I am back where I am from, if that makes sense. I am back where I come from. And it is sunny out side, and Chris is driving, and we are driving through Mt. Vernon, and I want to show Chris my hometown skills. Not that I am from Mt Vernon, but I know Mt Vernon. I know secret roads and secret places, I know short cuts… and we are moving at a fast rate of speed, we are moving like gazelle through Mt. Vernon, and the images the history are coming back to me. The time I skipped school and got on the ferry with Lance Jewett, who happened to be Jewish, so in my mind, every time someone said his name, I was thinking of the Nike slogan with a twist… "Just Jew It!" and I remember the argument I had with my mother about leaving, I said, "I am going and there is nothing you can do to stop me." and I don’t know why it was such a big deal for me to go off island, to go Mt. Vernon with Jonas Haskins and Lance Jewett. We just wanted to skate. And I remember hurting my mom when I left and how it felt good to hurt my mom. I felt power in the way I could hurt my mom. Maybe because when I was younger and the things she did, and how I had no power, no control over what she did. I was helpless…. And we are driving through Mt. Vernon. Chris, Gavin and I… and I am going to show them a short cut, but I can’t remember which road it is, all the roads look the same, and given the ten years since I was home last, everything is different. The landscape is twisting and turning and evolving like mold or cancer… urban sprawl… and everything is different, yet some of the things are the same. And I miss the turn, and look like I don’t know where I come from, so I immediately start making excuses.
-It has been ten years since I’ve been here.
-Things have changed.
-Everything is different.
As we move towards my history, and up Interstate five, I-5. Passing the Mt. Vernon smokestack. The one with the giant tulip painted on the side. Mt. Vernon is the world’s largest tulip exporter next to Holland. They have a tulip festival, and a Tulip run. Imagine that, a marathon running through all that color, an explosion of red and yellow, and purple and all the other colors that mad twisted botanists brewed up… and I hear they have black tulips now. How does this information get into my head? I have never looked at a tulip, or held one in my hand, let alone purchase one.
We are passing the pantry café. Do you remember that place, how could I forget that place, but it has a different name now, it is the valley café now. Why would they change the name? And I remember the big plates of hash browns. The hash browns alone were more than one could eat, let alone the eggs and sausage and toast and coffee. And I get out my camera, look around. I should be taking pictures of this, I need to take this is and come back to it at a later date, come back to it when I am not as excited. Come back to it neutral and objective with out an emotion. We pass and train, and I take a picture. Why the hell did I just take a picture of a train? And now I want to take a picture of the Anacortes bridge and the oil tanker that is anchored have in the distance. You can see chunks of the San Juan Islands poking their heads out. There is the Indian casino in the right. I want to take a picture of that. Do you remember the fire works? We would come here to get fire works. The Indians were allowed to sell us M-80’s. We are on the bridge and I am holding my breath, Gavin is holding his breath. This is what you do when going over a bridge, or into a tunnel. You hold your breath. And I know Gavin will never make it, and he knows he will never make; yet he tries to act like he is holding his breath, but you can see his nostrils flaring and he is acting like he is holding his breath, tapping on the seat with a look of agony. And we are over the bridge, a threshold, and a landmark in my history. There is an explosion of Gavin and his lungs, followed by a long deep breath… "God that was hard!" he declares.
"You didn’t hold your breath, I could see your nostrils moving, and your chest moving."
"I did too." And Chris is chuckling to himself. Every time there is something father son like, Chris is chuckling to himself. He thinks this sort of thing is funny, he thinks Gavin is funny. Chris likes to toy with Gavin, taking advantage of this child intellect. He tells him stories of drowning, and grizzly bears, he tells Gavin that he will throw him in the frigid cold water, and that Gavin will drown. His limbs will freeze up and he will sink to the bottom and drown, and weeks later he will wash up on shore… and eventually a grizzly bear will be combing the beach looking for crabs to eat will find Gavin, and then eat him… and of course weeks later the grizzly bear will shit him out… Gavin will be reduced to bear shit… these are the things that Chris puts into my son’s head. This is how Chris entertains himself when hanging out with Gavin. But Gavin doesn’t believe any of it. He does believe however that Chris will throw him in the ocean. And this scares him. The cold water scares him… and Gavin begins to argue with Chris, and Chris will draw it out, Chris will argue with Gavin for the fun of it, they will argue forever, they will argue until I stop it. "Stop it!" I say. And they stop, then Chris says, "I love you Gavin, Gavin my little puppet."
We are pulling into Anacortes. It is steel looking town. It is a dull looking town. Nothing but concrete, Anacortes is just something that we have to pass through in order to get home. Every islander looks upon Anacortes as if it were a road block, an inconvenience, yet a good place to purchase gas before getting on the ferry, because the prices of gas on the island are ridiculous. But we have a ferry to catch. We are running late. I still have the camera in my hand.
"54 fucking dollars!" Chris is a little upset at the cost of ferry travel. But never the less we drive down and park the truck in the appropriate lane. And I am scared to get out of the vehicle. I am scared to see all the people I might know. To be forced into some sort of small talk situation with someone I don’t care about, let alone feel like rehashing the last ten years of my life. I don’t want to see people, to talk to them and since Chris is upset about the price of ferry travel, I offer to get him a beer at the near by Charlie’s restaurant.
And this worries Gavin. "Dad, you remember what happened last time we came here?" and I have to explain to Chris what happened the last time we came, how we thought (Andy, Gavin and me) that we could just come up here and get a quick bit to eat while waiting for the ferry to come. There were problems with the ferries that day. And there was one pulling in and one leaving, but we were told that they would be loading for other islands, not our island. So we ordered lunch. We were looking at least an hour. Then over the parking lot loud speaker, "now loading for Friday Harbor" and we hadn’t even got or food yet. We haven’t even paid for a food yet. And Andy had to write a check, and we had two different cars to drive onto the ferry. "Just go." She said, "I will stay here and pay, then met you on the ferry. So Gavin and I ran down to the car and drove onto the ferry… while Andy stayed to pay. But Andy didn’t like to run, especially across a giant parking lot filled with people, she thought it looked faggy, and her boobs are sort of big, and to run across an giant parking lot filled with people looking at her boobs bounce was not what she had in mind. So Gavin and I got onto the ferry, parked the car, and went topside to look out and see if Andy would make it. We could she her, she was two cars away from getting on, but the ferry was full. The guys down below is were squeezing the cars, on… making it as tight as possible, "do you think my mom will make it?" Gavin asked. "Of course she will, there is plenty of space," we then saw one of the orange colored vest wearing ferry workers give a signal… two more cars. And she started to come down. She was getting on, but the was an error, she wasn’t supposed to come down, and they turned her around. And the ferry pulled away leaving Andy behind. And Gavin, only 4 years old at the time cried into my arms, and I had to explain to him that she would be on the next ferry. And I had to buy him an ice cream to calm him down… and once I gave him the ice cream, he didn’t give a shit about his mom.
This is my plan for Chris. I will buy him a beer and he won’t give a shit about he 54 dollars her just blew to get his truck onto the ferry. This is my plan. It is sunny out, I am going home, I should be taking pictures, and I need to be taking this in, I am supposed to be feeling something more. I have my camera in my hand, but I am doing nothing with it… and the beers come. They are giant beers. Huge beers. Beers you could jump into and swim around. I love these beers. And soon we are lost in the beer waiting for the ferry to come. Waiting for the turtle like crawl of the ferry to take us away, to pick us up and put us smack down in the middle of my history. The place where I come from, and over the intercom I hear.
"Now loading foot passengers for Friday Harbor Washington…."