The Safety Leash

The Kiwis are gone. But their exit flight dominated galley conversation for at least a week. There was an almost palpable excitement. Restricted hope. The word was that there were 13 bags of mail. That flight historically is not known for bringing mail or “freshies.” Everyone had been pessimistically hopeful.

It was posted on the galley wall at breakfast. The mood was like that of Seattle on the first day of summer. Everyone is excited and happy, but won’t admit it. Just like you can’t admit that the rain and gloom in Seattle does, in fact, suck, you can’t admit that getting mail isn’t really exciting. “Mail’s here, mail’s here!”

It’s only been a few weeks since I last got mail. Hell, I’ve only been on the ice for about 6 weeks or so. We have wifi and Sunday brunch and a dingy sauna. And mail. I get instant updates on what’s going on at home. I’m still connected, despite being at the end of the earth. It really puts into perspective what the original explorers did here. They disappeared for years with no updates. Mail would go onto passing ships with a faint hope that it would arrive at its destination. I got annoyed that one of my packages won’t show up until the April flight (hopefully) or, god forbid, I’ll have to wait until the June flight. Oh the humanity! Besides the mail, communications and freshies, those original cats had down and wool. I’ve got high end mountaineering gear and it’s too cold just to go for a hike today. Granted it’s -49F, but those guys had to move throughout the winter, dragging sleds and hunting seals. I’m going to the Big Gym for rock climbing session. Leisure, in Antarctica! What a novel concept

If something happened at home, there’d be no way of getting home. If someone gets sick or dies, maybe I’ll get home in a few weeks, if the flights are good. My predecessors wouldn’t have even known that something had happened. We’re connected enough to know any terrible things going on at home. The daily horror show that is American politics is a regular topic of discussion. The bombings and chaos happening all around the world are still right in my face. There’s a comfort in being that connected. There’s something reassuring about being able to call the States from time to time. I know all the shenanigans that the nieces and nephews are up to. Monkey pants my sister calls it. It’s a safety leash.

When I go climbing, I disappear. There is no connection in the mountains. Somethings it’s a few days, sometimes it’s a few weeks. But I’m certainly not checking Facebook from Huascaran Sur basecamp. Free. The sense of freedom in that is unbelievable. I turn off my phone. I check out. Whatever happens will happen and I’ll deal with it on my return. Ignorance is bliss.

I’m not sure which is worse. Not knowing or knowing what’s happening at home and not being able to do a damn thing about it. There must have been an incredible sense of freedom for those old explorers. They packed the ships and left. I get an inkling of it when I leave my Peruvian hostel for the mountains. The phones are off, the computers are shutdown. It only lasts a few weeks at best. The Originals had that for years. Just wild to think about it.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love getting mail. I got sent a pictures of beaches, babes, homies and Mt Rainier, one of which had a lovely note that compared me to a Mormon missionary. Certainly didn’t see that coming. And a season of Archer. Danja zone!!!!

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