My sister finally came all the way to Gustavus. Last fall, she and I followed the paths of many who came before us, journeying up the Inside Passage. Yet time and obligations allowed her passage only as far as Juneau before turning back to Seattle. This time, she flew across the salty puddle from Juneau to Gustavus.
My sister told me her reaction upon seeing the landing strip surrounded by forest. “When landing in most places, you can at least see some houses around the airport.” One truly feels the sensation of landing in a wild place upon reaching the Gustavus air strip.
Walking from the airstrip to my house, she noticed that everyone waved at her. This caused some stirrings in her mind, though she tentatively waved back. My sister can be quite animated and hilarious, and I enjoy the image of her slowly turning her head to ensure that it was indeed for her that each passerby’s waves was intended. “People are friendly in Seattle,” she said, “but they don’t need to wave at every person they see.”
I, for one, take great comfort in the Gustavus wave. I have been told that I am a bit overzealous in my wave etiquette, as I wave far too early. Apparently, there is a delicate science to “the wave,” with subtle nuances, timing, and individual flare. There is the eager wave that generates movement of the entire hand back and forth, the arm stretch with hand forward, resting on the top of the wheel and waving, the one, two, three, or four finger wave, all the way down the spectrum to the head tilt or nod.
As is fitting with the way I rumble through the world, I wave far too early and with eager zeal at each passerby. Maybe, when I turn 30 things will change. Or perhaps, I will finally accept who I am and celebrate my marieke way of being in the world.
One of my women friends called and asked if I had taken her into “town”. When I responded that we went into town that afternoon, I could hear an echo from my sister on the couch, “there’s a town here”?
For a short visit, we filled the time well with long walks on the beach, cups of warm coffee and conversations on the couch, guitar playing and singing, delicious meals with friends, and even a sister duo performance of the Bangles version of the song “I think we’re alone now,” replete with interpretive dance as only the Slovin sisters can.