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February 5 2024, Riverton to Invercargill:
Lenses, Ben and I needed to eat and have coffee before our trek, however the restaurants we wanted to go to were either closed or we had bad experiences in the past. One in particular had a sign saying they would be back in 15 minutes, then 30 minutes later they put up another sign saying they were taking the day off.
“If you did that in America, you would get sued,” I said, feeling the hanger building up.
We were about to give up when suddenly we walked by a garden store.
“Is there anything I can help you with?” an employee asked, after witnessing the frustration on our faces.
“Do you know where we can get some food?” I asked.
He lifted his eyebrows as if he knew a secret. “Right this way,” he said.
We followed him through the store, past the flower section and into a full blown restaurant—french toast and all! Seriously, those moments just enhanced my belief in God so much.
“There’s no way that shit just happened,” I said, still in shock as I was looking at the menu.
We bulked up, then Orange dropped us off and we began walking the section from Riverton to Invercargill. The coast was covered in glassy remnants of seashells that crunched beneath our steps. Someone took the time to decorate naked tree branches with bleached mussel and oyster shells.
It fascinated me how everything looked nearly identical to the Oregon coast, yet the energy felt entirely different to me. The concept of energy in general fascinated me, for I knew everything was appearing to me the way I was making it out to be. The people I placed into my field of vision, the thoughts I was presently having, my current state of mind—all of those things would reflect my outward experience. I noticed when I was in a state of reminiscing, I would feel as if something was missing. That time I caught myself thinking that Oregon was so much better and the people were much more welcoming. It was a red flag for my mind to pay attention to the story I was telling myself. Also, a reminder that I could change my outlook which would shift the perception in front on me, all in an instant.
We met a lot of SOBO hikers who were on their way to Invercargill from Colac Bay. One being an American named Dennis who was so speedy we nearly felt like we had to run just to keep up with his walking pace. We chatted with him for a while but then I spotted a small crab on the sand and the one second I took to look at it, Dennis was gone. Gone like the wind.
Ben and I caught up on life, such as what was going on with Lenses and their relationship. Ben was struggling, now feeling sexually frustrated and bored since she wasn’t giving in. For him, he felt he needed someone who showed him through physical touch that he was wanted and appreciated but he hasn’t really felt much of that being expressed through her. He claimed he’s never had an issue with his past lovers showing him that they wanted him. He was starting to feel over it, not enjoying the feeling of pursuing her over and over only to receive blue balls.
“Sometimes I wonder if she even likes me,” he said, “I just feel like one moment she’s laughing and the next moment she’s cold or distant.”
“Sounds like a woman,” I said, knowing damn well I was the same way.
I reminded him it could most likely be the difference in cultures and her not being used to showing affection, especially in public places. In Japan it wasn’t necessarily polite to express in that way.
He asked me about Elvis to which I expressed I felt self conscious that he seemed to want Ben and not me. Similarly, I felt unwanted and under appreciated, feeling as if I basically wanted to get fucked way more than what he was giving me. I started to feel that Ben, Lenses, Elvis and I needed to rotate each other around for a better fit.
Still, Ben and Lenses continued to hold hands throughout the day. They did handstands as the tide went out. Eventually, a Japanese guy named Kenji caught up to us, along with the rest of his group. He was stoked to meet Lenses, apparently he had been following her in the logbook hoping to run into her before the end of the trail. They were so excited to connect and speak Japanese.
Near the last stretch we started to see more tire tracks on the beach. It was a popular spot for locals and tourists to hangout. Teenagers sat through the open windows of their car doors as they cruised around, racing each other, trying to impress the girls. Families were cooking BBQ, others were blasting music and dancing. It seemed like a getaway for people to come and heal, giving their thoughts up to the ocean, letting the tide take it away.
As we exited the beach, a group of young girls pulled up in their car and asked, “See any cops down there?”
“Nope,” I said.
“Cool, thanks!” then drove off the pavement and into the sand.
Unfortunately, two minutes after I confirmed that, I saw a cop driving towards the beach.
Orange met us in Invercargill later on in the day. He asked if we were open to visiting a place he wanted to show us that was twenty minutes one way. A part of us wanted to, however we were feeling pretty pau. Instead, we went back to his place where we planned on spending the night.
First thing we saw upon entering his house was a big chunky cat. Naturally, we all fell onto the floor in awe, spoiling her with love and attention.
Afterwards, Orange took us out back to show us his chickens, then went to his garden to get some veggies to get started on dinner. He pulled out some fresh carrots and the scent was invigorating. I took a bite with the dirt still coating it, the mana strong—best carrot I ever ate.
He collected mint leaves then rubbed them together with his fingers, all of us inhaling the icy scent it emitted. He showed us a marijuana plant he had growing, said he tried camouflaging it by planting it in between the other plants, however it was now very obvious since it was much taller than the rest.
It came time for Orange to harvest the potatoes, which was around the same moment I became mesmerized by watching him work in the yard. He was the representation of the kind of man I wanted so fucking bad, so why couldn’t I just love him the way he did me?
He looked so beautiful to me—sweet, kind and humble, especially when he was knee deep in dirt digging for potatoes. It was the vision I had, the lifestyle I desired. I felt at home as the scent of soil enveloped my space. What followed was a bittersweet feeling of sadness. There seemed to be a deep longing for something more, not with him, but with the direction of my life. I noticed the lack of settlement in my life and suddenly I got into my head, feeling as if I wasn’t where I wanted to be.
I went back inside to take a breath as the visual representation of what I wanted in my future seemed too much to look at. Too far fetched, too undeserving for a woman like me. I sat on the carpet in front of a 90s style cabinet that had his grandmother’s China glass collection in it. There was a mirror in the back of the cabinet in which I caught my reflection. I hid myself in between the wooden grates, barely able to look at myself.
Who are you? I asked myself.
I saw the little girl staring blankly at me, as if she was light years away from me. I was trying to understand where she got so hurt along the way and how I could help her now. How could I guide the way for her when I myself didn’t know where I was going?
My tramily came back inside and Orange began prepping dinner. The cat was laying on the floor so Lenses got her film camera ready to capture a photo. I watched her for two minutes as she tried to focus the lens just right, all the while I knew one had to be quick with cats. She waited a few seconds too long to make the click so the cat got up and walked out of the shot. Lenses put her head down in disappointment.
“I should have taken,” she said, “I am not familiar working with cats.”
For dinner, Orange spoiled us with his famous butter loaded potatoes, slow cooked lamb that was so tender it came right off the bone and roasted carrots that tasted like chewy candy. We watched YouTube videos of Joe Biden and all the dumb shit he said, giving clear sign of what a joke our government was.
“Ya know,” I said, “this is exactly what I pictured other countries doing. Sitting just like this and laughing at America. Can’t blame them.”