Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Day 89: Beach Camping, A Steady Sensation of Butterflies to Bellingham

On the ferry back to the mainland (Seattle) from beach camping, I asked him to hug me as if we'd known one another longer than just five days. "Aww. Do you not feel good?" he teased, having just confessed my unease about leaving to him.

"I'm really anxious and I don't know why. This keeps happening when I leave somewhere and I don't like it, but I can't stay."

The first month of this trip was rough in moments because I was always moving; no time to breath. I thought this portion, in its slow down, would be easier. It is. And it also isn't. To my surprise, when I leave a city I've acclimated to and say goodbye to people that I know, it gets a little harder each time. Perhaps it's that I enjoy myself more and more as time goes on and I know this lifestyle can't last forever; the time ahead growing shorter than the time behind. Perhaps it's that I'm leaving a stationary spot of comfort I've dug for myself in a life now always moving. I'm not sure, but either way my anxiety grows a little more each time I leave: A steady sensation of butterflies.

It doesn't make sense, but at this point I've learned I just need to pull off the band-aid and leave. Once I'm back into my hatch home alone, with the road and my best friend, Music, I feel more at ease. This weird exiting anxiety is a sensation I find hard to reason or understand. So let's talk about how I ended up asking a stranger for a hug on a ferry because I was anxious to leave where I had grown fond of, after a night of beach camping, shall we?

The night Thom and I met, after I told him what I had been doing for the past few months, he was excited and exclaimed that we should do a beach camping photoshoot for his company of which I'd be the subject. Naturally, I said yes, somewhat flattered and also highly doubting this was going to come to fruition past tipsy talk. Regardless, to my surprised, he followed through with the beach camping part - although the photoshoot thing seemed to take a back seat. He had his son on and off, so we settled on Monday. And by settled, I said "Okay, I'll stay and extra day," as I was originally going to take off on Sunday. I had never been beach camping before and it sounded wonderful and glamorous and fun.

We planned to leave at 2pm. And at 12:30 on Monday, he texted to ask if we were still on for 1:30/2. "Well, 2, yes," although I knew damn well I wasn't going to make it as I had just gotten up and had a bunch of shit to do, now including the tasks he assigned with the time bump including: dinner and "a shit ton of firewood." With my car packed, it was difficult to put a "shit ton of wood in there" so that also took time. I wasn't on my way until 2:30. I texted him to let him know I was going to be late and received a surly response in return.

"Really, " I responded unsure if he was being serious . He was, I continued. "I would like you to calm down." When I arrived at 3:10, he was throwing a fit. We both hadn't eaten all day but I dug through my pack and pulled out some peanuts while we sat in traffic. He bitched about the traffic; I apologized; he bitched more. I went quiet and he said something else, to which I responded, "I'd like you to not talk to me." After that, while, waiting in line for the ferry, we were so at odds and he made me feel so awful, that I said we should just turn around and forget it. Immediately, he agreed and began to try to pull to the right. I had to stop him and announce how fucking dumb that was before he got back in line.

Soon after, we entered the ferry in his ridiculously decked out Land Rover. It was the sample car he used for his company and it looked it. Every dumb thing you could put on an off-road camp vehicle was slapped on this thing, logo included and people were staring. This lightened the mood slightly. I got out to take a photo of the Seattle skyline at dark (which didn't come out well at all) and he joined me. We walked around the side and he was lightly still giving me shit about being an hour late when suddenly it occured to me, "Wait!" I said, intteruppting him, "You were 4 hours late for our first date! And I didn't give you shit about it." Immediately he quieted.

"Oh," he said, suddenly shy, "That's right."

"I think that makes us just about square," I rightly announced, suddenly feeling as if I just grabbed the upper hand and made it my bitch.

"Ya, I suppose it does," he said as he held out his hand to shake in compromise.

"Actually, you still owe me about three hours..."

"Don't push it," he responded tersely, "We're even."

"Fine," I relented, then asked if he wanted to get back in that warm truck. 

Shortly after, the ferry docked and we headed to Safeway for a few things and more wood before heading to the campsite - which wasn't as magical as I imagined, by the way: It was a campsite about 20 yards off of the beach. He set up the roof-top tent and went to work trying to light a fire he couldn't seem to start. I asked if he needed help and he told me he'd made hundreds of fires so no, he didn't. Ten minutes and a number of curses later, I asked if I could give it a go. Moments later, we had a fire going. I was proud of myself. And he was slightly annoyed.

So, I went to go make dinner. Chicken (a rotisserie one we'd just picked up at Safeway - I paid for the groceries since I'd kept the change from our first interaction. New net: $40) and leftover salad items I had from the house in Carnation. We sat around the fire, eating. Then we had cocktails and he 'surprised' me with Dark and Stormies, one of my favorites. I was delighted. Things were looking up, as we drank around the fire, chatting and playing musical chairs with smoke.

After a couple of more cocktails, we somehow got on the discussion of marriage (as a general, not between us). He decided after his divorce in February, that he would never marry again because it was a horrible institution. While I'm not certain I want to be married legally (a commitment ceremony would be nice) because I think that once people have a piece of paper that ties them to one another, one or both parties stop trying because it no longer becomes a choice every morning. However, I would like to think of it still as a possibility for me. So it gets old when every divorced person talks about how horrible marriage is to people that were self-aware enough to wait for the right person. And I am directly in the middle of seriously hoping that that person for me is still out there - waiting as patiently and intent on finding them as I am.

After trying to calmly change the subject ineffectively, I got pissed at him for shitting all over marriage. "Just because it didn't work out for you doesn't mean you have to shit talk it to the rest of us who still hope one day to perhaps engage in it. You're ruining it. So stop. Stop being so damn negative."

"Well, maybe we should just leave," he responded like a child whose opponent wouldn't let him win Chutes and Ladders.

"Fine," I decided to act as ridiculous as him because OH MY GOD get it together, Thom, you are 36 years old and a father stop acting like your three year old child!

(he threw some powder shit in the fire that made it blue)
He began to take down the roof top tent and put everything away. I thought about my options for that evening. They basically boiled down to sleeping in my car or heading back to Carnation and having to explain the whole fiasco to my host family and missing the beach camping experience. Also there were s'mores yet to be had. (And I love s'mores.)

With my proverbial tail between my legs, I walked up in my most pious and pitiful voice and said, "I don't want to go." Who can resist that? Especially for a man who loves to win and be right and is apparently very much in his own head.

"Are you going to fight with me anymore," he poised, talking down to me, both figuratively and literally.

"No," I said, swallowing my pride for the sake of my own personal interests in the matter - and also not wanting to quarrel or end a delightful little slice of time with someone over such a stupid series of events. In the end, I figure, his opinion on the subject shouldn't matter.

From there, the rest of the evening was copacetic and about an hour later - after some s'mores, we decided to retreat from the cold into the car tent. I awoke in the morning, ill - though not hungover - meaning I had to shuffle out of my tent prior to sunrise to visit the facilities. This afforded me the opportunity to witness the sunrise. It was amazing over Puget Sound, with a view of the city and Mt. Rainier. I also came upon a beautiful (and obnoxious) woodpecker going to town on a tree as I walked around the park just after sunrise, before I headed back to the tent.

I came back to camp and, because I was up so early, I pretty exhausted. I got back in the tent with Thom. He stayed there for another hour and then left the tent to do - who cares. At this point, he put on some music, the sun was out (even though it wasn't supposed to be) and I took the opportunity to hang my head out of the tent and shower myself with the sun while my body stayed bundled up. Here I took a light nap, which Thom captured on his phone in a video (below) which I came to greatly appreciated when he showed me because I have had few times that I have ever felt so completely and absolutely content in a moment. Unfortunately, my euphoria was interrupted when he told me it was time to go: He had to get into work. So, I ambled out, wiped my face, we packed up, and headed to breakfast before catching the ferry to float back over to the mainland.

On the ferry back is where I met with the fast, flitting steady sensation of butterflies in my stomach I began this entry with. Thom was a little comforting and, despite the hiccups, it was a good time and we ended on good terms. I still liked him. And I thanked him when we returned to my car, gave him a kiss and a hug, and headed on my way, anxious and nervous and attempting to calm a fit a butterflies as, again, I left a place of comfort and was, again, about to become totally alone.

Finally grabbed that skyline photo I failed at the night before on the ferry back.

After leaving Thom around 2pm, I drove about an hour north and stopped at a Ross for - nothing really, but to perhaps clam the flutter in my belly. I then drove another half an hour north and stopped just short of the border. I didn't want to cross the border in the dark. I don't know why; maybe I'm weird. (I'm probably weird.) Hotels were out of range and I decided to try my luck at a rest stop. When I parked, I noticed people oddly spaced out and window covers on many cars. My brethren again; I wouldn't be the only on sleeping here. So, in the rain, I turned my car into a bed. And, unwilling to get out of the car, had little can of dollar store tuna salad for dinner in the back. I pissed around on Tinder to waste some time and ran across a guy who appeared to work in Antarctica wth a lifelong friend of mine, Nathan. I matched and messaged him to ask he knew Nathan. He messaged back and I said we just had to get together and take a photo and tag him in it for shits in giggles. He concurred and we decided to meet up on Friday because he's going to Arizona on Saturday. And, like music to my ears, said, "You're welcome to sleep on my couch. Any friend of Nathan's is a friend of mine." I agree and now I have date-ish Friday for a comedy club (I've never been to one) and a free place to stay.

Now that's what I call a productive day. Off to bed. Tomorrow, we go international!

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