First entry, featuring alligators

So I’ve been here in Miami for over a week now, as I have the kind of job (you know, the low paying kind, without benefits) that allows me to take time off if I don’t mind not getting, like, paid or anything. It’s been nice. The weather is gorgeous in that Miami-in-winter way, I’ve had a great time with my mom, and everything in Seattle seems to have sort of faded away until I go back. And I made a great tiramisu for Christmas Day. All in all, a lovely vacation thus far.

My boyfriend Carl came in early in the morning on the 26th. Last Christmas we went for a three day kayak trip in the western part of the Everglades…not the River of Grass part, but the lots-of-little-islands-with-tons-of-horseshoe-crabs-everywhere part. I wanted to concentrate on being more in Miami this time and seeing friends and hanging out with Mom, so instead of an actual overnight camping type deal trip, we just drove out to Shark Valley yesterday, for to see some various Evergladesy stuff.

Have you been to the Everglades? Yes? So you know that it’s a very endangered habitat, it’s The Only Everglades In The World, it’s really pretty amazing. I can’t believe I grew up here and hadn’t ever been to Shark Valley. It’s a little outpost of Everglades National Park and…wait. Wait a minute. This is a story about alligators, and scrolling back, I see no scaly reptilian evidence whatsoever in this thus far quite overblown entry. I can see that it’s going to be a challenge here not to write the way I talk. Okay. I was just so worried that you haven’t been to the Everglades and therefore might miss some of the richly textured details of this intensely important story I have yet to tell.

Okay. So. We’re walking along the road, which is in fact a paved road which has a lot of bikers on it and occasionally a tram full of crying babies and folks with cameras. We’ve been walking along for about an hour, and have come to the point where we’re pretty much tripping over big alligators on the side of the road, and have stopped oohing and aahing over every single little clutch of baby alligators. In fact it took us an hour to walk the first half mile of this road because we kept going “Anhinga! Look, it’s got a fish stuck on its beak! Ha!” and flinching whenever we saw a bunch of folks daring each other to touch the sleeping alligator’s tail, Bob! Come on, it’ll be a great picture! We’d dwindled down to pointing vaguely and going “Gator over there” in nonchalant, living-dinosaur-weary voices. But then…

See, all of the alligators were kind of pointed away from the road, if you can imagine a paved road right next to a shallow canal. So they can get away should someone want to feed them a sandwich and get their hand bitten off. But not this one. This one was pointed towards the road, i.e. pointed towards me and my bare legs and Tevas. When I walked by it, it all of a sudden STOOD UP on its legs and glared at me. I promise this was more nerve-wracking than it sounds. You know, because they lay very still with their eyes closed and you can fool yourself into believing you’re at a zoo or something, and there are so many of them, and it’s just not a big deal. But no!

I scooted by it and we kept walking for a while, with me all the time going “But I didn’t do anything! I wasn’t going to hurt it! I’m sorry, Mr. Alligator! Please don’t kill me!” When we turned around and got back to that very same alligator, it was now inched up onto the pavement and it had its mouth open. A woman on the bike was already stopped several feet from it, and when it saw us all there, it said:

“Hey there. See my teeth? Do you see any flat grinding teeth with which to munch up plant life? No? Wait, you see many many sharp incisor-type deals, the better to hold you, struggling, in my Jaws of Death while I remove your various appendages in a leisurely fashion? You do? That’s right, folks. I’m a carnivore, in fact a predator, and you are WAY THE HELL TOO CLOSE.”

We were going to try to inch by it and then, you know, run the rest of the way home. Carl took the lead, with me and the bicycle lady cowering behind. He took one step and the gator did that thing where it stood up on its legs again and this time, it took a step forward. The better to rip off his leg, I think. So we all backed up and were prepared to wait him out, I guess, on the six-foot-wide strip of pavement, with the reptile that’s six feet long and can run 25 miles an hour. This other guy on a bike came from the opposite direction, and as we’re all yelling “Give that gator some room!” he just sort of bikes by. At that point the gator got up again and started towards us, during which time I said a prayer to make my peace with the Lord…but it just turned around and went into the canal, at a speed which belied its cold blooded nature. We all fainted for a while, and then ran all the way home to some very yummy turkey and spinach lasagna made by my mom, which made me feel much better. The End.

Here’s the luxury of starting this journal: I’m totally free to write a very long pointless story like this, and it totally doesn’t matter. Grammar, punctuation, plot…none of it matters. Later, of course, it will be different. There will be the fans hounding me to update, the cruel email, the JournalCon celebrity appearances, friends getting upset about stuff I’ve written here, the rumors of selling out. But right now, I have all the time in the world to spin out my little tale of intrigue and glamor, right?

Coming soon on Ampersand: Chiara figures out how to do more template stuff, gives props to journals and journallers that are actually good, reflects on The Need To Talk About Myself Constantly. Forthcoming titles are sure to include the following: Seattle Is Cold, I Sure Have A Lot Of Student Debt, and I Hate My “Job.” Until then I will be dreaming of more unfunny non-stories to tell, and being glad that I finally started this after thinking about it for so long.

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