Shifting whiteness

Posted by on May 3rd, 2023  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

I got Covid during my last week in Utah and brought it home to Sue. We both suffered through 4 bad days and nights on the couch with a lot of coughing and joint aches.

At least for us, Covid is more like a bad flu used to be. This matches what we hear from our ER nurse kids, people rarely get hospitalized anymore. It is strange to get it though, for the second time, considering all the vaccinations we’ve had.

She had to cancel and bail on her vacation to Arizona with Lisa, who ended up flying alone with Olivia to see Dan. Dan was on a one month work assignment down there.

I watched a lot of Amazon Prime movies while I was welded to the couch. One of them (Men, Women and Children) was about a bunch of interconnected teenagers and parents addicted to social media and the internet in general. Tim had quit playing football because he realized it was pointless. He had read that all of the atoms on the planet were getting constantly recycled into new forms. It’s the ‘dust to dust’ philosophy. And whether he won or lost a football game meant nothing in the grand scheme of the universe.

I got to thinking about how astrophysicists believe neutrons from outer space are constantly passing through everything on the planet, and it really does seem at times that our little lives are insignificant.

Decades ago I did a nine day solo hike through Necklace Valley. Sue was working a new job and couldn’t go, would have been around 1977. I hiked up into the wilderness towards Mt. Daniel past a chain of small lakes. I was around 9 miles in when I came upon an absolutely flat plateau half a mile square. It had a small incline to it and smack dab in the middle was a house sized boulder, just sitting there as if it had dropped from Mars.

Because it was a rainy weekday I was completely alone up there at 7000 feet. I dropped my 70 pound pack by the boulder. Dad had given me 3 loaves of bread for the trip. “They didn’t rise for some reason, but that makes them durable and they’ll pack small!” With the weight off my back I pondered the slow march of geologic time, and the difference between that and our rushed and frantic lives.

Back to the present: because of her Covid cough, Sue has been sleeping in our Lazyboy recliner for a couple nights. I was getting better and able to sleep in the bed. Normally if I dream I have PTSD nightmares about printing, but this time I had a nightmare that my life had never existed. In the dream my entire consciousness was wafer thin white planes of light, swooshing through a seamless white room, maybe 60 feet square. There was no color, no anything, just this sense of constant movement of white on white. I could just barely tell that they were shaped like diamonds, or elongated hexagons.

Some part of my dreaming mind knew that there had once been so much more. That there had been real life and love, people and trees, mountains and color. But all that was gone, replaced with ever rushing whiteness, and I was unsure what was real. I believe in the here and now, and all I could see or hear was the white on white movement.

The small part of my brain that was lucid knew I was probably dreaming, but the overwhelming power of the white vision was frightening. I wondered if this was reality, and my former existence was the dream. It became quite perplexing. If this is it, this is really going to suck for a long, long time!

But then I gradually woke up to the bright light of morning streaming in though the window. The house was dead silent, no coughing, no footsteps as Sue made her morning coffee. I worried that her Covid had worsened during the night and leapt out of bed to check on her. I found her asleep on the couch and gathered her in my arms, so happy she was ok. We had been apart for 23 days. Utah was awesome as always, and the new friends I’d made were super nice and welcoming, inviting me to join them at the crag the day I left, saying: “You should come, it’ll be awesome!”

But I’d heard the loneliness in Sue’s voice on my last trip to town. None of my new friends had a significant other at home. They were all single. I had a beautiful woman waiting for me at home, plus two amazing kids and now 2, soon to be 4 grandkids.

I’d had a morning cough for a week, along with growing soreness in my joints. I chalked them both up to a cold and too many long approaches with the heavy pack of splitter gear. I was so tired I was considering a one on, one off climbing schedule.

As I mulled it over, preparing for another 10:30 AM dawn start, I realized I was more excited about seeing Sue than going climbing. Plus my left hand had two small bleeding splits in the finger tips. I had neglected daily hand lotion.

I told Christina, my most recent climbing partner, and who was sharing the campsite, that I’d made my decision. I’d get home in time to see Sue and the family for a few days before they left on their vacation.

“Oh, Sue will be so happy!” was her response. And she was, until we both got sick. It’s 9 days later and we are finally feeling better, maybe even ready to get some exercise. My next post will be about the trip itself.