January is Over

Today’s been my best day since the inauguration, I texted a friend this evening. I want to write about what I did today and I don’t want to write anything about the Trump administration or the havoc it is wreaking on all of our lives (some more than others, of course) for at least 500 words. Here we go.

I woke up in Alley’s bed and luxuriated in the fact that Tuesday is my day off. I had a doctor’s appointment at 8:45am but even that didn’t bum me out, because I love my doctor and I feel lucky to be insured and it was just a yearly wellness check-up, nothing to stress out about. I found a parking spot easily when I got to the doctor’s office and the man who checked me in was kind and funny and my doctor herself was, per always, the best. Plus I’ve been paranoid that I have a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis so I asked them to do a swab test and it turns out I don’t have either, it’s just winter and dry skin can affect, um, all different parts of your body, so! That was a weight off my mind.

(Sidenote, while we’re all here – for those of you who use at home herbal/witchy remedies to deal with vaginal issues, can we just discuss for a second? First of all, do you prefer garlic cloves or boric acid or both or neither? And if you use garlic, how many days do you do the treatment and how frequently do you switch up your garlic clove? And finally, is there some secret magical cure you love that I’m not mentioning here? TELL ME EVERYTHING.)

Once my appointment was done I texted Kip to confirm that we were still hanging out today and we decided to go hiking in Forest Park. I didn’t realize that Kip had never been to Forest Park – he and Monique just moved here – and I was positively delighted to learn I would be accompanying him on his very first hike in the park! I stopped at home to grab my things (my “everyday outfit” is slowly but surely morphing into my “hiking outfit” so I barely had to make any changes – just picked up my raincoat because I always assume it could start pouring at any moment in Oregon, put on my Dirty Girl gaiters, not really because I needed them just because I love them, and packed some extra water in my pack) then drove to pick up Kip. The house he and Monique are renting is so beautiful and when I entered I was engulfed by the smell of smoky spicy incense and the sound of jazz coming from their record player and to be honest part of me wished we were just going to make a fire and curl up next to it with tea and musky smells and smooth tunes. But no, we were going to hike! So off we went.

I chose the Wildwood Trailhead right off Germantown Road to start our hike because I’m most familiar with that stretch of the Wildwood Trail and it’s become my default trail for when I want a low-key, stress-free hike that is really more of a glorified walk in the woods. There are definitely a few minor hills and such, but for the most part it’s pretty flat and manageable to hike while chatting. I told Kip how cool the Wildwood Trail is because it’s 30 miles and goes through the entire park, and he seemed suitably impressed (or maybe I was just projecting). We decided to walk about 4 miles total, so agreed to turn around at the 2 mile mark. And then we started hiking!

It’s really redundant to keep saying over and over, and if you read this blog religiously (thank you, loyal readers of which I believe there are about 7!) or speak to me ever, you have already heard me say the following, and yet! I will say it again: I love hiking! Hiking is magical, and healing, and special, and I am so grateful every goddamn day that I discovered that I like being outside in this specific way. I haven’t been saying this enough lately, amidst the sorrow and terror and anxiety I’ve felt every waking moment since January 20, so I will say it now and I will try to say it more often in the days to come: Thank you.

The forest was damp and quiet, and the trees held our movements and our chatter as we trotted down the path single file. “Have you ever seen anything like this neon green moss?” I asked Kip, and he shook his head. He had not. I loved watching him react to the forest, marvel over the fairy realm that I have grown accustomed to playing in whenever I please since moving here. He gasped over tiny waterfalls, a slug in the middle of the trail, a fallen tree with an incredibly thick trunk and a huge exposed intricate root system… “Monique is going to love this,” he said, and I felt so much joy for both of them.

We chatted almost non-stop for the duration of our hike. I love hanging out with a new friend; there’s a rush of excitement as you learn about each other, pick up on verbal patterns, observe body language…I suppose what I am describing is the act of building a new relationship. I do love it so.

One of the things we talked about was technology addiction. Specifically, mine. I confided that I suffer from it badly, often getting “lost” on the web for hours upon hours. That’s honestly one of the main reasons I love hiking – the trail is one of the few times I successfully disconnect. I know that technology itself is not the problem – I see Alley interact with technology in a perfectly healthy way, and I know many other people do as well – but I personally do not know how to do it. I try, and I make rules and boundaries that I attempt to follow, but ultimately the addiction remains. I’m looking forward to getting outside in a more permanent way soon, and am excited to see what the experience does for my tech addiction. I’m hopeful that it will curb the beast, at least for a time. We’ll see.

After walking and talking for about 3 miles, the clouds that had been threatening to break up finally parted and the long-suffering sun made an appearance, quickly turning the sky blue. We paused and looked up. I saw the trees silhouetted against the crisp sky and they reminded me of the outlines of trees I saw last Friday night on the lantern-lit forest walk ritual I participated in with a group of witches to celebrate the new moon in Aquarius. The trees, I thought to myself. They’re just always there. Witnessing.

I know, logically, they might not always be. I know the human species is not very good at recognizing the vitality of Mother Earth when it comes to our own survival (a thing I am not convinced we deserve – survival, that is). But in that moment, that is what I thought: The trees. They’re just always there. And I thought, I haven’t picked up my phone to glance at it in almost two hours. And I thought, I haven’t read a news headline or seen how a Facebook friend has reacted to it in almost two hours. And I thought, holy shit, I feel calm. For the first time in weeks, I feel okay.

And before I could feel guilty, or ashamed, or panicked, or any other negative emotion, I just lifted my face up to the sky and closed my eyes and thought to myself, Thank you. And then I opened my eyes again and Kip indicated he was ready to keep walking and so we did, all the way back to my car, and then we got in and I drove him home. And the sun just kept shining brighter and brighter, and the air was still crisp and cool but I was almost warm from moving my body so much, and when I pulled up in front of my house I grabbed my backpack and went for a walk around the neighborhood because I just couldn’t bear to go inside. I didn’t want to lose my feeling of calm. I knew it would have to leave at some point – we’ve got a resistance to run for the next four years, minimum – but I wanted to savor it for just a little while longer.

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