Life in a dormant volcano, p.2: Rabbit and Little Mouse

July 8, 2004

My roommate never came home last night, but I did hear someone come home at like 4 a.m. and vomit loudly. I don’t know where it happened, but it was loud. I woke up and went to orientation, which was predictably dull.

The main dorm, at Rim Village, is far more of a college atmosphere. I was pretty set on moving up there, just to get closer to the lake, the rim road, the lodge and cafe. As it is, I have to drive 7 miles to get any of these things. I kind of like the idea of the other dorm. More exciting, more animated younger people. When you ask people down there if they’d move to the Mazama dorm, they say the people are too old and boring. When you ask the opposite, they say the people are too young and party too late. There’s the split between the two in a nutshell. While I was at Rim, I was really into it. Seemed a relaxed, cool atmosphere, and Tom could handle it and is far from a party animal. But more lately, I like it here. Quiet, peaceful. I took a hike nearby and saw an incredible canyon, filled with volcanic sand and sand formations, typical forest, grassy meadows. Really enjoyable. I’m thinking this half of the lake’s town is the way to go lately. Partying with a bunch of college kids could be a lot of fun. But I’m not sure I want it around me all the time. I’m not sure that’s why I came.

The room itself is growing on me. When I came home from work, my roommate, who will be referred to as Rabbit, was home asleep at 4 p.m. and the room had been rearranged better for two. My closet was empty. Later, I would meet Rabbit, who was late in coming home because two people he was in San Francisco with left with his car and without him. He had to take the bus, and was taking it strangely well. He’s from Baton Rouge, and has a down south simplicity that is easy to mistake for stupidity, but may actually be both. Our neighbors are Digger and George, I believe both boat captains who give tours on the lake. They’re very quiet and probably in their late sixties or seventies. At 11 p.m. Rabbit wanted to finish hanging up his spider man poster and knocked on the door adjoining our rooms by bathroom. I couldn’t believe he was waking up two elderly men for thumbtacks. “Digger you up?” Digger was, and he had thumbtacks. You want to drink some Brewskis?” “You got some?” Digger asked back. So they all went to some nearby town to drink some beer with a couple other guys.

I declined the invitation and noticed a fifth member of our suite: a tiny field mouse scampering across the carpet and into the bathroom.

July 10, 2004

I start a new job tomorrow. I’ll be a dock hand, which may be the coolest title I’ve ever held. Every day I hike a mile into the crater, where I’ll aid boat captains taking tourists on tours of the lake. I’m pretty excited, as the last time I went down to the water, the descent was borderline religious. People keep telling me that I landed a good job. There seems to be a network here, that I’m not part of yet. Apparently some elderly woman wanted my job so badly that she scared the park into giving it to her without telling me. I was pretty worked up until I got the boat job, but when I got home from the day’s ordeal, Rabbit knew I had a new position. Then I talked to my old co-worker and she asked which position I took (I had another choice, cleaning floors at night). I have this sneaking feeling that there’s a tight community around me here. I came expecting solitude, but I don’t think being anonymous is possible when working at a national park.

Rabbit gets more and more interesting. From a reporter’s standpoint, he’s one of those interviews that is a nightmare and a blessing in one. He’s a spewer. He tells it all, with no discrimination. So far I’ve learned:

He almost married a fat girl in Texas.

He has a year’s supply of Viagra.

He takes over the counter potency pills.

He has no qualms drinking a sixpack before a night-shift as the lodge security guard.

He loves Metallica.

He is 30.

I like talking/listening to him. I never know what he’s going to say and it’s usually a surprise. “I joined GNC and now they send me a health magazine in the mail.” Bam, last thing he says as he walks out and closes the door behind him.

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