In a bizarre turn of events, I found myself in Ashland, OR today acting as E’s assistant for this wedding he’s catering (see May 17-19 posts). My car is still being fixed and the guy who was supposed to go up with E canceled at the last minute, so here I am. We spent the morning gathering fish from Fish and produce from the Marin Market and then made the drive up to Ashland. E guessed that the car was holding about 500 lbs worth of supplies and food and it showed – we were going 50 mph up hills and 80 mph down hills, plus we experienced this weird boat-like rocking the whole way up.
Once in Ashland, we dropped the stuff off at the As’ (parents of the bride) place and then went to see E’s friend’s parents, who took us to the house we’re currently staying at (E’s friend’s parents’ friends are away for the weekend and offered to put us up in their home). From there we had dinner and then went back up to the As’ to debone 75 lbs of trout.
Maybe it’s the Japanese in me, but I love handling raw fish. I told E that fish had to be the only animals that were as soothing dead as they were alive. Something about the coolness, the watery freshness, I think. Before we started, E told me he expected the deboning to take about an hour, so I thought that we’d simply be pealing skeletons off of the filets. Imagine my surprise, then, when he handed me a pair of tweezers and told me to begin plucking the pinbones out of every slab of fish. At first he was finishing off three fish for my one, but eventually I got the hang of it and was able to keep up. I will say this, though – I will NEVER again complain about a pinbone in my fish. For me, they were almost impossible to see (even after the bride’s dad offered us more light), so I had to flick each one before plucking. Then, I ran my fingers over the entire length of fish to feel if I had missed any, which I usually had. I told E that I didn’t even want to think about how many I hadn’t caught, but he told me not to worry about it.
It felt good to be working again, to have a goal and completable tasks. It’s so different from the other work I’ve been doing lately – the work of sitting and waiting, of going with the flow and trying not to get wrapped up in the meaning of the most trivial things. In many ways this latter form is harder and I’m glad that Mom encouraged me to go on this trip with E, even though she’s “worried about our psyches.” When I asked her to explain, she replied, “How many times will you two say goodbye to each other?” It’s already been twice and it could be one or two more. I don’t notice the hurt yet, but I’m sure I will.