I took the day off today. My summer vacation. One day. Monica's mom watches Violet on Wednesdays, so it seemed like the day to choose. I got up early and had some cereal and coffee and messed with Violet a little when she woke up. I fed her some milk. Then I popped Charlotte's Web into her DVD Player/Magical Enthraller and slipped out the door.
Up Parley's Canyon I drove. And back into the mountains. To my river. I love it so much there. I walk for miles and don't eat or drink anything all day and I catch gorgeous wild brown trout and it's just sublime. Around ten today I stopped and watched a flock of wild turkeys pick worms and grubs way out in the middle of a farmer's green field. Then, awhile later, I surprised a mule deer fawn in some high grass. She didn't seem to have any idea what the hell I was. I made a wide circle around her and continued on my rollicking way. Thumping through the valley meadows, creeping up on the glistening river, sitting on boulders/smoking cigs. Welcome to Flavor Country.
Fishing was good today. I caught many. Not as good as last Saturday, but still. Last Saturday was a fairy tale. Sun and clouds and thunderstorms and caddis flies and Pale Morning Duns and every pool below every rocky rapid had some behemoth hidden in its shade. It was spectacular. And so today was good, but not like that. I had a cool day though. Midweek fishing is a treat. There is no one else around. No one out there flailing their fly line all over my 'secret spots'.
All day long today I caught fish and was pretty happy. But a part of me felt uncomfortable. Guilty. Monica hasn't had any days off after she had to use them all up for maternity leave. No summer vacation for her either. So it eats at me as I wade out further into the cold river. It hassles my conscience. I usually end up
going trout hunting at least one of the days on the weekend. I justify it by telling myself it keeps me steady and sane. And truth be told: it probably does. Although, I'm not really all that steady/sane at all, so the effect is minimalistic really.
I get to go fishing and Monica pretty much doesn't get to do anything like that. And while I end up watching Violet for quite a bit of the week, I know that Monica spends a lot of hours changing diapers in pre-dawn hazes and crawling on the floor with our daughter while I'm off working. So, she is right there with me as far as KidTime goes. And as much as we both love being with our kid, the truth is the truth. You need a break now and then. Time out or time alone. Without the baby. Just out in the world watching a movie or looking at magazines in air conditioned aisles. Time to unwind. Decompress.
I go fishing. She doesn't. This had led to a pickle. The fishing has become a bittersweet monkey on my back. A filthy whore I cannot stop loving. Monica becomes pissed when I spend ten hours up on some mountain river when she's at home with Violet on a Saturday. I don't blame her really. I'd get miffed too. So, in the final hours of any one of my many outdoorsy jaunts, I begin to feel guilty and rushed and torn between two Moons, two gravities.
I dip my ripe trucker hat into the cool rushing water and put it back upon my head. My indicator zips across the current and I pop the rod just a hair and he's on. He busts the surface and gleams in the day for a second: a bronzed Philadelphia hoagie shot up from Middle Earth. He convinces me to stay. He whispers to me. Stay, pussy. Your wife is fine. She won't be mad.
They lie to me. The trout.
Around 4:30 this afternoon, I don't feel like entertaining the Guilt Troll anymore. I knock him off my shoulder, step on his throat, on his Adam's Apple, twist my wading boot hard, and watch him pass out. I head back to the car. I am amazed at my fortitude. My own strength blows my mind. Look at this shit, I say. Going back to the car. Going back to the family. To the homestead. Moving towards fairness and responsibility instead of twelves hours of sun/bliss/nymphs/browns.
At the car, I hurry up so I can beat Monica's Mom back to our house. I don't want her to have to wait there with Violet after she's had her all day. I'm jittery. Time is close. I have maybe twenty-five minutes to make a half hour drive. My gear gets taken off and tossed in the car with reckless abandon. And that's not my style at all. I don't have much but what I have I take care of. But, I don't wanna be late. I already feel weirdly guilty for fishing.
I pull out and pop a few pretzels in my mouth. I uncap the remains of a two-liter of Diet Coke from home and wash down the salty goop. There is a sound like a branch on the car roof. Hmmm, I tell myself.
When it dawns on me that its my fly rod and reel falling off my speeding Suzuki Verona, many things flash before my mind's eye.
Here are some:
--This is a message from God.
--This is a message from Monica.
--This is not good.
--Where did it land?
--This is a message from God, Part II.
--It couldn't have gone far.
But it went far enough. In the wrong direction. I spun the car around, circled back, then back again, scouring the shoulder. I knew roughly where I had heard the sound, but nothing specific. I throw the car onto the shoulder and parade up and down the dusty berm looking in at the clumps of sagebrush and Big Gulp cups baking in the incessant sun. I don't see it. Anywhere.
I look on my side of the road. The side I was driving on.
Meanwhile, other cars and trucks coming the other way, casually drive over my fly rod and reel which is laying over in a place I never would have guessed.
Ten minutes later, a friendly girl stops her SUV, asks me if I'm looking for my rod. She says it's back there.
I go get it. It's all fucked up. Things are shredded and ripped. Bent. There's graphite that's been shredded like cheddar. I put it in the backseat and drive off fast. I'm embarrassed as hell. People driving by saw me.
People driving by saw me being chased by God and Monica Bielanko down the side of the sunstroke'd road during the mountain rush hour and grinning mindlessly and waving a flappy fly rod to and fro as if you could catch anything at all with a Steaming Hot Pile of Self-Centered Guilt.