I was living in a small two story home on the outskirts of Santiago in a comuna called Renca. This birthday was different than all the ones I had had before. 1. I had just recently been married and was living and working in Chile. B. I had spent hours on buses commuting around the city and during that time, had read just about every brochure the International Society for Krishna Consciousness had to offer. One of the things that had appealed to me was their focus on vegetarianism.
The idea of a plant based diet had intrigued me from an early age. My first girlfriend was a vegetarian and despite all the shit I gave her about it, I was impressed by her courage to be different and look outside the box. Especially taking a stand on something she felt passionately about and that could make such a huge difference in the fucked up world in which we live. As I read through the logic and tradition of the vegetarian diet of the Krishna Society, it rekindled some of those feelings. About a week before my birthday, I made it known that we would be having a barbecue and then I would no longer be eating meat.
I had not seen my family for over two months. If I remember correctly we hadn’t even spoke on the phone, just some emails. I was immersed in my life on the other half of the world, getting along the only way I knew how, by mostly faking it until I figured out what the fuck I was doing. The 4 years proceeding, I had spent more time in the Southern Hemisphere than I had in the States.
The water was full of moss having a green tint to it even when you looked out and across the water’s surface. There was just a hint of cool in the air as we unloaded the boat and began to get the poles ready. There were a few other cars scattered around the lake, but we were the only ones launching a boat. We could tell the reservoir was low as the boat launch was more or less non-existent. We were well passed the last bit of cement as we finally stopped to untie the boat from the trailer and push it into the water.
Despite the fact that I hadn’t been fishing in over a decade, the motions seemed second nature. Untie boat, get ready for feet to get wet as the truck backs the trailer into the water and I push it out to release it from its dock. Truck pulls forward with me holding onto the rope attached to the bow of the boat. Yup, I think I got this.
We pile the ice chest and poles into the boat. There’s some chaos just like there always was when I was younger. My mom yelling at my dad, my dad cracking jokes about my mom. Then the boarding begins. Everyone is a little timid about that first step in. After all, this is an aluminum fishing boat. It’s not known for its stability. After everyone has successfully and safely entered the boat. I push it back out into the water getting my feet wet once again. I always hated the feeling of the nasty silt that always seems to accumulate on the beaches of reservoir as it filters through my toes.
And we’re off.
This trip was part of my sorry to KB for not being able to finish the JMT due to my bout with HAPE. You see, Kathleen had been really concerned about having enough food. So much so that she had brought along fishing gear and purchased a California State fishing license that wasn’t cheep. She fished at Cathedral Lake but hadn’t caught anything and then our trip ended before she got a chance to do any more fishing. Needless to say, I really wanted her to catch a fish.
We put the lines out. My dad slowly cruising the boat around the lake the same way he always had. The memories began to come rolling through my head. All those years and all the weekends that he and I had spent with lines over the edge in some lake or reservoir just hoping to catch a fish. Even back to the time before my Grandpa Tink died and the three of us spent hours bouncing around in a truck to get somewhere to hike around being as quiet as possible in hopes of getting some meat for the year. The memories serve me as well, as I remember to tie the lure onto the line and how to slowly let the lines out…
The first fish hits my line hard. There’s a rush of adrenaline through my body and I’m reeling the damn thing in. My dad repeats his mantra, “Keep the tip up.” My mom is the only one without a line in the water so she netted the fish. The back and forth of whether it was a nice fish or good enough to keep was there. The smile on my dad’s face and the excitement from my mother, all the same reactions that I remember from years ago. It was like being a 12 year old kid again that couldn’t think of anything better than going fishing with his dad.
KB’s turn came a little later. She caught a bunch of fish, to the point that she handed her pole over to my mom and took to being the net person. We fished until we were done. And then I made KB help my dad clean all the fish.
And then we had a barbecue. It was at Beans and Rice’s house. We brought the fish and he supplied the veggies from his garden. We grilled the trout. And for the first time in years I consumed flesh. It seemed appropriate. I killed it, I should eat it. Every bight made me reflect on my decision a decade earlier and how it has affected those around me. I will never eat flesh just to eat flesh, but if I can spend a morning with my dad doing what he loves… Well, I guess that’s the price that has to be paid.
P. L. and R.