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Eyewitness to mystery

I'm just back from my second trip to Rockaway Beach on the Oregon Coast with my friend Kristal. Kristal is a breast cancer survivor whom I met at the beginning of the year through my co-worker Abi. Kristal has been a huge support to me while I've undergone treatment, accompanying me on long walks to help me keep my strength up, and sharing her own harrowing treatment stories. The chemo she went through not only took all her hair and eyelashes, but eventually her fingernails too. In the beginning Abi was usually part of the outings, but eventually she found a boyfriend, and Kristal and I started walking and talking on our own. Then one day she invited me to join her on a day trip to Lummi Island, and I felt that something was beginning to happen between us.

Not long after that she invited me to join her on a two-day trip to Rockaway Beach to celebrate her birthday. I wasn't sure what her intent was, but I took it as an opportunity to get to know her better. So I asked her a bunch of nosy questions including why she had invited me. She told me that she just liked me and thought I'd be fun to hang out with in one of her favorite get-away spots. Fair enough. However, my own affection for her was starting to change in response to getting to know her better: her camera-shyness; the way she obsessively listens to the same music over and over (currently Bon Iver); her dysfunctional family background; her love of poetry; her desire to enjoy life to the fullest while she still can; and her mad skills as a photographer.

So I was the one who pushed for another outing to Rockaway this month. Last time we hit the coast on November 8th and then watched with horror as America elected Trump as president. That really ruined everything, including our attempt to escape the world for a little while. This time would be better, we hoped. Unfortunately, despite all the signs that she wasn't interested in me romantically -- the lack of physical affection, the way she immediately deflected any flirtation or expressions of affection on my part -- failed to penetrate my silly heart, and I started feeling frustrated by her unresponsiveness and emotional distance. Eventually I started feeling pretty grumpy and alienated about it. I woke up on Friday in a foul mood, thinking I didn't understand her or what the hell was going on. I walked out into the front room before sunrise in order to stew upon it in the dark and spotted the three-quarters moon hanging over the trail from the cottage to the beach.

2016-12-16 Moon Path.jpg

It was like the beginning of a pirate movie, or a gothic thriller, or an A. Merritt super scientific adventure. I felt that I had suddenly been transported into a much larger, more glorious universe, where my romantic confusion was a piddling bunch of bullshit that had been blown completely out of proportion. I threw on some warm clothes, raced down to the frigid beach, and felt myself in the presence of an archaic power much more ancient than life or love and before which I was completely helpless. Which I think is Kristal's goal in these trips to the ocean: to connect to a deeper sense of mystery and awe than we generally experience in our day-to-day lives, and that is a particularly healing solace to someone with death by cancer looming over their future.

Today she confirmed that she just wants a traveling buddy, not a boyfriend. I've been on the other side of that divide, so who am I to pout? Well, a human being, that's who, but I hope the pouting doesn't last long. It turns out I very much do understand her and what the hell is going on; I was just in denial. Why waste time on minor riddles of the heart, when there are much vaster mysteries at work? Mysteries that can open me like a can opener and swallow my innards whole in an eyeblink. It happened to me last December, in fact. My world and life have been transformed for the worse, but it's still full of beauty that takes my breath away. I yearn for love, but I've always made do with a sense of wonder. Meanwhile, I hope that Kristal and I can continue to console each other for the shitty bad luck we both ran into when we ran head first (or breast first, in her case) into cancer.

2016-12-16 Moon Ocean.jpg

POSTSCRIPT: I know that at least one of you saw a post I put up briefly after the November trip. If you saw that one, I ask you to pretend you didn't and restrict your comments to this one.



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 17th, 2016 08:47 pm (UTC)
Wonder full. This makes me think of "Become Ocean." (Or "Becoming Ocean.")

Dec. 17th, 2016 08:50 pm (UTC)
Become Ocean. I was just listening to that last night, in fact.
Dec. 17th, 2016 11:54 pm (UTC)
Behind that pouting is someone not just open to possibility, but willing to (gently) pursue it. And that is a fine thing, indeed.

Here's to that archaic power, here's to mystery and awe, and here's to beauty that takes our breath away.

That said, I'd favor a world in which you had both the love you yearn for and that sense of wonder. Just sayin'.
Dec. 18th, 2016 04:14 pm (UTC)
I feel that I've come tantalizingly close to love and rockets a couple of times this year, but that they eluded me just when I thought I had them in hand. I was talking to Abi about it after the panto last night, and she told me she though I had changed a lot in the past year, becoming more open and transparent, and that this would eventually win me what I want. However, single status has been a stubbornly persistent feature of my life, and I always come back around to the idea that I must value solitude and a sense of wonder more than a romantic connection. But who knows, maybe I can follow my confusion into a combination of the things I yearn for. Love in the time of Cancer, to paraphrase Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Dec. 18th, 2016 12:22 am (UTC)
Fly Me to the Moon
Beautiful phoots (as Claire would put it). That image of the moon just pulls on you.

You keep searching for the ordinary and finding the sublime instead. I don't know how you do it, but it's an amazing journey. I hope you can find both.
Dec. 18th, 2016 04:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Fly Me to the Moon
I feel that phoots is a term that Mike Meara uses as well. I'm a big fan of the sublime, it's true. That's my form of thrill-seeking.
Dec. 18th, 2016 08:14 am (UTC)
What an awesome sight, even in a photograph.

What's the closest to this I've ever seen in person? Probably the Milky Way, laid out in all its splendor, in the clear thin ocean air from the top of Kilauea.

Regarding that other matter, I eventually learned to recognize and discount those unwarranted incipient one-way feelings arising within myself. It's just hormones, I told them. Fnck it.
Dec. 18th, 2016 04:32 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure my hormones are so easily quelled, but it can't hurt to remind them that in this case they aren't wanted.

The first time I saw the full Milky Way is stamped on my memory. My sister was teaching ranch kids out in far southeast Oregon near the town of Fields, population 6. She drove me out there once when I was around fourteen, and we stopped along the way to look up at the stars. Talk about having your breath taken away!
Dec. 18th, 2016 10:51 am (UTC)

Love love love the photos. They give me shivers, the good kind.

Dec. 18th, 2016 04:33 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad that the photos communicate at least some of the thrill I felt at the sight, although if I was shivering, it could have been the freezing temperatures too. I'm not sure that I've ever seen frozen sand before.
Dec. 19th, 2016 10:46 am (UTC)
"Phoots" is an InTheBar thing, Randy. And I love yours.

Pat C
Dec. 19th, 2016 04:06 pm (UTC)
Re: Phoots
Thanks, Pat. Good to hear from you, and I hope you're doing well.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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