I just recently spent six days at Chelan in the woods — “the woods” is code for “there was no wifi” — with a good friend and it was everything I needed. I leaned into all the -ings. Eating, reading, writing, sleeping, cooking, dreaming, staring, nothing. A whole lot of nothing. I read Crazy Rich Asians. Played Yahtzee. Went bowling during half-price day, and walked along the water. She found Kingsman in the cabin’s DVD collection, so we made vodka cocktails (heavy on the lime) and watched that one night with our feet up. It was probably the eighth time I’d seen it because I’m a COLIN FIRTH FANGIRL. I think he’s my #1 on the ole celebrity exception list, now that Alan Rickman is gone. This is perhaps the most American thing I may say in my lifetime, but the fight scene (tw: very graphic, lotsa murder) where he kills 40 people in one long, continual church scene is the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen, and the only time in history when “Freebird” was the perfect soundtrack.
I finished a short script, three outlines for pieces I’m working on, one Game of Thrones recap longer than those three pieces combined, and this check-in blog post. (The new laptop, my birthday present, is a dream.) I breathed life into an idea that scared the shit out of me, and took a lot of notes. Being holed up in the woods with no wifi was good for my city-circuited brain. I got bored. I took cat naps. I made some goals and stared at stuff and didn’t talk very much. I wrote a lot. We listened to records, actual records like our ancestors did. One day I woke up to the smell of coffee, the sounds of my friend making breakfast, and Billie Holiday on vinyl. We drank out of mason jars on the porch when it was nice out, when it rained, during sunset. She built a few fires. We laughed a lot.
With my impending moonface adventures — I’m on so many steroids right now, my Other Face is coming back quickly and I’m going to have to deal (it is just vanity, after all) — it was nice to be in a new place with an old friend to practice just being. When I’m feeling self-conscious or want to hide this summer, I want to remember this feeling of being free of all that nonsense: To remember that my face, just like my brain car aka my body does not define me or determine my worth, despite everything America has shown, told, and screamed at me since birth. It’s unrealistic to expect that I can just ignore the stranger’s face staring at me in the mirror, but each time I forget a little faster. Every time we’re back on this magic poison regimen, I try to remember the actual goal: not selfies, but staying alive.
Friday we took the Lady of The Lake boat to Stehekin, the northernmost town of about 100 people on Lake Chelan. Four hours there, 90 minutes to cram ourselves into one of the greatest bakeries around, and four hours back. Because we could bring food on the boat, I spent much of Thursday night listening to playlists Justin made me and making food for the boat ride. I made roasted chicken salad mixed with sweet onion and apples that were destined for pitas, smoked salmon and veggie egg muffins , chocolate chip cookies — mostly comfort food. My friend was doing her own thing outside of the cabin, so I had five hours to myself, just focused on the task at hand. It was the nicest five hours I’ve spent in a really long time.
As a “people person” (I hate this phrase, because people are terrible and I hate being one, yet still it fits perfectly), I am constantly talking to someone, online or in-person, often simultaneously. Being married to someone, albeit a quiet, keeps-to-himself gamer-person, means there’s someone to check in with and talk with every day, often every hour or two, especially since he works from home. I forgot what it was like to have… none of that. No reception meant no one could reach me, I couldn’t engage on social media, I couldn’t check in with Justin; I couldn’t even reach Jenny, who I came with to the cabin. It was so freeing. And I’d forgotten what a good cook I am. Cooking every day at the cabin reminded me of that, too.
The bakery in Stehekin was called… god, I don’t even know, I just ran to it from the bakery shuttle – THE BAKERY SHUTTLE – shoving aside small children and the elderly to get in line first. I ended up getting a mushroom/onion/pesto/cheese bread pocket — like a hot pocket for fucking adults — and it was so delicious and pillowy and comforting, I went back and bought the rest of them. “I’ll give one to my husband, and have one tomorrow, and maybe one for the boat ride back…” I told the women at the counter, unsure if I would share them with anyone, anywhere, for any reason at all. I rode on a boat for four hours surrounded by hikers and children and old people and an intercom system like a fucking bullhorn. I EARNED THIS BREAD. The second round of boat folks showed up and it got a little crowded, so we wandered to the gift shop and chatted with random people milling about.
When we came back to the boat, a big group of people wouldn’t let me in line so I just waited for everyone to get on. When I finally made it to my seat, Jenny said “I saw those people edge you out,” and I was like yeah, but those are the people who lined up after I bought out the whole bakery, and I’m coming back to Chelan with all the baked goods they couldn’t even try after waiting four hours like the rest of us. So they can get on the boat first, if only to see me walk by with an egregious bounty of fuck-you carbs.
One great thing about turning 43 is the level of IDGAF that has seeped into my life. Thanks to this impromptu trip, my whole summer is going to be embracing DGAF-ness as a way of life. I might even go to a POOL PARTY. I might show this moonface in public. I might wear espadrilles.