Aug 18, 2020

It may seem paradoxical that, being as hypochondriacal as I am, I’m liable to risk life and limb when it comes to taking on challenges of nature. If there’s a promontory, I have to walk out to the very edge of it—to Earl’s chagrin; he’s afraid the ground beneath me is going to give way. Or I’m apt to climb up rocks I’m going to have trouble getting down, with no tread on my Reeboks and not a hell of a lot of strength. Or to wade into powerful river currents that could sweep me away. I’d like to think I have a reasonably good sense of what to attempt and what not to, but… As a child I was a tomboy, a rough-and-tumble little girl, and sometimes, despite my physical limitations, she still holds sway.


On the phone, waiting for Earl to come up from his basement studio, Pippa—his roomer—tells me she loves the snapshot Earl took of me and my Reebok.

“’She has no fear,’ he says about you,” she confides.

“I used to have that photo on the Desktop of my computer,” I admit.

Then I tell her the whole story—how I tried, in my bare feet, to scale a huge rock on the cliffside of Stinson Beach after naively leaving my Reeboks on a ledge about four feet above the sand. I hadn’t clambered very far when a huge sneaker wave (a pun, I just realized) swept in and carried one of my shoes out to sea. “Fifty bucks down the drain!” I’d wailed tragically to Earl. But moments later, a second great wave carried it partway back. So of course I dashed out into the surf, knowing this would be my last chance to recover my investment. Earl snapped me at the moment I turned, white parka soaked to the neck, and triumphantly waved my rescued Reebok.

When Marga— from my Artist’s Way group—heard the story, she cried, “Oh, my God, Callie! You can’t do that! People are killed every year by sneaker waves. Next time, please remember I said I’d buy you another pair of Reeboks.”

OK, OK. I’ll try.