This one is from the camping trip this past weekend.
So there was this girl…
Yes, I know that most of my stories start this way, and I know that I am obsessed with women, beauty, sexuality and the constant quest for a girlfriend / relational / life partner. That will resolve itself pretty soon, I am almost certain. Things are starting to fire on all cylinders. Things are starting to align. The keys, really, are community and friends. There is security in companionship. For the past 8 months I’ve been a bull in a china shop, coming into events like a tornado, completely flying solo, the “wild card” who walks up and says hello to everybody but who nobody knows (or expected to be there). So there are trust issues. But these days, I am surrounded by a bunch of competent, successful, healthy & powerful people who know me and vouch for me, and that insanely strengthens my presence and power and ability to get real with strangers. So with that preface…
There was this girl. I had met her two nights prior at a birthday party. She was hands down the prettiest girl there, which is why I intentionally ignored her until an hour later when, “accidentally,” we were both the only two people foraging at the food table.
I pretend to just notice her, surprised:
“Oh hi! Who are you?…” and so it begins.
She tells me her name is Britt.
She tells me that she is an Actress / Singer / Songwriter (just starting out, four movies under her belt, 1st album in production). That her ancestry is 3/4 Egyptian, 1/4 Italian. She is sporting a very modern asymmetrical black dress with white piping that highlights her curves in a very classy way. Stunning.
Just some brief conversation. first intros and all that.
“This is who I present as…”
“Got it; this is what I think I have in common with you;
this is how I can relate to your experience…
this is who I present as…” etc.
There is a horrible ratio at the party (14 guys, 3 girls), and it is moving into the pot-smoking-on-the-porch time, so I go ninja-style & cross the Rubicon of bodies to Britt-on-the-couch, make physical contact, say a quick goodbye, and bounce. Who knows if I’ll ever see her again?
Fast forward 48 hours.
I spontaneously decide to make an insane trek with LadyBug to the High Mojave Desert to join some friends on a weekend camping trip. A simple 120 mile drive, ascending from sea level to a 6000′ high desert plateau, with an increase from 70° (beach) to 105° fahrenheit (desert)… Ladybug overheats about 6 times and has more than one near-death experience along the way. I melt 3 entire bags of ice on her engine, barely cooling her enough… even after sitting still for a full hour in the shade, I can still cook an egg on her. Six hours post-departure, we turn onto the unpaved access road. The final 5 miles is all uphill 4×4 trails with hairpin turns, and the vibrations shake her to the very bones.
Fuck it. We persevere:
We arrive at the campsite in a massive cloud of backlit dust just as the sun sets on the horizon. I hoot and holler and jump out of the car. People are staring… what the fuck is that [car]? Andreas shows me my tent that they’ve already set up for me. I drop my bag inside the door, and just as I look up, the door of the tent next to me zips open.
Who do you think pops out?
Well, gawd dayam. Like old friends. We are surprised and delighted to see eachother in this magical wonderland. Turns out, this is her first “campout” ever (I have not broken it down to her yet that this style of “glamping” is not exactly “camping”… we’ll get there, in time.)
Shortly after meeting everyone, I am encouraged to draw a card from one of the many available divination decks. These are modern re-imaginations of the tarot, a series of cards with names, symbols, meanings and metaphors.
I close my eyes, trust my instincts, and draw out a card:
The Divine Feminine.
Of course. I feel like the Goddess herself — Sofia, co-creatrix of the Universe — is watching over me, manifesting for me, materializing right in front of me in the form of amazing women, and within me as my inner intuition, my inner feminine.
Britt & I keep it casual for the first day. I’m actually more energetically attracted to her friend, Nini, and mentally progress along that direction for a bit until I realise that Nini is in so many ways a wonderful little girl (24 y.o.) and Britt, on the other hand, is a woman. Because I am blessed, I end up sandwiched between the two of them in a cuddle puddle anyways, Britt on my right and Nini on my left. Still 100% platonic at this point, to be clear.
Britt approaches sleep and I open my eyes and stare at her face, a mere 12 inches away from mine, in fleeting moments. Such angelic, classical beauty. I close my eyes for long periods, skirting the edge of dreams, trying to sleep but unable. Once, upon opening my eyes, I catch her looking at me. What does she see? I wonder… Quiet intimacy.
That night, at moonrise, we set out on the long trek through the high desert to the hot hot springs.
The trail rapidly devolves into some pretty sketch terrain, steep slopes and a very narrow path along a cliff with gneiss-gravel-rock that crumbles, slips and slides with every step. Somehow I end up immediately in front of Britt, with Nini taking point ahead of us. Honestly, that wasn’t my plan at all. Yet there I found myself. Britt is slipping badly and starts to freak out a little. She blew out her knee earlier that day in the martial arts sparring session and is using a walking stick, heavily favoring her right leg. Not an ideal situation for this 7 mile mountain hike.
After a few close calls, I offer my hand, bracing her descent on a particularly slippery slope. It’s a good grip we have – solid contact and stable. I assure her I won’t let her fall, or if she does, I’ll catch her. She doesn’t let go. So we end up hiking 2 miles hand in hand with a very firm grip. An acro grip, in fact. And we converse. And learn a bit more about eachother.
The sun has set. The full moon is rising.
I’m in God’s Country, pristine wilderness. The air is crisp and so clean and alive. I’m holding hands and talking with a beautiful rising star. I’m starting to get the feels.
An hour or so in, as Britt slides and I brace her firmly again, a vision enters my head and I start to laugh uncontrollably. She looks at me, so I explain:
“I just had this vision — don’t worry, it’s not a manifestation — of you falling, and holding on, then me falling, and I catch the limb of one of these little trees, and we’re they’re hanging off the edge of the cliff, just like in the movies, hand in hand, and I’m yelling: “Don’t… let… go!””
She shares my words-to-visual ideation and breaks out laughing too. A good sign.
The slope flattens. We have made it to the floor of the valley. High five.
The dude ahead of us, who has been here once before, says: “allright, now for the river crossing.” I’m thinking, there is a ford or something… you know, rocks with a few inches of water, get your feet wet. I look where he is pointing. There is a rope tied tight shore to shore, hovering about 2′ above the river’s surface. And I see two human heads & shoulders, one holding a backpack above their head… walking across the river, 4′ deep. HAHAAHA! Now *that’s* a proper river crossing! Awesome!
It is now dark, Venus has risen. The full moon illuminates like a perfect, dimmed spotlight. We strip down to our undergarments, wade into the cool mountain stream, and begin the crossing. We make it across without stumbling, submersion or drowning. As we get to the other side, the water becomes warmer and warmer. Nice!!! Scrambling up the rocks, we put our feet into a puddle. Its easily 110 degrees. AWESOME! There are a series of 6 or 7 interlinked natural pools on the east side of the river, each at a different temperature. Britt and I descend into the deep end of the hot pool. Mother Nature’s hot tub. I am fully in my feels now. I have an inspiration.
I reach around my neck and unclasp my necklace, an amulet with a tree crafted of silver, with leaves made of polished turquoise rocks. I’ve just finished massaging Britt’s forearms and hands, so I place her hands in a cup, and place the amulet in her hands. I tell her:
“I want you to have this. I’m your tree. You’re not going to fall. And if you do, you just grab and hold on tight. My roots run deep, and my limbs are strong.”
She starts to cry. Its beautiful, happy tears. She asks me to put it on her. As strange as it sounds, I’m not sure I’ve ever put a necklace that I’ve gifted on a woman’s neck before, other than my wife. Such a primal gesture. Somehow, weirdly, I feel like I am expressing some form of ownership. Like, “This is my girl. She wears my chain.” We’re half naked, in the pool, in a deep embrace, looking eye to eye. I move in for the kiss. She deflects, as a woman will do, especially when surrounded by community, who are all watching us now. I will not accept that. I tell her, “Kiss me, you fool!” She shakes her head. Uh oh. But I have an inspiration to save the day, and the vibe. I smile and point to my cheek. She nods. Gives me a super sweet kiss on the cheek. There are other members of our tribe in the pool, all around us. A cheer goes up. That’s how it works. My heart swells.
That accomplished, girl needs a little air. And so do I. It was getting waaay too hot there. She climbs with her girlfriends to the next pool, and I climb up the rock wall, leap and dive straight into the deep, cold, utterly refreshing stream. A total rush, straight from the hot to the cold.
Water! Nature! Air! Life! Bliss! I am ALIVE!
NOTE: That entire story was supposed to be a brief one paragraph narrative about how Britt and I made it down the mountain and bonded as a prelude to the amusing next chapter. I may have gotten a bit carried away with the level of detail. And yet I wanted to communicate what actually happened, both the events and the energies.
An hour or so passes.
We give eachother space. The chemistry is there, but it is the wrong setting for deep intimacy. We are in community. Most of our tribe is in the same pool, rubbing toes and thighs and sharing in a rolling conversation. We sing some songs, do some communal prayers and sharing. Its sweet. Our tribe is not the only group who has made the journey this night. Two nubile and very naked Swedish girls flying on mushrooms briefly distract me, but soon grow bored and wander off onto their own sidequest.
Eventually, we are all sufficiently relaxed and cooked and refreshed and it’s time to head back the long hike to camp. We ambulate out of the pools, gather up our things, and cross the cool rushing river again.
[…here comes the crux]
Just as I step on shore, there — right in front of me — is a stunningly beautiful (I know I say that a lot, and I do not exaggerate) and strikingly tall woman in a halter top, a running skirt, and tevas… planted in a stance of total confidence, breathing slightly heavily.
(yes, that’s actually Camille. her day job is modelling for REI & Nike)
I walk up and say hello. (when boldly emerging from the wild water, you have to say hello to the first woman you see, be it surfing in the ocean or crossing a moonlit river at midnight). She smiles a wonderful smile, and says enthusiastically “Hi, I’m Camille!” and when I offer my hand for a cordial shake, she extends her arms wide, so we share a sweet hug. How natural. How wild.
“How did you get here?” I ask.
(I’m not quite sure why I asked that, but it was really just the first thing that came to mind, because it was dark, and, from my perspective: I waded out of the cool running river, stepped up onto the moonlit beach, and here, right here, is this angel, emerging out of the darkness to greet me). And she’s got… LEGS. In fact, she and I are identical height : five-ten. I see her eye to eye.
“Oh, I just drove from LA to meet y’all, and the camp was empty, so I did a little trail run to get here.”
WUT??!? “You mean, you RAN that whole trail, in the dark?”
“Sure! That’s my job. I teach girls how to hike, camp and rock climb. Easy.” (pause. I stare. I’m temporarily shocked. My jaw might have literally dropped. I am, rarely and in this moment, speechless. She reads me.) “Well, okay, not total dark. There was the moon, and I had a headlamp for the shadow stretches…”
She’s not lying. And she’s only telling half the truth. That’s her non-profit work.
Now, my mind does a backflip and I feel a little terrible about it. I supported a cripple Britt all the way down the mountain, and we pair bonded, and it is her very first time camping, first time in the wilderness, and she was a little scared (reasonably so) of falling down a cliff while limping down that sketchy trail in the twilight. So she was in need and I provided support. And I put my chain on her.
Now here is this superwoman who effortlessly ran the whole hike that we labored, and barely broke a sweat, giving me a hug and exuding total natural confidence and joy. What a contrast. In that millisecond, I think: “I don’t need Britt at all, I need something like this.” I know it’s terrible. We can’t help our thoughts sometimes. Camille and I do the introductory conversation dance. I’m fascinated. I totally ignore Britt, 12′ behind me. But I also gave Britt my necklace, and I had promised her that if her knee wouldn’t handle the hike back, that I’d fireman carry her back to camp. And as that thought slowly surfaces, I know I have to go back to her. My Word is my Bond. I am True to my Word. So with some reluctance, I bid farewell to Camille, and find Britt. Perfect timing. We set out on the trail back to camp together, in the middle of our fellowship.
[ That was the punchline of the story. Bonding with Britt and then running head on into Camille and wondering what the fuck I am doing and who I am and can I ever actually choose one woman or will I be forever muppeting and looking at the next thing and imagining how much better that would be… which could be a personal problem and is something I am going to do some serious meditation on…]
Britt has changed into her pajamas for the hike back, some baggy white corduroy pants and a matching crop top with a hood. She has a warm LED candle poking out of her backpack for gentle illumination. She looks like a fashion model, in her Prada. (Its Alo, actually, but same thing…. it sure ain’t Patagonia) Watching Britt walk briskly with her tall walking stick, and seeing the line of adventurers up and down the trail with their myriad glowing lights, I am transported to a feeling. Its the Lord of the Rings.
moonlight reflecting on the riverbed on the trek back to camp
We are on a journey, a quest. I tell Britt “You are adorable. Like a little female Gandalf, all in white, hiking with your magic staff.” I don’t realise until I say it that she might take it the wrong way, comparing her to a wrinkly old fantasy wizard. But instead, she gets it, and lets loose a deep hearty laugh that once again melts my heart. We’re good.
to be continued…