Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Right Place, Right Time?

So, after Lindsay recommended them several months (years, maybe) ago, I finally caved and ordered Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed AND Something Blue. I started reading Something Blue (Linds recommended I read them in reverse) this afternoon, and finished it...about five minutes ago. Guess I was right about reading the chick lit books first. Oh well. I loved it, it made me smile, and got me thinking about how things work out, how they don't. Story time!

So I had Monday off, yet another uncharacteristically nice day here in The Great Northwest. My friend Khalil and I took an early morning walk and went to breakfast( which was awesome, thank you darlin!), and when I got home I puttered around a bit wondering what to do with myself for the remainder of the day. I decided on a hike. In the scenic little town of North Bend, about 40 mins east of Seattle, there is Mt. Si. In its shadow is Little Si, a smaller and less challenging version. This was the mountain I planned to hike. I had my water bottle, my apple, my iPod, and my camera. When I arrived at the trailhead, there was no parking. I considered abandoning the whole plan and going home to watch TV, but decided to keep driving. I reached the "Big Si" parking lot shortly thereafter, which was decidedly less populated. It was already 1:30, and I had no idea how long this hike was supposed to take, just that for the unseasoned hiker, it's considered to be difficult. My strategy was to start on the trail, keep an eye on the sun, and if it looked like I was in any danger of not making it to the car before dark, I'd turn back. About half a mile in, I was bored, lonely, and not seeing anyone else on the trail, very seriously considered the possibility of being eaten by a cougar. Well, I considered the threat of bears too, but reasoned that they MUST be hibernating.

So screw this, I said, and turned back down. On the way down I was greeted rather enthusiastically by a Golden Retriever. His owner apologized, and the words just flew out of my mouth "It's okay, I have one too!"--I don't. I have a yellow lab who is part retriever. Not quite the same thing. But for some reason I was just desperate to have something in common with him. He was rather handsome. Unfortunately, he was soon joined by a woman I assumed to be his girlfriend. All that lying for nothing! He said he had noticed me in the parking lot and knew I couldn't have been all the way to the top and back, right? I resisted the urge to blurt out "Fuck no!!" and explained my situation. He said I was welcome to join them, and if we made it to the top and it started getting dark he had a flashlight, and I wouldn't be alone. I agreed, instantly.

Turned out the woman with him was not as into hiking as he, and she walked behind us, so I talked mostly to him until she finally decided she would keep going at her own pace, and let us walk ahead. We continued talking, and found out that despite our substantial age difference, we had a lot in common. Somewhere between miles 2 and 3 he revealed that the woman he was with was NOT in fact his girlfriend. This got my attention. But we just talked and walked, and finally made it to the top, walking the last mile or so on the snow. Had I been alone, I would have bitched, incessantly. We just chatted, it went by fairly quickly. We reached the top, and it was STUNNING. This photo doesn't do it justice, and I'm hoping to receive more via e-mail, but SEE???

My supposed athletic prowess turned to crap on the way down. I fell on my ass several times. I was so afraid of falling again that I all but tiptoed down the mountain, despite the fact that it was, actually, getting dark. He had to bust out that flashlight after all, and we were literally hiking through the woods, in the dark. It was comical. He let it slip that this was kind of like our first date. I agreed. Wasn't planned, but it turned out to be a better first date than I'd been on in a long time.

I don't know if I'll even see this person again, but I spent a good four hours alone with him (and his golden retrievers, like the one I DON'T have) and had this meandering, comfortable conversation. It was just NICE. But it got me thinking, and I believe more and more that everything does happen for a reason. Most days I wouldn't drive 40 mins to go hiking alone. Most days I would have turned around and given up at the first stop. I might have just kept going alone, and possibly never crossed their path, or I could have just smiled and nodded and continued on my way. But I didn't. And it was SO worth it. Even if just for the view, and the fact that I had a conversation and was able to be myself and have someone appreciate it. And I cannot tell you how much I needed that. Has that ever happened to anyone else? Have you ever had an experience that you knew was just supposed to happen?

By the way, fingers crossed that this guy doesn't stumble on this blog and discover me rambling on about this. I'd be mortified, and then some.

Anyway, it is SO time for bed, but it is kind of a strange and comforting thought, not knowing what tomorrow brings, yes?

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