july 18

the brothers road trip

my brother turned seventeen a few days ago, an age recognized as one of change and growth and learning potential. i guess tacking down the number of years is less important than seeing that there are certain times in the human lifespan when maybe the spirit is closer to the surface, where it can feel the wind of the world.

i know my 17th summer taught me alot, mostly about who i am, who everyone else is, all in tiny indistinguishable moves. i'd be lying if i didn't say that i was hoping to show mike something about the world, or at least give him the chance to find it himself.

so he flew out the day before his birthday and we drove to my apartment, thru sf and talking about what he'd been up to, his job making sandwiches and the books he's been reading. it was good to just catch up on the little things. he talked so much that after a while he was running out of breath and i kinda giggled to myself. he remembered the smallest details of steven king plots, and he wanted to tell me about it all.

i told him i figured we'd go north instead of south, up into the woods and oregon. we saw crater lake on the map and it wasn't far out of the way, so he'd see it for the first time and me for the second, after last summer. i told him that the fun is just seeing where you end up, that i had a vague plan and not much commitment on the other end, so we could do what came to us.

so on the 15th we got in the car before everyone else was awake and weaved our way up the coast and thru the redwoods on 1 and 101. we stopped at a beach littered with big driftwood peices like washed-up oddities from a foriegn shore or old men that had stared into the waves for too long and frozen there.

most of the coast around eureka was covered in cold fog so we went north to where the thick fog was still out at sea and we could see a muffled sunset. i'd forgotten the tent so we decided we'd sleep in the car at clam beach state park. there were a whole bunch of other trucks that had driven onto the beach and already had fires going. before the sun went all the way down mike and i gathered some driftwood and piled it up about a hundred yards from the rest of the funky lookin vagabonds. there was one fire further out towards the water, a man and his son from redding who let us trade a branch for a smoldering board. we got our fire blazing and it burned hot cuz of the wind, and we talked about his life, the kinda things you talk about around a campfire in the dark. the sand was so fine it was like crystals of smoke when it fell out of your closed hand. the beach was like the ashes of a million fires.

aparently my little brother knows i'm not a virgin, which is kinda funny. my mom told him, cuz i'd always been open with her and it was her time to tell mike he could be too. i did feel a little weird... i'd always thought i would let him in on that part of my past, some part of the older brother experiences, but at least now i know he's not afraid to ask me stuff.

we ate breakfast in an old whaling village called trinidad, pretty high class food for such a small town, then continued north into the old redwood forest. at one point we pulled off the avenue of the giants, and it felt like the same exact place we'd stopped years ago, when we'd driven the west coast and then flown to alaska. i couldn't find the redwood with the gently spreading base, but we did get down on a path and find the biggest one there, one with nothing carved in it. i put my hands to it and i felt connected to everything straight up in the sky and straight down where the roots touched and further. the tree was so solid that it barely let on that it knew i was there, i could lean on it and it wouldn't have to move. everything was so quiet (when no cars were passing) and dark green, so rich for such an open forest floor. it felt dense without being so, like a morning dream or good tea.

while i was driving all i could think of was how much i'd love to travel with someone who breathed poetry and romance like it was natural. i would ask "where do you think that river has been?" thru the mind of a sage and out the other side. "what sits in the very tops of those trees?" the dreams of children.

by late afternoon we did make it to crater lake, sledded on mike's camping chair and peered into the blue blue water. the last time i was here was with leslie and fire on the way to portland, and we took our time and blew our bubbles, ate grapes and took pictures under the blue sky that must never leave this enchanted place. the afternoon was so quiet that you could hear the whisper of a soaring bird's wings or the passing of centuries in the wind.

a few days before the trip i'd gotten a letter from leslie inviting me up to visit her at the field school we'd both been at last summer. i figured that i could suprise her, if i could find her, since they were at a secondary camp in a tiny town named lincoln so small it's not on the map. i'd driven there before, somewhere along rt. 66, and eventually i did come upon the familiar porch and bend in the road.

when she saw me she gave me what felt like the biggest hug i'd ever had, it smoothed out the jagged edges of fear and did some sort of magic to me that all the world seemed just about right. she told me i smelled like me. i asked her about her trip to tailand and we reminisced about the past summer, caught up on gossip and just shared the old fun again. all in all seeing her again was good... we'd left on confused terms and hadn't communicated in half a year. we ended up sitting on a couch, shielding our eyes from the sun and laughing at the sand falling out of our sandals. it was almost as if the year between summers had been a daydream.

mike and i stayed for a day and did some survey work, showed him some of the basics of archeological work like filling out forms and tromping thru beautiful countryside, ate lunch by a stream and played with ideas of skinny dipping while the professor was away. the air was sweet in the way a field of tall golden grass and dust and ponerosa pine would make it. mike made friends with jim, the toothless cook with wild long grey blonde hair and stories to charm an open pair of ears, kinda like mine a year ago. i just took it in while i could, the confluence of three rivers of time, past present and future, the sun and the stars, the joy, the fear, and the hope that keeps you going.

07.11 | july | 07.19