Saturday, October 16, 2010 ~ 7:30 am
Still woozy more than 30 minutes later. I hesitate to recount the last two hours. I write about it to sort it out.
The morning began two days ago, purchasing Guy Harvey T-Shirts for spirit day at school. I ventured into a fishing store, left with a $25 fishing pole, some squid for bait, a blue t-shirt with a fish on the back for Jake, and a pink one for Abbey. She wanted yellow, but we bought the two they had.
The story actually begins two years ago. George said he wanted to take them fishing, a strangely delusional request, but probably one intended to linger in my life as a reminder of the lies we tell. I don't know if he had ever been fishing in his life. More likely, he anticipated Jake's need for such a thing. With the Disney fishing rods they got for Easter, they fished in the little lake behind John's house just a month before George's death. He sat in a wheelchair wrapped in a blanket with a hat to keep his warmth in. The wind blew a March breeze through the branches of the live oak by the dock. The bugs swarmed, patience demanded we do something different, and the fishing trip ended.
Since George's death, we live with a dock in our backyard, and Jake asks to fish regularly. So with the new gear and some basic instructions on casting, one evening of practice catching a sting ray with John, Jake and I start our Saturday morning fishing from the dock.
As with all of my adventures, I don't think it through all the way. I figure Jake can cast it and pull it in. He knows how to bait the hook. All I'll have to do is get the hook out and throw the sea life back using the pliers. I saw it done with a sting ray and I didn't freak out.
With smiling anticipation, I find the pliers, the bug spray, a chair, my camera, phone, green tea and incense. Confidence reminds me that Jake visions me a super hero, saving the day, using my powers to twist minds, travel between dimensions and conquer fear. He'll grow up one day and say, my mom makes magic, casts spells, and defeats monsters.
The tidal marsh tempts us to cast half way down the dock. Cutting the frozen squid doesn't make my stomach spin. This pleases Jake. With great caution and attention, he slides the squid on both hooks. A few failed casts cause him to pause and think through the steps. He remembers to let go. He beautifully sends the line into the shallow middle. Soon, too soon, he reels it in, repeat 3 or 4 times. Then he settles and leaves it, leaning the pole on the railing.
After catching a stick and losing a hook, he recasts, landing in the deep reeds of the pluff mud. The weight and hook are stuck. At first we seriously consider Jake adventuring into the crab's domain to untangle the line from the grass. Healthy fear stops Jake. I tug and wiggle the line from this mess. Saving the day - check.
Jake, ready to abandon the bonding, suggests trying just once from the floating dock. Patience and positive energy, I insist. "Baby Jake," I tell him, "we are going to catch something." The dolphins spout agreement as they swim by. Perfection, I assure him. Life doesn't get more pleasant than this. Twisting minds - check.
He casts it for me and invites me to hold the rod. He shows me how to bring the line back a little. He instructs me never to turn the reel the wrong way. He sits on my lap and we wait. Far too quickly, I feel a tug on the line. Twice I reel it in, learning the weight of the line. The third time though, the pull is different. At times I feel the struggle a real contest. Jake wants to try, I hand him the rod. He struggles too, but pulls it in, a gross snake, a heavy, fat, slimy, grayish green sea snake's mouth stuck, bait still on the hook. I feel the swell and drop in my brain as the nerves in my forehead flow and tingle. I focus enough to seek my safe place. I hold the line, trying to gauge the movements of the eel. Jake brings the pliers. I twist and tug, trying to release the hook from his mouth. The dock floats with each passing boat's wake. The eel flops and flails.
Jake calls John, very calmly describes the scene, maybe falsely, but with certainty, declares the eel electric. My mom is holding the line. We don't know what to do he says. He hands me the phone. Recalling my words is like remembering the first time I held a pencil.
Perhaps I said, "will it hurt me? tell me what to do."
The obvious solution was to cut the line, but I didn't know what of the little metal pieces, round beads, a mini carabiner, could afford to be lost. I called John again. This time I know I said, "please come save the day." His frustration of being woken by this haphazard mini crisis traveled through the wire. "Melissa, I never thought you would be good at this," he said. "Put the eel back in the water so it doesn't die." I wanted the eel to die. But now I was sick. I could feel the motion of the still air. Steam formed around my hairline from the temperature drop in my face and neck and the reflection of my face in the water revealed the gray-green of the fish. "I'm going to vomit. I need you to not tell me I suck at this and come save the day."
Witnessing the moment, an arms length away, torn between interesting events, the eel flopping or mommy melting down, Jake quietly observed.
John urged, "If Jake wants to fish he'll have to learn how to get the eel off the hook. It's not electric, it's just nasty."
Right, I think, could he learn about getting the nasty eel off the hook when someone else is teaching him because right now, I'm out here on the moving dock with the eel flopping on a sharp hook and I might pass out if that slimy eel touches my baby boy.
"Oh..., oh no, I'm definitely going to vomit." I say.
Dimension travel - Fail. Still in a three dimensional situation, unable to teleport to safety, I say, "Jake, you can do this."
Again I hang up. Jake you can do this. I search my words, which are jumbled and missing right now, as I describe how I want him to use the pliers to unlatch the carabiner, but my words come out sounding more like metal... bead... push... tug.
Jake cut the line, the eel sluggishly left the scene with the hook attached and we found my kryptonite.