Here we are at the beach: one of those quiet, nearly deserted coves south of Gold Beach which can be bitter cold when the wind is up, or Edenic on a sunny morning. It’s morning, the sun is up, and there are many of us. From the parking area we hiked down a steep, dry gully to get to a shore tracked by dogs and gulls. Damp sand made virginal by the receding tide, snaking line of cream-white shell fragments, smooth stones sparkling and popping a million tiny voices as the ocean sucks another wave back down. A rumble, a crash from the wrong direction, and the gully is no more. We’re trapped in the cove.
And I have surgical cases at 8 AM at my little hospital in Gold Beach.
We go our various ways. I climb one of the nearby bluffs that ring the cove and find a trail leading back to a concrete parking structure that has no business on the Southern Oregon coast. There it is, my in-laws’ old brown Camry. As soon as I get in and start the engine, the Camry turns into a go-kart, only it’s still a Toyota, so of course the accelerator sticks and I have a devil of a time not crashing on this suddenly crowded San Francisco avenue. And now it’s LA County Hospital where I have those 8 AM cases, and not only do I not have the time to make my start, I can’t seem to remember the OR’s phone number. Can’t even tell them I’m going to be late.
It goes on and on like that. There’s a part where I’m inching along at two or three or four miles an hour, part of a parade sandwiched between a clown car and a bronze centipede that roils along like a dragon on Chinese New Year; there’s another part where I tell myself if I can only find the freeway, I’ll be fine, but when I stop and ask directions from a guy on the street, he yammers gibberish at me, and all his friends laugh. It goes on and on.
And I’m thinking now that I should have stayed in that cove. Maybe that’s how you defeat a student’s dream.