I spent the Saturday after my encounter with Mr. Jackpot on Mt. Tam, hiking with a friend. It was nice to have some company for a change. I needed a break from ‘grad school’. I haven’t gone on a hike since September that hasn’t been nearly completely focused on all things self-discovery. The pace was calm, we only logged 14 miles, and the conversation was spirited. And the fog! It settled deep in the hills, allowing their heads to pop free above the foamy, drifting white blanket. Stinson Beach vanished, with the sound of the waves being the only clue that the ocean was just over there.
One day I will discover why the fog moves me so. I find it undeniably sexy and warm and alive. I want to be in it, have it drifting around me. Some people flip over double rainbows. I flip over being in the right place at the right time to see the first wisp of fog slink its way over the hills from the west, from the sea.
That evening I cuddled up with the boys and read stories and talked about summiting Mt. Everest. (It’s all happening right now! So excited for them. Wishing I was ready and there.) As I bid the evening farewell, my body aching to be horizontal, I was at peace with all that had transpired over the last 24 hours.
Mr. Jackpot and I had accomplished a great deal during dinner on Friday night. He was going to Yachats alone. I felt that the timing of his solo voyage was perfect. I was looking forward to his return, to hearing the tales of what bubbled to the surface for him as he pondered what was behind the doors opening in his core, the emotions that were being stirred, the patterns of the past that needed attention and then, perhaps, needed to be broken.
I wished I was going. I envisioned how much progress I would make on my journey being surrounded by the brutal beauty of the Oregon coast for a solid week without interruption. I’d be content and happy, though, with a day or two at Limantour and a few open water swims to start my training for the Alcatraz to Chrissy Field crossing.
So imagine my reaction when I answered the phone on Sunday morning and The Genius told me his trip was cancelled. He wanted to know if I would still like to go away for the week. If not, he would make other plans. (Like sleep at a car rental counter at LAX?)
I could hear the call to Mr. Jackpot…So, about that trip. You know, the one where I cancelled on you, and you let me know just how much that sucked? For an hour straight? Even though I could do nothing about it? Yea! That one!
Maybe I shouldn’t even tell him and just venture off on my own. I have a tent, a sleeping bag, and a stove. Why not just head to the hills and spend a week hiking alone? I’ve never camped by myself before, but I was game. It’s what I planned to do initially, anyway. Me, the bears and cats, a smattering of arachnids, communing as one. Early morning hikes without having to leave anyone behind at camp. What’s the worst that could happen? I lose my keys deep in the forest, discovering it only when I reach the car…at the exact same time as getting my period?
Now that I envisioned that scenario I’ll be sure to bring tampons.
Then I started to ponder the meaning behind the shift, yet again, in plans. Am I being rewarded for working through a challenging and tense encounter with Mr. Jackpot, bringing it to a peaceful conclusion like a grown-up? Or am I being gifted an opportunity to be gentle and flexible with The Genius to pave the way for a co-parenting relationship that supports our children’s needs? (As an aside, when The Genius told me of the change in plans I could sense he felt like a complete heel.) Both? I could just stay home as planned. Or I could go, as also planned.
The first message I received was that the boys needed to be with their Dad. So it was clear I had to vacate the house. They are in school and shouldn’t have their schedule disrupted, and they would really like having their Dad stay at the home they thought they were going to be living in with him. It would be good for all three. I would figure out a Plan B.
The second message I received was that I needed to tell Mr. Jackpot, regardless of my decision as to how I would spend the week. Just over 24 hours before he was laying his emotions out on a bistro table for me to toy with or digest. I digested. Were he to return from his solo journey to find that I spent the week in the wilderness alone, well, I don’t think that would sit very well with him. Understandably so. He would think I wasn’t being straightforward with him. That I never wanted to go to Yachats in the first place.
Oh, goodness…this all seemed so scattered. Why these gyrations? I needed to understand why.
Because I have to learn how to be comfortable when I’m not in the driver’s seat. Both literally and figuratively. I need to learn how to remain centered and flexible in the face of upheaval. I’m being challenged continually to remain present, so I can observe and respond rather than react when life moves in unexpected directions. Not just when the direction looks exciting, but all the time. Every moment of every day.
I decided to call Mr. Jackpot.
I dove right in.
The Genius’ trip has been cancelled. He’s coming back and staying at the house. Do you still want to go to Yachats with me or would you prefer to go alone? You don’t have to tell me now.
Okay. I’ll call you later.
I thought ‘later’, when said at noon, would mean later that day. No dice. So to bed I went not knowing where I would lay my head mere days away. Let go. Let go.
Late the next afternoon, Mr. Jackpot called.
I’ve had immature thoughts and mature thoughts, followed by immature thoughts.
And where did you land, I asked.
I haven’t decided yet. Can I call you tonight?
I remained gentle and centered.
Sure. Let’s talk later.
That evening Mr. Jackpot said yes, he wanted to proceed with our original plans, but not before telling me of his fleeting desires to be vindictive. It was the kind of confession that had us both laughing. We’ve all had an urge to get back at someone who we feel has hurt us. I’m glad neither of us chose that route. Ultimately, we both love to do the same things with our downtime and we have a blast together out in nature. It felt right to be going.
So we leave tomorrow morning.
I have no expectations of this holiday. Not a one. Except to be fully present for myself. To honor the opportunity for this experience by being completely free of the need to control any outcomes. To simply let it unfold out of respect for and trust in my ability to create exactly what I need. To be okay in the passenger seat. For 14 hours. Along the coast. Oh, God.
Oh, and one other expectation. To catch a King Salmon. I really want to do that. Badly.
Wait. One last one. To leave Yachats with an epiphany. I’m ready for a good old-fashioned epiphany.