Last night, I ate at a Chinese restaurant with an old friend and some new ones. They had come to West Virginia from Baltimore and DC to go spelunking in John Brown’s Cave near Harpers Ferry.
They had explored a chute at the bottom of the cave and when they returned the way was almost entirely filled with water. (I could see the exact place in my mind, having been inside the cave myself on several occasions).
They made it out.
But if they would have waited to return another 15 minutes, they would have been trapped. I looked around the table at these warm and laughing faces and shivered at the thought of them floating cold and lifeless in a muddy cave.
They laughed and carried on good conversation, but they were not really emotionally present. Every once in awhile I would catch a faraway look in one of their eyes in the midst of a conversation.
I realized that though they sat at the table, each of them was still back in the cave; swimming, breathing hard, one second away from panic, straining for the mouth of the cave.
January 23, 1995
This is a continuation of the Hodge Podge Journal series, excerpts from my art words journal circa 1995.