Thursday, September 20, 2007

frank fishing

We (he) drove out to Cascade Locks to buy fish from Indians. We watched Frank bring in nets across the bow of his mossy, 16 foot fiberglass boat while his wife sold fish from the bank--a parking lot bank beside the locks on the Columbia. His boat had no windshield. I guess it would play hell with the net. Big nets. Nice fish. Cheap, for fresh fish. Once we got ours home it looked to have been bit by a seal, so we lost a little in the middle. It was a steelhead, to smoke. Most of it is now in brine, and we'll eat some tonight, cooked in coconut butter and lemon, with a blend of red, brown and wild rice and some fresh picked tomato salad. MMmmmmm. Its not salmon, but smoked steelhead is my favorite. I got all I could off the carcass to use for omelettes and chowder. It was their last day of fishing for the week. They get to fish when we whities don't.

I felt pretty white purchasing a fish from an indian. Its not like we got it for beads or anything, but still, it felt a bit city-fied and touristy. I was nearly compelled to explain to Frank's wife that, although we may at this point in our evolution be living in Portland, we are really just country folk, momentarily lost in the city. And while this is true, I don't know that explaining to an Indian that we are, in fact, rednecks from the Rogue Valley, would have improved our standing or offered any comfort or commonality. Race is so difficult for me. I am so white. I overcome it intellectually, but at no time was I unaware that I was dealing with an indian, and as such, wondered if he knew the fish had been bit and spoiled. Old wounds run deep. But at the bottom of it, we are both gypsies.

But what got me most of all was not the ingrained racism, which I think is a product of vision and history, but the way I see certain people: artists who make their living as artists, writers who make their living as writers, Indians who make their living as indians. It is a one-dimensional view at best, and I romanticize it like I do anything that is other than me.

So, you can imagine my dismay when she, the loyal and nameless wife of Frank, fish monger and authentic indian, pulled out a business card. And all of my assumptions, my romantic notions of what it means to be other, clattered to the asphalt, a feral breaking sound that in the end, made us more alike than not.

Now, my belly full of fish and rice, I am posting on my brand new computer with Windows Vista. I like it. I'd venture to say I love it. In my view, it is the first new version in a really long time that actually seems like an improvement. I'm sure there is a good reason why it is awful and I should hate it, but so far, the little notepad gadget on the desktop is my favorite. Remember, I'm the girl who bought a car once because it had a fan that moved from side to side automatically. I'm easy.

And cheap.

So, the coming of age procedure is behind me (ahem) and I'm all better. Just fine. Nothing was wrong. I'm glad to have all the major systems checked out. I know just enough to be dangerous, and that can be nerve-wracking.


asha said...

Know what ya mean, all but the part about the draino and the hospital. What did I miss? I always miss something.

msb said...

mmm. steelhead. you luckie white girl.