We are home from West Coast vacation. Somehow as I think about the weeks we have just been away and the fall and start of school year coming so soon, I think in numbers.
Things are still quiet in our town, and you can feel that much of the city is off on vacation or working shorter, less frantic days, in less dressy clothes with fewer cars clogging the roads downtown. I am back at work but on the shortened schedule we adopt at my workplace when the legislature I work for, is in recess. I had lunch with a very old friend recently– a guy I’ve not been in touch with in probably 20 or more years and caught up on his five children. And I will have lunch again, out of the office, with a Jewish mom like me, whose daughter has been friends with mine since before kindergarten and is now at a different middle school. Two friends, two lunches out of the office.
We were on Pacific time on vacation– so three hours earlier. I didn’t have a lot of trouble in that direction the way I used to– I didn’t wake up ready to get moving at 4:30 a.m., but we’ve all had a heck of a time getting back to Eastern time. The first night we were back daughter was up until 2:00 a.m. and I until 3:30 a.m. Then we all got up at about 7:30 the next morning. Oy.
Here are just a few of the other numbers skittering in my head. While on vacation we were staying at a house in a town that is 4,505 feet above sea level. When we drove into Lassen Volcanic Park we hiked to Bumpass Hell and other sites– at about 8,000 feet. Bumpass Hell is a geothermal area in Lassen Volcanic park with bubbling springs and geysers that reach about 200 degrees fahrenheit. It is, as my partner liked to say, otherworldly; a place that looks something like we imagine it might look if we landed on the moon, except white and bright and sunny. Here are a few of the stats from the guide book about the hike from a parking lot to Bumpass Hell.
Start: Bumpass Hell parking lot
Round Trip Distance: 3 miles
Round Trip Time: 2 hours
Terrain: easy 300 foot descent
Elevation: 8000 feet
Our gang, looking down at Bumpass Hell, geothermal area below, with water that steams and bubbles at over 200 degrees f.
We were away 16 days. I worked out at my friends’ YMCA twice, did three good hikes, one routine 6.5 mile bike ride on fairly flat surface except that the sun was beating down, it was 97 degrees and there was no shade, and I took a few great aerobic walks. My daughter skidded on gravel and fell off her mountain bike once and really scraped up one knee badly on countless pieces of rock and stone. While at Lassen we experienced three earthquakes, which my daughter loved and which reminded us that we live on this one earth and are part of the natural world– free to enjoy and revel in it and at its mercy too.
My biggest number one worry these days (a mild way to put it– it’s about a zillion cubic feet in size, to put it in numbers) is that now that my daughter is a 12-year-old, and having worked this job for 19 months which has taken us through two school years, I cannot work these long hours for months on end for another full year. I am trying to figure out what to do about the fact that I cannot bear to miss another one of her remaining school years at home, which I count as no fewer than six though possibly more. I want almost nothing more than time to be available. Available after school, available for parent-teacher conferences, available for the times (fewer and further between) when the young people at school put on a performance or invite us parents to hang out with them after school or at a school activity.
There are a lot of other numbers too– like there were seven of us ages 12-64 on our trip. And like the fact that back here at home my partner has some single digit number of days before she leaves her job after 10 years in her former job. She is ready for a change and her non-profit cannot afford her deputy director salary number anymore. Actually to be precise, they’ve not afforded it and she’s been working at reduced pay for some number of months I won’t calculate.
There is the number of miles away, Izzy, my nephew, is, in Quito, Ecuador– which I have not yet calculated or the number of months til he is back in our town, or the one bedroom we have back with his departure. I’d trade the bedroom back for the nephew in a heartbeat. There is the number of bags of stuff we should fill and move along out of our houser and the number of hours it will take to organize all that. And there is the Jewish new year, just around the corner– year number 5774. And last but not least, this is my third blog post this month and the month ain’t over yet.