Thursday, May 26, 2005

Wow--what a week in Washington (and what a lame use of alliteration!) It was an amazing trip--emotional, intense, exhausting, heart filling. We spent 40 hours on the train, seated behind a guy with Tourette's (who would suddenly yell "Hello!" and "Jesus Christ!" and "Where am I?" at consistent, but always-surprising, intervals) and near a man with sleep apnea who choked and moaned twice a minute for most of the night. The emergency brakes had to be pulled because a car had flipped over on the tracks (amazingly, no one was hurt) and the train had to be inspected for a couple of hours afterwards. Writing this, it sounds like a pretty torturous experience, but it was fairly glorious. Especially the scenery. We fell asleep to Central CA farmland and woke up to foresty mountains and waterfalls. We saw dolphins and llamas and bald eagles and some impressive grafitti through the windows. We sang with strangers. We ate a lot of bad food. I even got some writing done.

Spending time with my family in Port Townsend was so beautiful. My cousins had rented out a bunch of former officer's quarters at Fort Worden (which has since become a state park and conference/arts center), so it was like living in a charming neighborhood full of relatives--we filled up a whole row of Victorian duplexes. My sister named it Branskyville (Bransky is our family name; my father changed his last name to Brandeis during the McCarthy era.) We walked through the old mossy battlements (which were full of spooky tunnels and dark staircases) and breathed in the clean cold air of the forest and saw more bald eagles and marvelled at how nature had overtaken the military zone. Then we stumbled upon Copper Canyon Press, one of my very favorite poetry presses. I had no idea that it was located at Fort Worden, so this was a fabulous surprise. Poets Against the War started there (which I think gives it even more poetic justice, growing as it did from a former army base!)

Mimi's memorial and the wedding were each utterly beautiful and magical in their own ways. The weather cooperated, giving us rainbows and miraculous moments of sun when we thought we'd be mired in storm. And an eagle soared across the wedding site right after the sun broke through the clouds.

Visiting Matt's family on Whidbey Island was fabulous, too. What a gorgeous part of the world (we saw even more bald eagles!) My son came down with a fever of 104 on Monday, so our last few days there were fairly low key, but that was okay--just being together was wonderful. Arin's fever has gone down, but he's still wiped out. All of us are wiped out. Today has been a catch-up-on-work-and-sleep kind of day.

It was hard to come back to heat and smog--my lungs are already rebelling; they miss that delicious air--but it feels good to be home.

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