We put gas in the car and drove to the plane. We landed on the other side
and took the bus to the booth where we paid for the gas in the car with the
plastic in our pockets. We treated the car like our own even though it was a
rental. It was red and handled smoothly. We didn’t worry that it ate more gas
than our car back home, which ate only a moderate amount of gas and made us
feel good about ourselves day to day. We didn’t worry because we were on
The car had a wide track and a fine stereo. We played the stereo and almost couldn’t hear the jackhammers or sirens outside. We were deaf to nearly everything around us.
We parked the car at the landing. We looked forward to climbing the
gangplank and boarding the boat, but first we had to stand in line to buy
tickets. There were groans. The last thing we wanted to do was stand in line.
Standing in line reminded us just how much we hated standing in line which in
turn reminded us of all the things we did back home that created similar
feelings, and if there’s one thing a vacation shouldn’t do it shouldn’t remind
you of home. That’s why we have vacations.
We were all thinking the same thing: we should have planned ahead. If we’d
planned ahead we could have bought the tickets in advance and have avoided the
line altogether. Then we would be the people already on the boat looking down
at the people in line instead of being the people in line looking at the boat
with longing and regret.
A glacier tour. That’s why we’d come so far. We wanted to see the world’s
Because it’s different, that’s why.
The ice back home is young and boring. It’s made to melt. Infant ice, we
call it. Baby ice. Ice that would cry if it could.
Eventually we boarded the boat and we set sail and cast off our thoughts of
home and our longing and our regret. We embraced our vacation.
The seas were choppy and swollen. Along the coast we saw glaciers rise from
the water like castles behind moats. Our mouths were open. We were very
impressed. It’s not every day you see ice big enough to scare you.
We ate our sandwiches and watched a large ice chunk wrench from the glacier
and drop to the water. Its sound was that of thunder. The sea seethed and
tantrumed waves. Someone in a fancy suit said, “You’ve just witnessed the birth
of an iceberg. It’s called calving. It’s both beautiful and sad.”
Everyone agreed he was right.
The waves heaved. They rocked the boat. One or two people fell overboard but
we pretended not to notice.
We looked through our binoculars at the ice calf. Upon closer inspection we
spotted something dark inside. A seal or a walrus frozen ages ago. A
mammal-cicle. Most things die and are swallowed up in dirt. Others get trapped
in pockets of ice.
But maybe the dark spot wasn’t a walrus. Maybe it was a prehistoric man.
The way the iceberg bobbed up and down convinced us we were on to something.
There was an iceman inside. We were sure of it.
We wondered what his clothes were like. His shoes. Did the animal fur
covering his body have pockets? If so, we wanted to know what was in them. Did
prehistoric men have trinkets? Did they have baubles? Or was everything they
carried of utmost importance?
We thought of his death, how he succumbed to hunger and thirst. He fell to
his knees. His breathing shallowed and he looked to the sky, shaking for any
number of reasons. The snow came down and covered him. He knew what was next
and he thought he would be there forever, never moving again.
Eventually the iceberg will melt and the iceman will sink to the bottom of
the sea. But he should have stayed there, frozen, locked away. The earth likes
to hide things, and once it’s tucked you in you should remain there, asleep in
We shouldn’t try to fight it. The earth always gets what it wants and most
days it wants to bury us all.
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