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February 15, 2024:
I was sitting in the lounge area when a guy came to sit close to me about twenty minutes later. God, I felt hot men just appeared in my vicinity out of thin air. He was tall, had curly strawberry blonde hair and was pale in skin. I figured he would have an accent, seemed exotic. I kept glancing at him until eventually he picked a conversation with me, asking about my macramé rings and how fond he was of them. I gave him my hand so he could take a closer look. His name was Dylan and we only talked for about an hour because I planned to get breakfast with Orange.
When we made it back to the hostel, I listened to the tui birds in the trees, convinced more than ever that they were some sort of alien species from a different planet. Dylan ended up coming back with some freshly caught pāua. He displayed it for us, then I went to break apart the tent and it was time for our departure to Invercargill.
Orange reminded me of my Dad in the sense that he was very laid back on timing. He felt no pressure being late whereas I needed to be places extremely early. I had zero issue sitting in a waiting room for an extra 1-3 hours if it meant I didn’t have to get my nervous system all riled up with the possibility of being apparently late.
After we got checked in, I became antsy getting off the island, so I started to look for things to distract me.
“Oo!” I exclaimed. “A toy box!”
I looked through the box but all the toys appeared gross and unappealing. I found an old school telephone so I played around with all of the buttons. Then, I found a rack of post cards, started fiddling with those until finally I just stood in the middle of the room and danced to no music. Orange claimed I had ADHD but I didn’t believe in such a thing.
Many people had warned us about the flight and how the pilots seemed too young to carry nitrile the aircraft. I wasn’t worried about it, if anything I was excited to be in the air. Orange on the other hand was very nervous, but he kept his cool. He didn’t have much flight experience, let alone being crammed into a tight space. Now, I felt it was my turn to comfort him.
We took off. “It’s kind of smart that they have young pilots doing these trips,” I said, “cause when you think about it, if we crash, it’s not like they’re gonna kill hundreds of people. They’re only going to kill about 9.”
I don’t think that helped ease him, so I asked him to point out all of the places we walked through. The flight was short, only twenty minutes, however the scenic overview of the mountains and ocean was entirely worth the extra money.
“How old are you?” I asked the pilot as he handed us our bags.
“25,” he said.
“Wow! Younger than me! Do people ever get freaked out by how young you are?” I asked.
“Oh yeah,” he said, but it’s better than my friend Luke who’s only 20 and looks like he is.”
“Yeah,” he said, “the oldest pilot here is 27.”
My eyes widened.
We got a ride back to Bluff by Orange’s friend who had been holding his car at her place. The drive there was pretty quiet on my end as I didn’t feel like socializing.
We thanked her for the lift and I said, “Sorry for not being very talkative. I just started my period so I’m experiencing some pain.”
Then, we sat in his car and got ready to go.
“You were doin’ so good the entire car ride,” Orange said, “and then ya told her that you were on your period.”
I laughed because I didn’t find it weird at all. “Well yeah,” I said, “I didn’t want her to think I was a bitch.”
We started cruising back to his place so he could make me some of his famous roasted potatoes and those squishy candy carrots I so desperately loved. We stopped at the grocery store to get some food to hold us over in the meantime. I bought a rotisserie chicken and ate most of it in the car.
“Save room for dinner!” he said.
“I don’t think you know how much I can eat,” I said.
We made it back to his place, I cuddled his cat on the floor, then I got washed up. I got to meet his parents shortly after and something about that felt extremely special to me. It felt like I got to experience an even deeper taste of who Orange was and where he came from. He reminded me so much of his father through sharing similar mannerisms and energy except Orange was much calmer and grounded in his demeanor.
We laid down in his bed to eat and looked at the view of his garden through his bedroom window. His energetic space reminded me of the PCT which felt like home. It inspired memories of walking through the desert as the sky turned a shade of midnight periwinkle blue and the feeling of being on the porch during a summer night, listening to the music of crickets chirping.
Lastly, Orange showed me a panel of lights he had, known as red light therapy. He said he would sit in front of it for an extended period of time and that it had a lot of healing properties. It was so bright when he turned it on but I was so drawn to it regardless. I think he thought I thought it was weird but I reassured him how much I loved it, so he turned it on every ten minutes.
Just as I was falling asleep, Orange placed kitty catnip treats on my neck and back so I could feel his cat eating off of me. The best part was listening to her chew and crunch directly next to my ear. Her whiskers would tickle me, soothing my mind. It was one of the most comforting, psychedelic and therapeutic experiences. Cat therapy I shall call it.
I felt grateful for Orange, in appreciation at a much deeper level than I have ever been before. Hiking Stewart Island with him was an experience I would never forget. It felt it would forever hold a special place in my heart. He, himself, would forever hold a special place.
Tomorrow we had planned to hike a trail in Fiordland called the Gertrude Saddle Track. I was up for it a few days ago, but that was before my moon cycle came. I was still down to go, figured I could take some kratom to help ease any cramps.