Sunday, June 27, 2010

It’s not that it’s death

Pablo Point, California
2.0 miles

At the edge of the manzanita

I’m in the woods again, burning an illegal fire. It’s awesome. I attended the last wedding event this morning, a brunch, checked out of the amazing, cheap-for-San-Francisco-but-still-too-expensive-for-me Bay Landing Hotel, loaded my backpack, and drove out to Point Reyes National Seashore, where I am going to wander around for a week.

I’m theoretically drifting up the California Coast Trail, following the coast around the point, because it’s the best part of the coastal trail that I have good maps for. I’m stealth camping, which according to the CCT website is allowed. So I was dropped off on the side of the road by my dad and mom, dropped off to be picked up again in a week, dropped off with nothing but my wits and my backpack, what I have been longing for since April.

Tonight dinner was a tuna steak and lemongrass-kaffir lime leaf pilaf, bought from Trader Joe. The tuna steak was deep-frozen and just melted enough by the time I made it to my campsite to be perfect over my little, mini, Indian fire, made in the hole of an old stump, far from the manzanita. A fantastic treat for the first night on the trail. I spent $45 for trail food for a week, half the price of one night in my fancy hotel.

I do love people, and my family, and I’m happy that I invested the energy and the time and money to be out here to support my brother, but endless social events and the small talk they bring forth make me miserable. I feel so unable to communicate honestly, to really connect with people. It’s making me glad to be out here in the woods instead, even though I wasn’t really psychologically prepared for it, after the shock of the big city.

Also I have this feeling of doing San Francisco, a new city to me, incorrectly. I’ve read travel books compulsively since I was a small child. There’s an excruciatingly cute cassette tape of me at the age of six, reading Walt Disney promotional materials aloud to my siblings, forcing them to comment on each elaborate description in turn. When I accompanied my family to Greece, as a child, I was the one trying to force my parents to visit each available set of ruins. In order. As much as I could figure. I was the one who planned our Metro trips through Paris at ten, so we could cram the most possible activities into each blessed day.

So, in an ideal world, I’d be staying in the cheapest available hostel listed in Lonely Planet’s USA on a Shoestring. I’d be visiting each attraction, each restaurant, each museum, preferably in order listed. I’d be shopping at Dave Eggers’s pirate shop at 826 Valencia, eating at all of the best ramen joints in the city, ordering a handmade $10 ball jar of sangria at a “speakeasy,” and heading towards a different show of a new unheard-of band each night.

As much as I wanted to do a Lonely Planet version of San Francisco, I more wanted to be among these amazing trees, this stunning landscape. Vistas scraped with yellow, mammoth white pines looming, pulling themselves up out of the green moss with the strength of eons. They’re not quite redwoods, but everything here feels bigger, grander. Even though I know it’s younger. The more mammoth something feels, the younger I know it is, the closer to its evolutionary forebears. Maybe as we human beings get older, we’ll get smaller, too, or maybe the ants will just take over after we decimate ourselves.

I’m older now, too. Still able to climb two miles straight up and stealth camp after dark. I’m excited about my new little notebook, about carrying it with me the next week, about pretending that this one week is an actual thru-hike instead of just a meager imitation. Looking at the looming trees, thinking about how many years older than I am they are, I want to move inside of them, love them every single day.

Could it be edible?

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