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August 13, 2023:
We woke up before sunrise, completely drenched in our sleeping bags due to condensation and my squirt juices from last night. We were shivering cold so we got dressed and packed up, then Triple H walked me to the road I planned to hitch from.
My goal today was to at least make it into Idaho Springs. I got a ride up a little ways by an older gentleman and he dropped me off near the Idaho border. Then, I waited a couple of minutes and a guy around my age pulled over and asked how far I was going.
“Idaho Springs,” I said.
“Sweet,” he says, “ I’m going all the way to Portland, Oregon.”
He seemed really chill, so I told him I was actually going there, too. I often gave people a shorter distance as an answer just in case I wanted to get out of the car earlier.
He started moving stuff around and only had room for me in the backseat. He was a rock climber so he had removed his passenger seat to make space for his bulky ropes and other necessary gear.
About twenty mins into the ride, he asked me what kind of music I was into. I admitted to having a guilty pleasure for Taylor Swift. He glanced at me in his rear view mirror as if I said the correct answer, then immediately put her music on full blast.
It was so funny how the perception of a person could change so drastically. At first, I saw him as this masculine black dude who climbed steep rock slabs, and the next second, he put on his sunglasses and shifted to a die hard Taylor Swift fan, holding a fake microphone and scream-singing along to the song “Shake It Off.” Obviously, I joined him.
Then, he turned on the Backstreet Boys, played his air guitar to Bryan Adams and sang his heart out to Cher. It reminded me how we were all just kids. All of that lasted for at least a few hours.
I kept thinking to myself, This man is something special.
His name was Lenny and he was the lighting animation specialist for the show Stranger Things. He shared how the lighting was a very important step in the animation process because it was what made the depth and brought out the feeling of the scenes. Through lighting, he was able to evoke a feeling of love, darkness, coziness or coldness.
Then, we got on the topic of cinema in general and I shared how over the years I had grown very turned off by movies due to how provocative everything had turned, along with the normalization of violence/horror. It just wasn’t attractive to me anymore, and honestly, it never was. I just didn’t feel numb to it anymore. I was always more drawn to old school/traditional things. I found there to be much more depth and art in old school movies because everything for the most part was PG and the x-rated material was meant to be left for interpretation. So, I often found myself watching black and white movies, instead. Otherwise, I wouldn’t find myself watching much television.
“Cinema is supposed to connect people,” Lenny said.
He, himself, started to dip back in time and watch older movies for the same reason. He wasn’t drawn to raunchy scenes or anything of the sort. He found movies were ruined even by the moment they put in a simple kissing scene.
“Let the audience feel it for themselves,” he said, “I also love older movies because the men were portrayed as much more respectful instead of these creatures that just wanted to have immediate sex all of the time, rather than building an emotional connection first. It gives a bad impression on men, along with a deceptive image of men for women.”
I really respected that a man was sharing that perspective with me and that he saw the ‘problem’ in today’s society. It was as if the raunchy/sexual scenes were made to appear as ‘liberation’ and ‘freedom,’ whereas realistically, it was just another trap of the ego to worship the flesh. And I, myself, fell into that trap often.
We talked about how the world was experiencing an epidemic of loneliness, highly having to do with what kind of information we were being handed from the online world and media in general.
He played the song “Bittersweet Symphony” and said, “This is why everyone’s going crazy, because there’s no one slow dancing anymore. Why can’t I just go to a club and slow dance?”
I felt that. I wasn’t drawn to the twerk culture or festival scene. I loved the older era of dressing up and being twirled around by a man. I cried as I listened to the lyrics of the song. What a gift, what a healing gift it was to feel the depth and soul of someone through their music.
I felt like crossing paths with Lenny was just what I needed and I didn’t even know it. I needed to sing my heart out with a stranger and have my voice be all raspy because of it. Lastly, he put on “Bohemian Rhapsody” and I became flooded with memories from a few years back when I sang that song during a karaoke night in the Bahamas. I was piss ass drunk, trying to be sexy on stage instead of full blown letting my weirdness out like I truly wanted to. The contrast in energy and experience to singing that song was drastically different. It was as if I was thinking about a totally different girl back then, in comparison to the one I appeared to be now. Although I had a smile painted on my face at that time, I remembered how insecure I felt. I remembered how strongly I had convinced myself that I needed lots of alcohol to feel fun and confident. Now, everything felt tingly and euphoric and I felt so free. I felt clear in my mind and the apparent path of sobriety had given me a much deeper high than any alcohol or drugs ever could.
As he continued driving, I felt as if I started pissing myself so I said, “Oh no, can we please pull over? I just started menstruating.”
He immediately pulled over on the side of the HWY, I took my pants off and began getting myself situated. After I fixed myself up, Lenny grew really tired and so I offered to drive his car.
He was all for it and joked, “I’ve never been a passenger in my own car.”
He knocked out within a couple of minutes. I drove to Portland which was where Krystal said she would pick me up. We had kept in touch after I met her on the C2C trail last year! We had become really close over the year that had passed and, turned out, she was one of my kind. She was a very strong, wild, yet vulnerable and gentle woman.
I was so grateful her and her boyfriend came to pick me up because my cramps had apparently gotten worse and I did not feel called to hitchhike through downtown Portland.
I waited at the grocery store as some guy tried to persuade me to get in his car to which I said, “No, thank you.”
She came shortly after and I got to meet her new man!
As if being able to read my mind, first thing she asked was, “Did that boy feed you?”
I shook my head ‘no’ while I threw my backpack in the trunk and said, “I’m so hungry.”
She asked what I wanted and spoiled me with my favorite savory and sweet foods from Taco Bell. On the drive back to her home, I had noticed an intense shift in Krystal’s energy in comparison to last year. She seemed much more joyous and buoyant, as if she found a new love for life. I was happy for her and felt she deserved that.
When we arrived to her house, I fell in love with the overall energy. It felt so warm and inviting. I felt immense gratitude when people trusted me into their own personal space.
I got to meet her kids and enjoyed the feeling sense of ‘family,’ especially one that appeared healthy, loved and supported. While being on the road, I had grown to understand that many people did not have or come from a warm home with loving parents, so every time I did come across a healthy family dynamic, I thanked Spirit for blessing the kids with that gift.
I had no more energy to stay up late as the cramps seemed to be growing very heavy, so Krystal offered her bed for me to sleep on while her kids watched TV on the couch for a couple more hours. I curled up in a fetal position and had tears welling up in the corners of my eyes from the perception of intense pain I was experiencing. Thankfully, I fell asleep quickly.