Monday, January 8, 2007

License to Rant


I am standing inside the grey walled building of the Washington DOL (department of licensing) looking out the window at the slightly darker grey skies of Everett, and a tight lipped man in a white turtleneck is taking my picture. “Okay, Californie girl, smile! He says, as he leers at me “Or not.”
He hands me a grey card as a temporary Washington drivers license, All right then, so this is it. I am now an official resident of the great state of Washington. I feel strange, as if I am betraying something, though I’m not sure what. As if I am renouncing my own familiar and loyal state in favor of this one, which I hardly know at all.
My California license is handed back to me with a large hole punched through it that renders it null and void. It is like my heart, I think. The something that is missing. The part of me that hasn’t quite arrived yet, that is stretched out in a hammock somewhere on a beach in Mexico, sipping margaritas. The rest of me is here, of course, bundled up and barely recognizable as a human form, watching the street signs bend with the force of the biting wind outside as it prepares itself for yet another storm. It seems that while the rest of the country is luxuriating in the romantic warmth of El Nino, we are experiencing what is fondly known by the local weather persons by the far less exotic term of “Arctic Push.” Everyone tells me that the weather has never been so extreme, that this is a fluke, and I have to believe them, because I so want it to be true.


We take the ferry back to the island and it rocks and heaves over the white capped Sound. All night long the wind moans and howls, breaking off 100 foot trees at their trunks, sending branches flying through the air. In the middle of the night one of them falls onto a nearby power line, and our cozy electric heater abruptly stops humming. As I feel the temperature begin to drop one degree at a time, I lay awake fretting over our freshly stocked freezer. It had taken a ferry ride and several missed freeway exits and wrong turns to finally locate the oasis of Trader Joe’s, and now it seems that all of our precious and hard earned booty is poised for spoilage.
By morning the roads are littered with the leafy carnage of branches and fallen trees, like some arboreal war zone. The grind and whine of chain saws and generators fills the eerily still air as we wander out into the day, shivering and and yearning for the simple pleasures of hot showers and coffee.

Winter continues to chip away at my comfort zone. My bucolic fantasies have now perished in the face of unexpected inconveniences. Sometimes I want to shake my clenched fist at those intimidating mountains and rant. Don’t you arctic push me, you goddamned white capped turtlenecked rainsoaked sonsofbitches. Hey! Don’t you know who I am???
But of course they do. I am merely a small and very temporary resident of this wild and ancient earth.

3 comments:

Dotty Stripes said...

Wonderful writing.Burrrrr!

Steve said...

You need to embrace that beautiful mountain and "chill." Ok, wrong word. I think you're going through the California withdraws - I did the same. And you're coming during a very turbulent winter season. It will pass and you'll learn to appreciate the beauty of the changes that Ma Nature throws your way! Plus the summers are devine.

Welcome to our wonderful world of Washington!

mark of the north said...

Arctic push...or Arctic shove?