Here is the pool at my aunt's house, cold and in terrible disrepair.
On my way to work this morning, I was in a mood. It was cold and I was tired and I was feeling a little sorry for myself for being broke and not being able to find a guy who lives anywhere near my town, anywhere near my age who I could actually date. I was whiny about having to walk a mile just to sit in a cubicle and answer stupid questions over the phone all day. Those people who say there are no stupid questions, need to sit at my desk for an hour or two. They will definitely change their minds and then instantly develop an extremely unhealthy alcohol addiction. When I almost slipped on the ice for the 18th time and actually said, "Whoa!" out loud, just like Joey Lawrence, I started to ponder the bad decisions that had brought me to this point. What if I had stayed in California that last time instead of moving back to Iowa? Would I be somewhere fun, like I was when I worked at the ski resort, or would I have a more interesting and important job to go to like I did when I was working on the Salmon Restoration Project?
The ski resort was called Snow Summit and it was in the San Bernadino Mountains, East of Los Angeles. I had to walk to work when I lived there too. Of course, the walk was beautiful, but I had to be at work by six in the morning. My boyfriend didn't have to work until eight. I hiked up the hill in the dark. Usually, I could hear the coyotes following me and I was okay with that, because they didn't bother me - they just tagged along. The dogs were the big problem. Everybody had dogs and none of them ever seemed to be on leashes. My boyfriend found a big stick that he left outside for me to take with in case I was attacked. It wasn't the least bit comforting.
One morning, I saw a black German shepard in its yard. I walked to the other side of the road in hopes that it wouldn't see me, but it didn't work. Its owners were nowhere in sight, and it came charging for me. I really didn't want to have to beat it with a stick, but I also didn't want it to bite holes in my face either. Finally, I scolded it like I was its owner. "Bad dog. Go on! Git." I tried to sound authoritative, while masking that scared hitch in my voice. Oddly enough, it worked. The dog stopped running, but still barked and growled. I yelled at it to go home and eventually it did. I walked the rest of the way to work so spazzed out, I didn't even notice the coyotes following behind me.
It rained every day this time of year in Northern California where I worked during my stint with the Salmon Restoration Project. We also raised 10,000 steelhead trout in pools during the Winter months. Since we were in the California Conservation Corps., it all had to be eco-friendly. We used rain water brought down in PVC pipes from where we collected it in order to create a current for the fish to swim around and around in the pools. The only problem, is that it would rain so hard over night that rocks and silt would clog the pipes. We took turns during the week, waking up every two hours at night to check them. If it was your turn, you messed up your sleep schedule, never dried off and you were miserable the entire time. I remember dreading my turn.
Thinking about the jobs I could be working and the scary walks I could be taking, made the twenty minute trek in the cold to sit in a warm office answering annoying questions seem almost pleasant. Even feeling the cubicle walls slowly sucking my soul all day, was comforting.