It’s night and it’s hard to tell that we have arrived in Washington. It’s cold and damp for sure, but this runway could be anywhere. Crosswords and cribbage boards distracted my mind on the plane. I have forgotten we were traveling. I don’t realize we are in Washington until the next morning. I think it’s very early when I open my eyes because it’s still dark outside, but when I look at the alarm clock it reads 9am. Rising, I gaze out the window and am amazed by the black-eyed clouds. The way I gawk at the clouds it’s as if I haven’t lived in Port Townsend for my entire life. I’m like a tourist at the “Depressing Winter Weather” exhibit. Perhaps I’m really from California or Florida, because I would pay twice to see clouds like this. I literally stare for minutes, check the clock again, check other clocks to make sure the time is correct, return to the window and continue staring. Now I realize I’m in Washington.
I guess the Colorado sunshine has made me soft. A month of clear winter mornings must have burned through decades of rainy, sleety, windy, purple clouds. My years of Northwest experience are worthless now. I’m like a deciduous tree among evergreens. I’m like a sponge instead of a rock. I’m like an orange farmer in Alaska. I mean it is fucking cold in Washington. This damp, penetrating shit is terrible. Sure, the mercury in Colorado was always lower than it is here, but it’s a dry cold down there. It doesn’t seep to your bones and nearly drown you. Here I feel like I’m swimming when I take a walk, which I do after bundling up with ten different layers. I must keep moving and I must have some destination. Who takes a walk for pleasure in this sort of thing?
Running is better because your core remains warm, but it’s difficult when the roads and trails are covered in sleet. It’s basically like running on a treadmill: I churn my legs faster and faster but ultimately go nowhere. Drivers honk their horns and wave as if to say, “Good for you, getting out for a run on a morning like this.” I politely wave back and follow the tire tracks that their cars have left in the road. If I can find clean pavement I might actually use some of my energy for running instead of balancing. Imagine that.
Eventually, I make it to North Beach, where I get the first ocean view I have had in a month. The waves are the same color as the sky—deep, dense gray—but the sight is stirring nonetheless. This water is so much different than river water; it is so heavy, so infinitely strong, yet so thoughtful too. The ocean is like a sweet and lumbering giant that you don’t want to piss off. It has been too long since I felt the ocean beneath the keel of a boat. I imagine sailing in this stormy weather, imagine the spray flying over my head and the pull of the tiller in my hand. I begin to remember my roots. The decades of rain, sleet, wind and gray return to my body and my psyche. It feels like picking up a shield. The clouds no longer seem so ominous. In fact, the clouds seem just right.
I stick my tongue out and taste the misty rain as I run through the Chinese Gardens. I’m such a little kid.