Kevin’s birthday I do…

Kevin's birthday

I do not think I know how to capture the way I feel right now. The best way I can think to attempt it is to start at the beginning.

On Thursday, I woke up to an alarm at five, exhausted. I had so much work to do, and because my old friend Alex had unexpectedly arrived in town, wanting to go camping, I kew I wouldn't have time enough. Lately, I have been feeling that there is never time enough, that I am not able enough to do everything I ought to be able to do, or at least not as well as it should be done. Don't ask me where my expectations come from.

So I got up and worked, getting as much done as I could, packing up, taught two classes and took one for which I was barely prepared. Felt ill and feverish, but I couldn't disappoint Alex after he'd flown out. Besides, I would probably be fine once I got some sleep.

I dozed in the car, but mostly we talked, of inconsequential things. It was just that kind of ride, and besides, we'd had a long, serious conversation about our lives, on the phone, less than two weeks before. Five hours to Zion and now I felt pretty bad. But we got a campsite and I set up my beloved tent, and we went out for dinner because I just couldn't cope with cold sandwiches. I was so exhausted, but trying not to show it because I didn't want to ruin Alex's vacation.

We rode the shuttle up to the lodge, me falling asleep on his shoulder, when suddenly the driver slowed down -- she'd spotted a coyote. A coyote! We watched the small grey creature for a while; it seemed utterly fearless, yet still wild. Eventually it moved on, and we did too.

I got very chilled over dinner until Alex made me order tea -- that helped, and the food was delicious and comforting. Afterwards I got chilled again; we had to walk through light drizzle to the shuttle stop and I was wearing a thin shirt, but Alex rubbed my arms until they warmed a little and we sat on the ground and sang songs we'd each written until the shuttle arrived, so being cold was okay. I could handle it.

We got back to camp and tumbled into bed. It was so nice being in my tent with an old friend, the kind of friend who dated you once and now knows you so well that you can say or do almost anything. We talked a little and then fell asleep. It was a little cramped in my tiny tent, but I woke up happy.

That morning we fired up the Coleman and made tea; oddly and immensely satisfying. We ate some fruit and bread and then set out on a moderately strenuous trail, up to the upper emerald pool with only a few complaints. It was lovely. Most visitors only went to the middle pool, so there were just a few of us, very quiet at the upper pool, which stretched clear and clean at the base of an immense cliff. I was parched for the sight of water.

Then back down by way of middle and lower pools, a few waterfalls. A shuttle ride to another trail, lunch of bread and cheddar and tomatoes. A mild trail to weeping rock, an overhang which constantly dripped water from the sandstone, so that even in the desert climate, the wall was covered with small plants and lichen. We missed the flowering season, but still. I put my hand on the wall and got it thoroughly muddy (they encouraged touching the wall) and then held it out to rinse under the dripping water.

I was tired then, and while Alex took on a massive hike, I went back to camp. I slept for two hours, then woke and read Fanon's _The Wretched of the Earth_ for class, plus Achebe's criticism of Conrad's _Heart of Darkness_, and two short stories to be critiqued on Monday. I made more tea around four, drank it while writing this, with the sun shafting down through the trees and a light breeze blowing, with my muscles just slightly sore and my body pleasantly used, but also rested. And even the discovery that the batteries on my Visor had somehow died and I had lost everything I'd written before (not so much, don't worry), even the fact that it meant that I couldn't use the keyboard and had to tip-tap all of these letters in one-by-one with the stylus...even with that, I was okay. I was good.

I left for this trip rather suddenly, I know. Just before I left, Chip sent me e-mail asking if I was taking an "Esthely Blue" break. I thought then that he had misunderstood -- I was just obliging a friend, doing what I needed to do to spend time with him. I thought that I really wanted to stay and finish working, that I didn't have the time to take a break.

Chip was right.

I feel better.

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