12/7/15 later in the day…
I got a call from Tony that everyone was in the van and about to leave around 4:30. Immediately after I hung up the phone saying I’d be there in a few minutes, barista boy was bounding up the stairs and asking about my life, what did I study?
He was covered in tattoos with a classic north pacific coast lumber jack beard, ponytail and a flannel shirt rolled up to his forearms.
I said had already graduated college actually, and I was from Kansas. He was like, no way, I’m from Missouri. He asked me where in Kansas, and I told him. And he said he used to date a girl from there. I told him I went to school in Lawrence, and he knew all about it. Except he called the jayhawks the bluejays. And then I asked him about his life, and he said he came out to Oregon when he was 23 to find his dad, and then found out he had a lot of family out here and stayed. He only works part time at the cafe, and has another job which I didn’t get a chance to ask about. He told me he had just recently come back to the country- that he had been living and working in Europe and Eurasia for the past few years. Recently back from Georgia.
I said I’d love to stay and chat, but I had to go. I got his number, and we are set to hang out in the next week or so. Though I’m not sure if that will ever happen or not, I love the idea that it could. My first local friend in Oregon. Of course he’d be from Missouri, though.
It was nice. It put a grin on my face for the next few hours.
Came back to camp, and Tony thought I was drunk because I was goofy grinning at him, gazing into his eyes the whole ride back.
Then Tony asked me if I had done my meditation for the day, he’s been on me about it every morning and evening. I said no, so he pulled out his meditation tape, and Jess, George, Tony and I pulled our sleeping mats in a circle and meditated for the next hour or so. We were all in and out of consciousness throughout the whole tour of our bodies and minds and breathing. And when it was over I was genuinely passed out. Woke up to Tony talking to me about it. Halfway through out conversation I realized that I was a part of it. I played mad catch up to act like I knew what was happening. He was telling me about how the tape came from a tribe in Alaska, I can’t remember the name, but I think it was the same tribe that Grandma and Grandpa came into contact with in Alaska this summer. Now sitting around a dead campfire and pretending to warm ourselves, and eating dinner.
Taking that time for yourself. Over break I need to de-stress, and make up a game plan now that I have gone with the flow for a few months and learned how this program works.
Needing to tell people I am going to bed, and going to take my time alone.
And needing to map out my day/week/term before going to bed every night.
And needing to learn to follow through on what I believe, what I feel like. Not what other people feel like. How do I feel?
Woke up this morning to my leader this morning squatting by my bedside, hovering over me and whispering my name.
You would think I would awake with a start the way I do back home, but for some reason whenever strangers wake me up, I don’t jump at all. I wake up smiling, take a calm second to realize what is happening, and then get out of bed and get dressed.
They woke me up around 8:58 for my meeting with them at 9. And we went out to the car, turned the heater on, and had our check in meeting.
Came back inside, filled up my mug with coffee, and made an elaborate cinnamon, peanut butter, brown sugar and almond milk bowl of oatmeal.
Last night we ran out of firewood, and Clint and I had to go get some.
It was probably one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve had since being here.
Drove up to where the fire was stored, and realized that we didn’t bring the key. So instead of driving we had to walk all the way up to get the firewood. At 11 pm at night, in the middle of the Oregonion woods.
It was near the main area of the park, so chances were good that nothing terrifying was lurking around the area, but you never know.
We made it up to get the firewood about half a mille away. Of course we didn’t bring a flashlight either, so it was in the pitch black dark- a clouded full moon shedding a little light on our venture.
Coming back with the wheelbarrow of firewood, I started getting cocky and confident in having conquered my fears. I was laughing and joking, and then all of the sudden there was a crash in the nearby bushes.
I fucking flipped out.
Grabbing onto Clint I yelled, what was that? And he was freaking out because I was freaking out. And he pulled the wheelbarrow in front of us, and grabbed my arm as I tried to make a run for the car. I was doing the exact opposite thing you are supposed to do in a potentially dangerous situation with a large animal in the woods.
I realized this, and stood still. We both put out our arms and started talking really loud.
“WHAT IS IT?” “WHAT IS IT?” “WHAT DO WE DO?” “WHAT IS IT?” “BUT WHAT DO WE DO?” “WHAT ARE YOU? SHOW YOURSELF” “DON’T SHOW YOURSELF! STAY BACK!”
A few minutes later, the thing moved again, and Clint said he saw that it was just a raccoon. I can’t see shit in the dark, so he could have just been bullshitting me to get me to calm down. I guess we’ll never know what the thing was. There’s a pretty large chance that it was a raccoon. But we could also just say that I came across Bigfoot in Silver Falls.
Let’s say I came across a Bigfoot.
And Bigfoot just walked away because he was disgusted by these loud talking, unintelligent humans. We weren’t even a challenge to scare. Or we weren’t open minded enough to talk to or give the time of day. Terrified little humans. Bigfoot probably sighed, “Not again.” All he wants is genuine interaction with the world, but the world is so jumpy he can’t connect with it.
Driving back we came across a massive deer with horns- or antlers? It just stood there, looking at us. I stopped the car at the stop sign, and shared a moment. Majestic life. Gazed into the deer’s eyes for a few minutes as it gazed into mine. What do you think it was thinking?
Have I told you about the rad girls on my team? Jess and Carinne have started a competition to see who can let their armpit hair grow the longest. Actually, we were all doing it for the first two weeks of camping, but I ended up shaving because we were only getting showers once or twice a week, and the less hair the better when that is the situation. Once I learned how to take my bird baths a few weeks ago though, I decided to join the club with a late start. We all stopped wearing bras as well. It’s just been a radical feminist’s dream tour of the pacific coast.
Talking to my leader this morning about our next project in California, and they were telling me that we’re going to have to go over some rules. Because we are not allowed to engage in the types of lifestyles that are going to be very prevalent where we are headed. We will be living in the emerald circle. Though Humbolt county is more well known, Mendocino county is more “connected.” All the hippies and all the activism, and all the legality now.
We are like the ugly step sister of the two teams. The rangers come in daily and play around and joke with the other team. And since we’ve been working outside of Silver Falls until now, we don’t know them so well. And don’t have much of a chance to get to know them super well in the next two weeks because they have already formed a amorous relationship with the other team.
Right now, my team is pacing around the room doing our own thing and quietly reading and getting dressed. But in the center of the room the other team is all sat around a table, interviewing a comedic park ranger about his job for the next hour or so. We’re all slightly listening to the interview, but have had no formal invitation to join. It’s just a really absurd dynamic. That I, as a quiet person, am enjoying. Being the ugly duckling gives you a unique perspective to observe. Or else just ignore everything and everyone else and do your own thing.
In Salem the rest of the day. We’ll see where it goes.