Sunday, September 4, 2011

Freeloading at 49

Last week, Aine called me from the backseat of the Beaver she’s been flying for  a fishing lodge in Southwest Alaska.   She’d seen the news of my teaching placement and wanted to catch up while we both had the chance.   When Aine mentioned that she now has two pickup trucks filled with Rubbermaid tubs (one in Alaska and one in California), I knew I was not alone in my fondness of the discrete storage containers that have been a steadfast presence in my life in many ways over the past 20 years.  
  There are lots of folks who can’t understand the predilection to roam.  I know there is a tribe that feel the need to store the belongings in discrete storage containers and spread our energy around wild places like bees pollinating the flora.

I n the final week before I left my house, had a dream of walking upstream of a creek in the woods.  In the middle of the water were a series of Rubbermaid tub lids floating downstream.  “Terrific!”, my dream self said,” I have a bunch of lidless bins.  I should go get some.“    I found the source of the lids emerging from the source of the spring.  And as I stepped into the water to retrieve one, I slipped and fell into the creek.

In that moment, I was  shocked and scared, fighting the cold hard fast current of Alaskan water.   I tried swimming to shore, then realized that I was drunk and unable to move my limbs against the forces of nature.   The water was so fast, rocks and limbs moving by too quickly and I lost the opportunities.  As I began to drown, I woke up in a panic.  Heart racing.  What happened?  What did it mean?   And why tub lids?   Perhaps I was looking to complete the container and  quell the anxieties of uncertainty over my next landing spot.

One of the tools of a successful transient life is maintaining and enhancing relationships.  When extended, an invitation can create a safe space and a harbor in the open sea.   There have been many friends along the way who have supported me, in small ways, along the journeys.

The month I spend in Bozeman Montana, swimming laps , knitting rows and teaching Laura knitting while I waited for the ski area to open up and try to find a job.  When  that plan didn’t manifest, I went onto  an interview in Clark, Colorado and experienced a rollover car wreck  in the ultimate survivor.   Barb came to pick up the stuff from the vehicle--the detritus of dashboard living and the small bevy of tubs--   so I could take the bus back to Boulder the following day.  The next morning, the mechanic at the yard offhandedly mentioned that he thought I should at least see if it started.  And it did, so I drove it across Steamboat Pass  back to Boulder.

That led me to Carrie’s Tin Casa at the Mapleton Mobile Home Park, where I spend many glorious interim short visits between Alaska, and West Texas.   At Carrie’s,   there were mornings when I woke after a deep sleep ensconced in a very snug upper small bunk in “the train room”  and wondered if I was living another life.  Some times in the early morning, I lost the compartments of what was waking life and what was dream life

When I left the house in Spenard, I moved over Gwen’s to dogsit  Miss Lilly.   On a morning walk through the neighborhood and down the creek, I crossed a bridge.  There, in the middle of Chester Creek, was a faded blue Rubbermaid tub lid wedged up against a branch.   I was not drowning!  I chortled a bit to myself. Lilly looked at me expectantly. I made myself at home at Gwens. I did a little weeding.

Last week, I moved from Gwen’s house to Holly’s to look after her dog Bowie.  The belongings, rapidly diminishing with each move, now fit into fewer tubs.   It was a smooth transition, now practiced.   I am ready to dream.  I can fit a small tub into the duffle bag going to Thailand, but the lid won’t match.

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