It warmed up on the coast this past week, which meant that we saw temps in the 80s and occasionally sweated if we wore long sleeves or pants. There have been a few hours each day of the heavy, low-lying clouds that characterize this area–even some rain, but it still generally clears, giving way to sun, warmth, and gorgeous blue skies.
It was a week of personal visits at camp, which started with Hope getting a visit from her significant other, Garrett. For just about the entirety of their 5ish year relationship, they’ve been long distance, often living in different states and even different countries. I did several long distance relationships before I met Allyson, but nothing that comes near what they’ve endured when it comes to carrying on a relationship far apart. It takes a great deal of dedication to be committed to someone you don’t get to see. Allyson and I have been living apart for 5 months, and I know how that takes a toll. It was good to get to see them in the same space together, for them to get to share some moments in this great place, if even for about a week. I was glad for them to get this time.
I remember pretty vividly during the stretches I was single longing for a partner. The longing was often tied up in simply sharing moments. I can remember road trips between Jackson and Knoxville, being alone, enjoying the ride well enough, but wanting someone to share it with. Wanting a knee to rest my free hand on when I hit those long stretches of road. Wanting someone to talk to about the gorgeous view we were passing by. I’m very good at keeping myself entertained. I’m good at keeping myself in awe of my surroundings. I think even for the people who are the best at that, though, there’s still a longing to feel there is someone else next to you who gets that too, who is happy to be in that moment with you.
After five months of living on two separate sides of the country, Allyson finished up her work and began the epic road trip across the states that would end in her new home on the Oregon Coast. She shared the journey with two of her best friends: Amanda and Danielle. I was excited for them, because I knew what they would see together. Amanda and Danielle had not seen most of this, and I knew they would appreciate it just like Allyson and I did. And, I was glad that Allyson was making the trip with people who know her deeply. I made regular instagram and facebook checks to see what they had photographed most recently, following them in my mental Rand McNally road map. I felt them closer and closer each day, knowing that a new chapter in our lives was about to begin, and we’d share it with a few people we love very much.
Two nights before Allyson and the girls arrived, I went out on the beach to see the sunset. The low tide had exposed a sand bar with a little moat between it and the beach. I crossed at a shallow point to the bar, where the ocean waves just covered my ankles. The ocean felt warm and comfortable, not the usual brisk cold. I saw the light fading behind the clouds, and watched the waves play over the sand, running in different directions as it hit different depths and surfaces. It felt so peaceful and so big. I relished it knowing it was one of the last I would see before Allyson joined me. I was at the end of a chapter, a beautiful one no doubt, but one that I was ready to close. I thought about how much more beautiful it would be with Allyson next to me. When I could reach out and know her hand would be there to grab.
I took my day off on the last day of the girls’ road trip. I met them at Multnomah Falls, one of the first places in Oregon Allyson and I visited when we first came to this place. It is the highest waterfall in Oregon and really about all the tourism marketing Oregon should need. Our Honda Civic Hybrid pulled up, and I waved them into an empty parking space. Allyson came out, and I hugged her hard. Then, Digby came out, scratching at my legs. Then two of my greatest friends followed to hug me as I welcomed them to this wonderful home.
Amanda literally jumped up and down when she saw the falls from a distance. Danielle showed me pictures and recounted her recent trip to San Francisco which was long overdue. They showed me their pictures that detail the story of their epic road trip, chocked full of inside jokes and hilarious images. It was great to have these familiar feelings, to have this comfort that comes from someone who knows you and who you know well. I think of all the times we have spent in each others’ homes. Helping each other through the big events of our lives. Choosing to spend even the most mundane with each other, making something special, something sacred.
Walking on the beach, I’ve noticed the sand fleas crowd onto the line where high tide most recently reached and backed off from. It’s where a lot of kelp and sea life wash up, and the fleas feast on it. Some have gotten pretty big, like large cave crickets. Walking over this line on the way to the ocean, you’ll find them bouncing off your ankles and feet. I don’t want to step on them out of a respect for life and just not wanting them smushed on the bottom of my foot. They hop around so fast that it’s hard to keep from stepping on them if you walk at any sort of decent pace. But, you can avoid them if you slow down enough. I realized this while wanting to just get to the ocean, this plan I had for myself interrupted by these little things hopping all around. But, if I wanted to be true to my ideals of slowing down and valuing the life in front of me, I just had to remember that I don’t always get what I want when I want it. That doesn’t mean it won’t come, though. It will be good when it does, but don’t lose site of the things in between that are right under my feet.
Their first night after the cross-country trip, we built a campfire on the beach as it got dark. Everyone marveled at this beautiful place at this new life Allyson and I are settling into. Digby ran in circles in the sand and barked at other dogs in the distance. This new chapter is beginning. We have waited, prepared, longed for, but it is finally here. Allyson and I get to share this everyday in the flesh. Camp life has become quite hectic–this upcoming week, we’ll host 5 different groups. In this time we have though–this tiny little bit we’re allowed–I’m trying to slow myself down each day to see what’s right there, to share it, to know all this time should be seen as sacred. This is why we hang in over the distance. We believe in the moments we’ll make when we are finally together.