Friday, November 16, 2012

Bananarama, Part III

Bananarama happened nearly a year after Mike and I had gone on that winter camping trip together, the one after which I dumped Asshole, the guy who called me a wimp when I had trouble holding my ski pole after breaking my thumb.  It wasn't lost on me that the entire weekend in the Adirondacks, Mike spent at the back of the pack whenever we were out skiing, encouraging the slowest member.  He was patient with me, but better than that, he was patient with everyone around him. 

He never said a word about the kids who bought so many bananas.  They knew.  They didn't need him to say anything. 

I take that back. He did say something.  We all did.  It got to be a joke, one that got us all laughing, tears streaming, with just that one word.


On Sunday morning, I woke up after sleeping through the evening and night. I felt great! Another group of us went out for another jaunt over the lakes and fields.  The sun shone like diamonds on strewn on the snow.  A breeze occasionally lifted up wisps of snow and swirled it on the snow's surface.We visited the snow caves the more intrepid of the kids had built.  They crawled in and out of them. I stuck my head in.  I liked how blue it was, but I didn't crawl in.  I'm sure I had some good excuse, but the real one, not wanting to kick out the ceiling in panic, I kept to myself.  They had decided not to sleep in them during the night, though Mike had told them they could if they wanted. I was surprised they hadn't, though it was really cold and they'd said their caves were pretty small. 

Again, Mike stayed at the back of the pack and when one of the guys had trouble with a binding, Mike figured out how to make it work until he got back to the cabin. 

When I got back, there was more hot chocolate.  No one opted for onion soup, though it sounds good right now for some reason. 

"Oh man, I have to pee and I don't want to put my duds back on to go to the outhouse," I said.  I'd learned that it was easier to actually ski to the outhouse rather than posthole with every step in the deep snow. 

"Why don't you pee off the back porch like everyone else?" Jimmy said.  What?  He led me to the back door and I stepped out into the chill.  Ew.  There were yellow spots everywhere, loop-de-loops, names, and even a tree with a stalactite dripping from its trunk. 

"Hey, guys, that's gross!" I came back inside.

"It'll melt," someone replied. 

"Does that bother you?" I asked Mike. "Isn't it going to make the cabin smell?"

"They're boys, Hon.  They do that."

"I did it too, just hung onto the post there and leaned back," Erica said with a grin.  I rolled my eyes and put on my gear for the trek up to the outhouse, the one with the stainless steel seat, the one with a tiny bit of my flesh stuck to it, though I'd scraped it with my glove the last time I'd visited.  My knuckle was still sore.  When I was done, I got a whim to run up to the van for a new wool blanket I'd picked up on sale at Campmor.  Mike had told me I'd never use the thing because it was too scratchy.  It was scratchy, but I wanted another layer on my bunk for some reason. 

When I got back, I found that Mike had gone.  Harold said he'd headed out with his pack and skis and said he'd be back in a bit.  In the meantime, I figured I'd go out again with another group that had packed up.  I was a little sad not to be with Mike, but he seemed like a lone wolf sometimes and this was his time.  That jaunt remains a melancholy one to me, though we skied in with the sunset as we finished our loop.  By then, the grooves were set and the kids picked an easy run for everyone. In the light, the snow turned a shiny peach color.  I had never noticed snow that color. 

There was something that was happening to me that kept me going out to ski, even on the day when I'd already been out.  I'd come back inside invigorated, my cheeks pink with exertion.  Those days might have been the first time I got the endorphin rush from cross country skiing.  I've loved it since, that rhythm, the swish of the snow, the long glide down a slope.  Heaven. 

Still, I was in love and it would have been better if Mike had come along.  That night, when we got in, I went into the kitchen to help with dinner.  The bananas, now relegated to a corner, were brown and bruised.  Bananarama was over.  No one would be jamming with those things.  Still, there were only three bunches left.  Not bad. Bananas have lots of potassium for replacing those electrolytes too. 

After dinner, I volunteered for KP.  Here's my secret.  When I'm cold, I volunteer to wash dishes.  It works every time. The other thing it helped me with was the watching.  We had come back at sunset.  Mike had not yet returned.  I tried not to worry.  He'd left an hour before we had and after dinner, it was an hour since we'd come back. I went to Harold and quietly asked him what he thought.

"Oh, he's probably fine.  He does this sometimes, gets a little too much and heads off on his own to unwind for a bit once he sees everyone else is good to go."  Lone wolf.  Why didn't the buddy system work the same way for leaders? I wondered.

So, I tried to read my book.  I read the same paragraph over and over until I finally gave up and stood at the window in the direction Mike had gone.  A half an hour later, coming in from complete darkness, Mike arrived, a flashlight held in one hand as he still gripped his poles.  I watched the light bob up and down as he skied. I went back to my book, arranging myself artfully on the bunk, and tried to look nonchalant.  What, me worried?

A crowd gathered as he stepped into the room and laughter erupted. I jumped up to see what it was all about.  His moustache and beard, even his eyebrows and the brim of his stocking cap, had frosted over with ice, solid chunks of ice.  I wish I had a picture of that.  He couldn't brush it off!  We all watched as it melted off of him.  A mug of hot chocolate made short work of it, but it was entertaining.  I was so relieved that I didn't want to leave Mike's side. 

That night, I felt out of sorts, so I went to bed early, snuggling down into my sleeping bag that was augmented by the wool blanket.  The morning came too soon and I awoke with a cold.  I stayed behind and packed up my gear while the rest of them took one last loop across the lakes before we packed up our cars and drove home. 

When the group got back, Mike brought my backpack up to the van for me.  I still had to ski there myself, but I managed.  Then, he wrapped me in my sleeping bag and threw the wool blanket over my shoulders and buckled me into my seat.  Before he closed the door, he handed me a smashed box of tissues he'd gotten from one of the girls. 

I felt like crap the whole way home, but I felt so deeply loved. 

 Thank you for listening, jb

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