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January 7 2024, Camp Stream Hut to Lake Tekapo:
I woke up not knowing how I was going to have the conversation I needed to have with Orange. I knew I was going to have to face it and he was going to as well. Maybe this is what I needed, honesty with myself and others. And maybe what he needed was to get his heart ripped out, to see me for who I was and not the fantasy of who he wanted me to be.
I ripped a little slip of paper from the hut logbook and wrote him a note, letting him know I was going to hike alone and meet him in town. I didn’t want to talk straight away, needing a moment to process things.
I got lost on trail by following a faint path along the river rather than veering a hard left up a steep hill. Once I noticed, I figured I would take a short cut up the hill rather than going back a few hundred feet and taking the easier route. I ended up walking through tight spaced thorny bushes that were taller than me. My legs began to shake drastically with panic when I saw scrapes throughout my skin and blood surfacing in various places. I didn’t necessarily have a reason to be scared for I knew the trail was right above me, so I simply watched it for what it was—a sense of fear. I let the waves of energy make their way through me.
I made it out of the thorns, climbed over the pass then road walked to town. I felt I could breathe when I hiked alone.
How was I ever going to let someone into my life if I always felt better alone?
How was I going to build any kind of friendship if I always felt like saying “fuck it” and and running off into the wild when things got hard?
I enjoyed the road walk for it was simple and didn’t require for me to pay much attention to anything more than my footing, yet somehow the ease of the trek and just made the thoughts divert into Orange.
I felt as if I was a terrible person—so odd how well I convinced myself of that. Thoughts came up about feeling bad that I told Orange I was going to bed last night, then a minute later an opportunity for new cock came up and I took it. I changed my mind so often with him, but it was like that all of the time with me. I was used to it but maybe others weren’t.
When I connected to the main gravel road, I pulled my book out to read. Just as I finished the last page, a car pulled to a stop and picked me up. It was a father and son who were coming back from a small hunting trip. He dropped me off in town and there I waited for Orange to show up.
I felt overridden with nervousness and anxiety when I saw him pop out from around the corner. I wanted to find a perfect way to talk to him in a nice setting. Instead, we were surrounded by hundreds of loud-speaking tourists. I invited the idea of going by the lake to talk, but then figured it might be easier to put our stuff down in a hostel first. He seemed apprehensive by the idea but said okay.
As we were walking, he asked, “How was your night?”
“It was good,” I said, “cowboy camped under the stars, woke up in the middle of the night to look at them.”
“Anythin’ else?”
“Yeah, but I’d prefer to sit down and talk about it.”
Panting up a sidewalk in the middle of town didn’t seem too appealing for me.
“I saw you with him!” he accused.
“Okay, I guess we’re doing this here,” I whispered, trying to catch my breath.
“I’ve neva been so disrespected in my life,” he said.
“Seriously?” I asked, feeling as if I was all of a sudden a girlfriend who got caught cheating.
I took my pack off at the intersection. The feeling was beginning to remind me of Voodoo, the way we had these one way conversations on the sidewalk in the heat of New Hampshire. The same feeling of having done something apparently wrong and getting berated for it.
“I was going to tell you,” I said. Truly, I was. I wanted to experience some sort of grounding effect through nature to help calm the shakiness of my energy instead of the concrete world of traffic lights and passing cars. I guess I had to start accepting the fact that I couldn’t paint the scene the way I wanted it to be everytime. I had to take it as it was and roll with it.
“I went inside the hut to confirm which guy you were with and figured it out,” he said. “Everyone gave me weird looks when I asked where ya were. They weren’t makin’ eye contact with me so I knew you were with the Swiss guy.”
I didn’t say I was sorry because I wasn’t. I didn’t regret what apparently happened.
“I was going to ask you to be my girlfriend yesterday,” he continued, “but I asked God to give me a sign first and then I walked down to the river and saw you having sex with him.”
“We didn’t have sex,” I interrupted.
“Okay well then what did you do?”
“Well I saw you washing your pussy down in the river. You know you’re not that quiet.”
“I wasn’t trying to be. I wasn’t trying to sneak out, I mean I was cowboy camped right beside you and you haven’t even gone to bed yet.” I was aware he would say “goodnight” to me as he usually did and wouldn’t find me there.
“Do you respect yourself?” he asked coldly.
For a second, I almost laughed. I guess I did have a sick, twisted mind because my first reaction was how much I liked being in trouble for something.
“Some days I do, some days I don’t,” I said.
My energy quickly shifted. Suddenly, I felt I was being attacked. Why did I feel I owed him an explanation? I felt annoyed that he was even going to ask me to be his girlfriend when we had multiple conversations about how I had no intention of dating, especially with the trajectory in which my life was headed.
Why did these conversations feel as if I was physically going to die? I felt so anxiety ridden and scared, as if speaking about this sort of stuff and being confronted for my apparent actions felt as if it was the end of the world and meant death in some way. I wanted him to meet me where I was at and not rush me into talking, otherwise I felt as if I was going to throw up right on the spot and butcher my sentences.
How did the friends I have seem to have such an easy time being blunt, straight forward and to the point? I felt I was a child in some sense, as if I needed to experience immense gentleness and patience in those moments in order to feel safe opening up. Unfortunately, I saw the way I relied on the other person to give it to me rather than supplying it for myself.
“I told you this weeks ago that I had patterns I was still playing out,” I defended, “I feel like you put me on a pedestal and made me out to be this woman that I’m not. I know we have the same life visions and want to end up off the grid but I want that way later in life. I’m not that girl right now. I can’t be that girl. It’s not even close to where I’m at right now, it’s where I eventually want to be and it feels like you’re just skipping over the girl I am right now.”
“Okay well I wish you would heal your patterns already,” he said.
Ouch. There it was.
“That’s not how healing works,” I said. I felt so much anger because I was aware of the self-work I went through on a daily basis. It wasn’t always an instantaneous fix. “I’ve been feeling so uncomfortable around you for some time now—“
“You’ve been feelin’ uncomfortable around me?” he asked. “When? Why?”
“Because, Orange, I can see the way you look at me. I can sense the way you are around me. I can feel how much you’re into me and I can’t feel relaxed when I know you have strong feelings for me.”
He nodded in agreement, unable to deny it.
“Mhm, well, I also felt like you were leadin’ me on a lot,” he said.
I was thrown off guard with that comment because I felt I wasn’t doing anything of the sort. “Can you please tell me how you thought I was leading you on?” I asked.
“You told me you were attracted to me and that you had a crush on me.”
“Yes, that was true. I should’ve been more clear that that was on the PCT.” I actually should’ve been even more clear that it was emotionally and energetically wise, not physically.
I was given memories of us laughing together, the way I rested my head on his shoulder or locked arms with him when we were walking through Christchurch. To me, it was nothing more than the way my personality was wired, but a lot of people misinterpreted my mannerisms as flirting. I could see how he felt that way.
Now that everything was out in the open I felt I could finally hold eye contact with him without breaking it. The moment we currently found ourselves in was for me to see how often I came across this point in my life where I had the same recurring conversation, nearly verbatim. It was almost the same in every instance with the men that came across the rain bands of my hurricane persona.
It seemed I kept receiving a perception of pissing men off for not being a certain way. A man would claim he was head over heels for me, wanting to develop something more to which I wouldn’t. I would be some sort of Angel or Goddess in their eyes, that was up until they walked in on me deep throating some random stranger. Then the veil would be ripped off. That’s how my life went.
Could they see past the image that I was putting out?
Could I?
I guess I haven’t come to terms with being whole-heartedly comfortable in my own skin by simply saying, “Listen, this is how my personality is. I am not flirting with you and if you can’t discern that and respect that, I won’t be sticking around.” I wondered why last year on the AT it was so much easier to communicate my boundaries and to own my sexuality, whereas this year I felt it was nearly impossible to do so. Sometimes it was easier, other days it felt it took all the courage to be honest with myself.
He also took notice to how often I wanted to be alone on trail. I told him nothing really changed in that regard. I was the same when he knew me on the PCT, the only difference was I didn’t know how to voice it at the time. I reassured him it was nothing personal, just how I was and moved by what felt inspiring to me.
“Well your need for alone time was happenin’ more and more,” he said, “I realized that I came out to hike and be here with you and that it wasn’t goin’ as planned.”
Sometimes that happened in life. Things didn’t go as planned, however this moment we were in, I saw coming from before I even flew out here. It was as if I was tapping into the future. It seemed a lot of people left me around this time, unable to stick around and be in the ‘friend zone.’
“I just want to let you know that I did have every intention of telling you,” I said.
“I know ya did,” he said.
“I’m an expert at fucking things up,” quoting Voodoo.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself,” he said.
“I won’t,” I replied.
He stuck with his boundary, quit the trail and decided to hitchhike back home. I didn’t force him to stay, I didn’t beg him nor did I apologize in order to get him to change his mind. I wasn’t one to do that. I wanted to allow people to have the freedom to do what they apparently wanted to do and the same went for myself. And so I let him go and I was alone… on my own again.
As I already expected the worst to happen, that being the worst, I had already prepared for it in my mind so it wasn’t too scary. I was now truly alone in a country I had never been in, with no one to navigate me around, and I felt some sort of deep excitement that came along with that. I relaxed into the feeling.
I didn’t blame Orange. I would’ve done the same exact thing if I found I really liked someone then walked in on them eating someone out. Without a doubt, I would’ve left, too. If anything, I highly respected him for standing firm in what he felt he deserved, but I didn’t respect getting put down with interrogating questions after I told him the type of woman I was and that I would end up doing something like this.
The feelings fluctuated. I felt shaken and as if a bandaid had been ripped. After we parted, I felt like shit, which was a sure sign I had given my power away to someone outside of me. It felt overwhelming and right away I knew I needed to take a couple days off to ground myself emotionally again.
Upon walking into the hostel, I saw pinecones everywhere, and I mean everywhere. The place was covered in them, from all shapes and sizes, being used as garland and ornaments. It was as if my Spirit Guides were really wanting me to pay attention, letting me know that all things were working out for good. I felt they were communicating that I was going to be perfectly okay. In fact, I already was.
Suddenly, a spunky girl popped up out of the blue. I thought she was the owner of the place. She was not. She was a German girl with a strong accent who called herself Miss Sophia. She asked how many nights I would be staying and I said two, herself three. I asked for help in finding the owner and she guided me to her. This was the second place I checked for accommodations and just like the other, it happened to be fully booked. Tenting wasn’t allowed, so I thanked her and left the room feeling a sense of disappointment. I really felt I needed to take a breather and relax my mind in a comfortable, quiet environment.
Miss Sophia overheard the whole conversation and offered to let me stay with her in her bedroom for the next couple of nights. I couldn’t believe it. I felt as if she was an angel that had crossed my path. She told me to pay however much I felt comfortable giving so I gave her half the amount she paid.
She asked if I wanted to go out for coffee while we waited for check-in to which I said yes! I stored my items in her car and we began walking. Normally I would want to be alone in a situation like this, but meeting her seemed to be just what I needed. I whispered a ‘thank you’ to Spirit.
“You’re ze first one I invited into my bed so quickly,” she said, “I’ve neva been so quick to invite a stranger into my bed!”
As we walked to town, I got strong scents of pine trees that brought about a feeling of home. We walked to the cafe that Orange and I were at just moments ago and I was swept over by a sense of melancholy. Miss Sophia ordered coffee and I didn’t get anything, not having much of an appetite and not wanting to distract myself with food/substances.
She sat with me and I thought I would let her know that I was feeling a bit off emotionally. She let me open up to her and I felt safe to do so. It felt good to confide in a stranger, finding it healing to voice thoughts out loud and witness the subconscious things I felt about myself.
Why was I so hard on myself all the time? It felt as if I could never give myself a break. I was my biggest bully and worst critic. Yet simultaneously, I saw the innocence in my apparent actions and the gifts I received from the experience. I felt the little girl inside of me, scared, wanting attention, feeling as if she needed to be noticed through some form of external sexual attention. Ironic, because once I received it, I would feel as if I was tainted in some sort of way and would be overtaken by guilt.
We went on a walk towards the lake where I had wanted to go with Orange. We played on the playground, then meandered to the edge of the water. I walked in, all the way up to my thighs, enjoying the sensation. I let the water ease the heat that was running through my body, cooling me with its essence. My blood hot, my head faint. I took a deep breath and watched as the seagulls flew just above me. I looked far into the horizon above the smooth line of glacial water and into the mountains that were overlayed by a slight blue grey haze.
We went to get ice cream then back to the room to check-in, both in deep appreciation and fondness of the coziness. I had planned to sleep on the carpeted floor but she didn’t allow for it and told me to join her on the bed. I really grew to love the energy of being around women and forming a bond of sisterhood. I felt they understood my emotions and needs.
She began to show me her lululemon clothing collection she had bought.
Why do I like doing this? I thought to myself. I couldn’t deny that I enjoyed girl talk and shopping. Something in my brain lit up with excitement for the very things.
First, she pulled out the leggings, then the matching sports bra. “They go togetha,” she said. Dangling the pants in the air, she looked at them and said, “It feels like I needz you,” then grabbed the sports bra. “An I needz you. An that is ze life. So, I bought both of them.”
She was adorable and funny. Later we met up for an early dinner—oven roasted pesto pizza with a vegetarian one that we got as take out.
“Lez go sit by ze oil painting landscape,” she said.
We walked to a shaded picnic table under a tree beside the glacial lake. She said out of all the places she traveled to in the world, she knew this was her home. She could just feel it.
I asked her about her family life. She and her mother had a good relationship but felt they spent too much time together and now the roles reversed, where she felt like the mother in the relationship.
“I feel because of that I lost ze lot of time to travel and focus on myself and do ze things that make me happy,” she said.
I began laughing and said, “Good thing that’s not true!”
She opened up more about her home life, confessing how she hadn’t spoken to her real father in many years because he wasn’t a very good guy.
“Maybe he’s good now but he wasn’t when I knew him,” she said.
She, herself, didn’t have good role models for romantic relationships and was learning along the way as she went. She didn’t want the typical stay at home housewife lifestyle but at the same time wanted a guy who wasn’t afraid to commit to her. She desired a man who wanted to be with her because he wanted to be not because he felt he had to be.
She was 36, yet it felt there was no space between our apparent ages. I felt I knew her, in a long lost sister kind of way. She specifically came to New Zealand alone to heal her hurt after coming out of an emotionally painful three year relationship.
“When ze days were good with him, they were really good,” she said, “he knew how to be really sweet and throw on good time, however my heart wasn’t in it anymore.”
“Why didn’t it work out between the two of you?” I asked.
“He had other women zat I didn’t know about,” she said. “Well, I guess part of me knew. Zat’s why I left. And I couldn’t make ze agreement with reaching out to him for ze sex here and there. I would jus be breaking my own heart.” She took in a deep breath as she looked out into the water. “I wanted something more.”
“I know exactly what you’re feeling,” I said.
“Ze worst part was, ze sex was facking amazing,” she said as her eyes rolled back. “It drove me mad it vas so good.”
This story sounds too familiar, I thought to myself.
I completely understood what she was going through. She spoke of the way he apparently manipulated her and how he would somehow convince her to stay every time. All logic was thrown out the window.
“He knew I couldn’t say no to him,” she said.
She would try to be serious with him but couldn’t help but smile at the sound of his voice and the sight of his face. He would find her after she left him then would reel her back in with sweet nothings and empty promises. They would have sex and the pattern would start all over again.
It was amazing for me to see how after I went through all of the same things, I suddenly started to witness all these other women come into my field of vision, talking about identical experiences. It was as if I was being reminded that I was not alone in the things I experienced in my mind.
She now loved traveling and saw how much it changed her life. She grew to love being alone, saying there was nothing like the feeling, especially after being in a different country where barely anyone spoke her language. Her healing was a daily practice for her, especially coming out of that relationship, but she was confident in her growth and strength. Being on her own and learning to become her own best friend was at first challenging, but in the end so rewarding. She was finally starting to feel happy again.
The conversation took a light turn when we started talking about other men.
”I don’t know about you but I love giving blowjobs,” she said, “but ze is no men I’ve been that attracted to.”
I nearly choked on my pizza from laughing. “Oh girl,” I said, “I’m right there with ya.”