Monday, November 16, 2009
Giants, of sorts
Things that have happened in the past few weeks, in no specific order:
Two British men completed a five-month voyage from Japan to San Francisco. They rowed. As in, the two of them sat in a tiny shell, took turns rowing two hours on, two hours off, and together they crossed the Atlantic.
They shuffled beneath the Golden Gate bridge on Friday, November 13. I crossed the same bridge later that evening, just as the sun was beginning to set. I, too, was once rowed port, and sometimes calluses still surface, years later. These middle-aged men apparently had trouble staying on their legs once they docked, having spent nearly half the year seated in a boat. To think of the animals they must have seen, the zigzag of currents, passing liners and cruise ships, not to mention the slight possibility of pirates--there are few stories more remarkable.
A sadder story, also last week: The first fatality on the still-under-construction Bay Bridge. A 50-something Hayward truck driver took the new S-curve ten miles too fast and barreled over, crashing 200 feet to Yerba Buena Island below. He was transporting pears. I can't help wondering what that must have sounded like, and what pattern the fruit made as they hit the asphalt.
Saturday was World Diabetes Day. My parents went to Sacramento, where the State Capitol was lit up in blue. There is a strange comfort in knowing that the intricacies of diabetic life can now be recognized in a single color. As if by giving it a color, we are assigning it some manageable potential. I wonder how politicized the color choice was; if, by giving ourselves a ribbon, we are adopting our own font, a marketable campaign, a battle plan.
And that's fine--battle plans are fine by me. The silver lining of living with a chronic condition is knowing that, at any given moment, I can rejoin the campaign. It'll still be there for me when I have money to donate, or time to spare. The sucky times are evenings like one last week, when I excused myself from drinks with friends to run a lap around a block downtown. Because sometimes our bodies do these things. Make us blue.
But perhaps the best part of the last few weeks: Muir Woods on a Sunday afternoon. My aunt lives in Marin County, and invited us out to house-sit while she was away. Muir Woods National Monument is a short jaunt from San Rafael, a surprising glimpse of insane coastal greenery. Walking amongst those trees, whose height and age already eclipsed my own a hundred times over, I felt all the blues shrink down. I had never noticed how multiple trees can grow quite seamlessly out of the trunk of an old redwood. The light was dappled in the way that it should be, little circles of yellow making patterns on the forest floor.
Sometimes we need more giants in our lives to remind us just how small we are. Or how the Atlantic can't be that big. That shit happens. Stories multiply; we just have to be awake enough to witness them happen.