Just like a bullet leaves a gun.
Tom Waits, Hold On
24 hours in Guerneville, near Monte Rio.
Alone for a day for the first time since my dad died.
Go solo, with a sense of urgency.
Bullet leaving a gun.
Enter tent at Autocamp with low expectations.
Be pleasantly and exceedingly surprised.
Say yes to herbal tea and Toblerone.
Read two long chapters in Commonwealth (which lands a direct hit to your solar plexus every three pages or so, as the story is a thinly-veiled, fictionalized account of Patchett's semi-blended family, post-divorce).
They've thought of everything. Electric blanket. Caffeine. Warm fire. Soothing bath products.
You don't have to remind people to send their teachers letter of rec requests for college apps, to pick up their wet towels, to say thank you, to turn off their space heaters, to schedule and re-schedule the tutor, to please stop using the words like, ratchet, reals, goals, totes, to e-file the ex parte application, to send the medical records to the expert, to follow-up with the client.
You are a non-nag for one whole day.
Drive directly to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.
Run up the East Ridge Trail.
Breathe in the world's most perfect fall morning air.
Forget about your basal cell carcinoma, which is having a "robust reaction" to the requisite six-week treatment that feels like applying acid to your forehead.
Forget about the right eyebrow that has consequently gone partially missing (about which the middle daughter inquired, "Well, would you rather have two eyebrows AND cancer?")
Forget about the knee with no cartilage.
Forget about your dead father being dead.
Instead, feel him with you on the trail, just to your right.
You're not really lost, just alone ... naturally, for the first time since he passed.
You're not surprised that he showed up here. That his presence is palpable.
He's the one, after all, who got you to start running with him the summer after your freshman year of college when you came home 15 pounds heavier and a whole lot unhappier than when you left.
He's the one who knew your thoughts, felt your feelings.
Who loved and forgave you ... even when you couldn't love and forgive yourself.
Know, in that instant, that he still does.
At least when you allow yourself to think and feel, which you do.
In these blessed woods.
alone // not alone