- All dates begin in the woods
- All dates end in the parking lot (where the hike began)
- All dates are singular (just like the first 68)
- You really can learn an awful lot about a person on a hike
- Not much eye contact is made on a hike if you are constantly moving
- When it is 23F you are constantly moving
- If your partner power walks through the woods the same way you power walk through NYC, this might not be a good fit
- Why do men in their fifties power walk through the woods without pause only to come to a dead stop in the middle of a wide open field where the wind chill has dropped the temp to approximately -10F and decide to look around, admiring the glory of Allah? (admittedly, the panoramic view was stunning, the dog was berserk, and we were both overheated enough to tolerate the outrageous drop in temperature for the five or ten minutes we stood still admiring the quaint New England undulating meadow end-capped by one of our more notable narrow back roads and cupped by a forest with very sprintable trails)
- Why do men in their fifties insist on hugging in the parking lot at the end of a date which was a hike which is not going to result in another hike and even if it were going to result in another hike I. Do. Not. Know. You. Fine, you may hug me; I'm not really that cantankerous; I just don't see any commonality here.
- There is no ten. I drove home, changed shoes, and dropped the three ibuprofen I should have taken before I left the house (anti-inflamatories are required in advance for hikes and dances longer than three miles and three hours respectively and five miles at a power walk required the ibuprofen FIRST. oops)
I notice I'm going through them like water again. Swipe left, swipe left, swipe left, yup, ok, YOU. Email, hello, nice profile, you are intriguing. Do you hike? Yes? Oh good, what are you doing on Saturday morning? My forest or yours?
Someone(s) does the same. Swipe left, swipe left, swipe left, ok, YOU. Email, hello, NICE photos. Do you want to have a drink. Delete. Try again. Email, hello, nice profile. Do you want to hike? My forest or yours? I think we'll try yours, I haven't been there before.
It's the double hikes that do me in. A five mile hike on a Saturday morning followed by a three mile hike (which was probably going to be five but I managed to head that off at the pass) on Saturday afternoon which ended with me not driving into the city to dance because I'd pounded myself into the frozen ground and I had to ask the question, Alecto, why aren't you slowing this down? Are you setting these guys up to fail? Is it possible they think they're pacing you?
I think I started out using the hike as an acid test which turned into a seemingly endless supply of single use playdates which became one of the greatest avoidance tools I've come up with to date. It struck me the other day when I realized it was nearly impossible to make eye contact if you are constantly moving. Even at a dead stop on the frozen tundra we (that might have been just me) were not making eye contact. I learned a lot about him because I asked all the 'right' questions. I learned nothing about him because I side stepped everything that might have required a vulnerable answer. Any possibility of letting my guard down was neatly skirted including my relationship history. I talked about numbers 1, 2, and 4 and only in the vaguest sort of way. Numbers 1 and 2 came up in relation to my kids and number 4 came up in the context of what I was doing in the north in the first place.
There's a guy with a user ID makes me think of The Low Anthem song, Charlie Darwin. I made a mistake, a really huge mistake with this song once very early in a relationship by sharing it with someone who heard something dramatically different than what I heard. Where I heard something haunting, beautiful, a reminder of what and who we are as human beings, he heard the most depressing expression of futility I think. I am cautious about how I approach this guy who refers to himself as a Darwin Fish because it would be so damn easy to single use playdate him and miss the possibility of who he is entirely. I mean, really, what if he didn't hate The Low Anthem? What if he listened to Charlie Darwin and didn't have fits because I couldn't come up with a suitable explanation for it? The problem is he's talking about a hike and it's his idea, not mine and I've pretty much decided hikes as first dates or whatever you want to call them are flat out ruinous.
To want something is to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to face disappointment or god forbid, some sort of hurt. I was sitting here on the couch last night alone in my house working an infinity scarf in a lace weight silk/wool blend and I looked around. I had the same experience I've had on more than one occasion when the house was empty: This house is too damn big. And another which I experience when I think about it which is not all that often but sometimes: Alecto, you really are pretty much alone out here, how do you feel about that, are you lonely? Nope. Not at all.
Elizabeth and I drove past a cluster of very small houses on the edge of town (like seriously the edge of town) right out on the state highway. These were once hunting lodges and are about as small as you'd expect for the most part and sitting on grandfathered (because we are two acre zoning) tenth of an acre lots backing right up against a very steep hill. One of the four houses cannot be more than six hundred square feet, if that (there's another which is smaller and still on the market but it's a tear down). It has a main room you walk right into through the front door with a fieldstone fireplace, a very small bedroom to the right and a nook of a kitchen to the left. Someone actually bought it but before they did I got a good look at the posted photographs. Elizabeth, I said, I want to live in that house. I would prefer that it be situated a bit further into the woods but I could probably live with that if I could clear enough in the back for garden sunlight. She was scandalized.
Where would you put visitors?
Mom! Don't you want to see people?!
Sure. Why not. I'll have some chairs.
Mom! What if we want to visit you. Where will we sleep?
You can have my bed, I'll sleep on the chairs. Or maybe a futon. Hell, I don't know, we'll work something out.
Mom! People just don't do this!
Elizabeth. Yes they do.
Mom. What are you going to do with all your stuff.
(laughing) Elizabeth, I'm going to get rid of it.
Mom. What about some guy's stuff?
That's his problem.
And the story I started writing back when Lucia was very small which went more or less like this:
The woman lived in the forest in a very small cottage which was as big as it needed to be with a small kitchen garden and a small front door which was only visible when she wanted it to be. The cottage was full of books with a place to read in a large sunny window. There was a table and there were chairs and things hanging from the rafters. There was one bed and one rocking chair by the fireplace. Creatures came and creatures went but nothing was permanent in the very small cottage but the woman with the small kitchen garden and the small front door which was only visible when she wanted it to be.
There are many versions of that story, some are just a paragraph, some are many pages but they all started about the time Lucia was born and continued until shortly before #4 although just because I didn't write the story anymore doesn't mean it actually went anywhere.
Swipe left? Or adapt.
I still cry when I hear this, by the way. I think it's probably been four years since it blew up in my face and that wash of raw emotion got irrevocably mixed into my original experience of the song but sometimes you get what you get and you adapt or get stuck in it. I'd rather adapt and not lose the music, muddled or otherwise. Along the same lines, despite my possibly futile resistance, I expect I'd rather get what I get and adapt then lose the music and harmony of acquired intimacy. I suppose it's really just a question of when I'm likely to get out of my own way. I still cry when I hear this...