Doug Bruns

Of Parrot Fish.

In Adventure, Memoir, Travel, Writing on April 30, 2012 at 6:00 am

I friend wrote asking how I was holding up in light of my pending trip to Nepal. I’ve traveled with this friend and she knows I get jittery before a trip. I confessed I was “getting wiggy.” She matter-of-factly said to drop the wigginess, that it was not becoming. Another friend wrote to wish me well and while doing so told me he admired my commitment to adventure and a life occasionally slanting towards the edge. I expressed appreciation, but confessed that I was growing anxious and beginning to second guess myself. Three weeks in the mountains, much of it at altitude, such distance from home, from wife and dog–I need to get underway and leave all that on the pier, I said. Once you cast off, things start to look better.

This fashion of nerves is not new. As a kid I would get myself screwed up thinking about and dwelling upon whatever vacation adventure awaited. This buck-toothed little Hoosier, supine on the back bench of the Chevy Impala, got vacation nerves. Who would guess I was so high strung?

Once, leaving the mashed-potato comforts of Indiana, we journeyed to the distant and foreign land of Key West. My parents promised to take me deep-sea fishing. That is, my dad was to take me. Mom was scared of the water and sat in the car reading her Science and Health.

I was excited and turned the event over in my head, round and round. The morning of our adventure I was a jumble of nerves, worked up, and at a local breakfast joint threw up at the table, my stomach such a tangle. I am sure it was a most unpleasant morning for the other patrons.

I recall catching a parrot fish. It was a green and yellow flash of wet lightening. Pulled over the gunnel at the end of my line, it flopped at my feet. I was spell-bound, never imagined such a thing so perfectly beautiful. A crew member grabbed it and tossed it into a gaping bucket along with all the other gasping and dying fish. I was wide-eyed, aghast and stricken with pungent and sudden guilt, having delivered such a creature to its end. I mourn still over watching it die, the color leaving it in drips and it’s eye–only one eye visible, the fish being on it’s side–the eye growing milky. There was a life lesson.

That is the honest and current state of things, a blended weight of gag suppression, guilt, and an ache to get rolling.

I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading.

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