Saturday, November 17, 2012
Leaving Montana: Sliding Into Life
I downed a cup of strong java with girlfriend Ronny, taking advantage of the Starbuck's card Hope had given me for my birthday. Ronny insisted I buy something to eat. Appetite is the first thing to go when I'm stressed or sad, and I was both on this day... leaving the wild place that had fed my spirit for over a year and the special friendship with Jon. I chose a piece of lemon pound cake but couldn't bring myself to eat it. It stayed in the paper sack and landed on the front seat of my truck as I headed for Costco to get a Smart Phone. It was time. I was on the road again and the phone I had was over five years old.
Mike the salesman was awesome as he helped me through my decisions of which phone was best for me. I was amazed to find that the little phone would be a GPS and a mobile hot spot for my computer as well as allow me to check email from the road. He started talking about different modes the phone has. My Hutterite-self asked him to explain. You can set your phone to do specific things in different modes, he said. Like a bedside mode. I smiled and asked if there was a vibrator app for the bedside mode? He burst out laughing. I'm pretty sure this is the reason he rushed to the ATM machine when we were done to withdraw cash to buy my book.
Everything went smoothly the first day until the wire that connects the truck to the trailer and provides my signal and brake lights loosened, dragged on the road and was worn raw. I had no lights when I came out of Costco at sundown. I drove to Ronny and Doug's where they fed me a delicious quinoa and salad. We watched a movie, my first in over a year, before I laid my exhausted-self into to their comfy farmhouse bedroom. The next morning Doug spliced the wires back together and I was good to go.
I headed down the east side of Flathead Lake to Polson, continued south past Missoula and was almost to Butte as the sun disappeared behind the mountains. I didn't have a stopping plan. This is when I saw an exit sign that said, "Fairmont Hot Springs." I turned onto the ramp. I hadn't heard of Fairmont; didn't know if it was open, but it was only two miles. I noticed a snowed-in, closed campground at the outskirts of the small town; a half mile later was the plush, resort hot springs. I parked La Perla and went inside to find out it was $150 for a room. I was going to treat myself but quickly decided to opt for the trailer. And no, said the clerk, I couldn't stay in La Perla in their parking lot. I drove back to the campground so see one lonesome trailer like mine with a porch light. A woman wrapped in a ski parka sat at the picnic table and talked on the phone.
"You're alone, too?" she asked. She was part of a group who were working with "the crazies" at Warm Springs, she explained. But she didn't like motels or their food so she'd arranged to stay at the campground. Nothing was plowed. I put the truck in 4-wheel drive and broke through the six inches of crusty snow, hooked up to electric and hightailed it back to the hot springs.
Senior rate was $4.75 and the young clerk didn't even ask me my age. C'mon... humor me, I thought. The water was sublime: a large indoor pool and steamy outdoor ones with a 4-story water slide that kept catching my eye. My soul, really. I climbed up the stairs and stared into the dark tube. I took a deep breath and sat down in the womb-warm water. It's a new life, Christina, here you go... your birth canal.
I pushed off into several fast, tight turns as the water and steepness sped me onto the sides at exhilarating speed. I wasn't so sure I wouldn't tip sideways, but I didn't as I traveled round and round through wet darkness. I entered a straightaway and BOOM, simultaneous open air and SPLASH, the great emptying. WHOO-eeee., I screamed to an empty nighttime pool.
I arrived at the truck, suddenly famished. Then I remembered it! That day-old pound cake turned out to be the most delicious ever. When Ronny cajoled me into getting it she had called it my birthday cake. Little did we know. I chewed away as I looked up to see the new moon crescent setting behind the mountains. She, too, birthed anew.