. I kind of hate my boat. I just want to disappear into the hills of Scotland and forget that things like YouTube and Facebook exist. Spend my days smelling the fresh earth and food that I’ve prepared that’s straight from my garden. And of course there’s no reason I couldn’t do that. But one thing at a time. First another cup of tea.

– W