The 198o explosion of Mt. St. Helen’s has been a point of fascination for me ever since I moved here. What must it have been like to be witness to that kind of crazy power, that kind of wild disaster? I can get lost in looking at pictures of the aftermath. Everything thick with ash. And yet, despite this fascination I’d never been closer to the mountain than I was when speeding by on I-5 on my way to Seattle.
I leave the hiking of this mountain to my more fit and ambitious friends. Instead, I convinced my parents to take a little drive up to one of the observation areas opposite the mountain. My parents like a little drive, especially one that goes somewhere pretty and let’s you get out of the car, quickly point a camera in the direction of that prettiness before driving off to find some lunch.
And that is what we did. I sat in the back seat, the way I have on all our family outings. I stared out the window, the way I like to. My mom read the passing signs, the way she likes to. The sky was a bit hazy, so the picture taking was less than ideal, but inside the visitor center was a diorama, so that kind of made up for it, right? If not, the marionberry cobbler we had with our lunch made up for it. Kind of. It seems that given enough time, even the most dramatic places and the most dramatic events slide back into banality.
Which brings me to the fact that, before my parents arrived, I was anxious about them moving here. I was sure it was going to be a momentous change. They’ve been here for over three weeks now and almost nothing is different. We talk on the phone a little. My mother made us dinner at their new place the other night and we sat chatting around the table the way we always have. Whole days go by when I barely give a passing thought to the fact that they’re just down the street from me.
My parents are still my parents. The volcano is still a volcano. But for now, all is calm.