Thursday, August 16, 2012

On the Boundary, Part III

I'm going to WashJam tomorrow, so today was busy.  I packed.  I helped Nick pack, walked the dog, shopped for more food, dehydrated black olives, made Hudson Bay bread, and baked three individual apple pies.

In all that, Seth decided he wasn't getting enough attention and knocked over our torch lamp.  I loved that lamp.  They don't make them the way they used to.  They don't make anything the way they used to.  We've had trouble even getting a can opener that works.  It's always that feeling that I have my act together that gets in my way and then these little things pop up.  I had to vacuum at 1:30am.  Nobody normal vacuums at 1:30am, except when there's broken glass all over and they have pets walking around.  I have yet to let Seth out of his kennel.  I'm still mad at him, still wondering if he'll get a shard of glass stuck in his paw by wandering around the scene of the crime.

So, I was going to tell you about my shameful behavior in Minnesota on our canoe trip.  See, Suzanne's boyfriend Nathan had made himself sick by not drinking enough water.  We were having to race other groups for campsites and we were missing one after another because Nathan and Suzanne couldn't keep up.  We were all struggling to drink enough water in the heat and exertion.  There were too many portages, little ones, but the frequency of having to load and unload the boat was exhausting.  We were all under stress and then Nathan started to get sick.  He seemed like a hypochondriac, to me.  I wasn't sure if I believed him when he said he was dizzy and nauseated.  I suspect he was constipated too.  He wasn't eating much.  Or maybe he was just being picky.  I wasn't sure.  I know it's easy to get angry with someone who's not doing what they need to take care of themselves.  Nathan had a tendency to whine to Suzanne.  It's a wonder she married him after that, but I'm not sure why she didn't get mad at us.  Suzanne is definitely not a whiner, but she was in love with this guy and held his hand as he sat miserably on a rock by the lake on the third night of the trip.

The shame of it is that Wynne started picking on Nathan.  As if that would fix things and make him drink more water.  He refused.  In fact, he dug in his heels when she started in calling him a wimp.  There comes a moment, usually after an event like this, when I wake up at four in the morning and I can see the truth of the matter.  I didn't see it while I was in it.

Oh Lord, my pies are done and I just can't afford to stay up much later, so I'm going to make this quick.  I'm not proud either.  If I write it quickly, it'll be like ripping the stuck Bandaid off the furry part of your arm.

Imagine being on a trip that's much more challenging than you imagined.  Except for your girlfriend, you're among strangers. Imagine that the water tastes murky and you don't trust the water filter these people have brought, especially since they taught you about a parasite called Giardia.  Lovely.  Rodents are getting into the food.  It's disgusting.  Then, except for one person, they start picking on you because you feel sick and didn't get a chance to train for this challenge.  One of them calls you a wimp in front of your girlfriend.  In truth, you feel sick enough that you whine, but you don't care.  You just want to get away from them, get to a hotel where you can have a tall glass of iced tea, where you won't be a wimp any more, where the beds are comfortable and the air conditioning works.  It would be beautiful exploring in this country with your girlfriend if you were staying in a hotel.  You just don't want to say anything to anyone, but you're constipated, really constipated.  You can't eat because of it. 

Yup, I can see all that now, but at the time, I was just mad.

The one who didn't pick on Nathan was Mike, the only one.  I like to blame group dynamics, but I remember my frustration that all this man had to do was take a drink, a damn drink of water.  The solution was so simple and I really didn't like that he sabotaged our whole trip.  I may not have called Nathan names, but I was complicit in bullying him.  I tried to push him too.  I was derisive, and demeaning.  It was not a night I was proud of being myself.  I was capable of this. 

In the morning, Suzanne got up when the rest of the groups started making breakfast.  Nathan stayed in the tent.  She announced that they were going back to where we put the boats into the water, that they'd return their broken canoe and pay for it if they needed to.  Mike decided that we were going to ignore our permits and escort them back before rerouting the trip and going on.  We bullies were quiet then.  I began to see myself in the new light of events.  If I had lived in Nazi Germany, I wondered, would I have gone along with all the abductions of the Jews, with their annihilation?  I was no longer confident about my nature.  I could be the bad guy. 

It's been a long road to accepting that about myself.  I'm not a particularly strong person when it comes to what is right sometimes.  Oh, I talk the good talk.  I try to live the good life, but I see that bully sometimes, even now.  I have to live with that part of myself.  It's not easy.

Thank you for listening, jb

No comments:

Post a Comment