At 4am I wake up to the sound of a man screaming in a parking lot, I am in my tent. Still slightly drunkish. His screaming and yelling is getting closer. I can hear him saying things about being 86'd and fuck this and fuck that. He's raging and hitting things, his voice and violence gets closer. I'm sitting upright in my tent, flooded with adrenaline. My heart is beating so hard it's shaking my tent walls. His voice comes nearer and nearer... I start to pack my things. But then suddenly it veers away from my tent site. I can hear him carrying on down a road behind the treeline that obscures me from his vision.
I relax very slightly. I am wide awake now. I lay back down, to wait out the dark hour before dawn so that I can do some town errands.
I hate towns, I think. They're disgusting and they smell and they're filled with horrible people and towns take all your money anyway. Why am I here?
Everything from the night before creeps up on me. I feel so disgusted with myself and with humanity.
5:30 hits and I break my tent down lightening fast and hit the street like a sly liminal creature. A truck drives very slowly behind me in my blind spot. I turn my head to look back and see a man shaped person whose face I cant really see, looking at me. I pull on my Not To Be Fucked With Face and stare back into the vehicle. It drives off after a few minutes.
I feel like complete and utter shit. I'm walking to the laundromat to clean my clothes and it feels like it takes forever, it's 4 miles away. I haven't had a hangover like this, in ages.
I stumble my way into the laundromat. It's bright and clean and I'm the only one there. I get in a load of laundry and drift in and out of a troubled stiff sleep while things wash and dry. I drink a lot of water and take an ibuprofen. I feel demoralized and miserable. I leave and head towards a Fred Meyer for a few supplies and fruit. I want fruit.
I find a container of pineapple, cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries and two travel sized bottles of coconut shampoo. Mark had told me about a gym with showers and a sauna and it feels like a good thing to do. Sit in heat and wash myself.
The walk takes forever. I longingly eye hotels that I pass by. I just want to hide and sleep.
I walk up into the gym parking lot and there's Mark. He acts very friendly towards me and asks to hang out with me later as I'm walking in. I'm curt with him and decline his suggestions while paying for my access to the womens locker room. My skin crawls.
The locker room is very fancy and it seems as though nudity is frowned upon. I sit in a large curtained room, very slowly removing my clothes, sipping water and sitting on a small bench eating pieces of fruit. I pick out moss and twigs from my hair. My shower is amazing and I cycle myself in and out of the sauna and to cool showers until I no longer feel like death.
I'm tired, but feeling much better. My whole body is warm and feels glowing.
I step out of the gym hesitantly, wondering if Mark is nearby. I don't see his van, and so I relax. Along the sidewalk is lavender growing, rows and rows of it filled with happy bees. I pluck a few flower heads and put them into my hat. When the sun hits the lavender I can smell it, and it makes me feel happy and comforted. Surround yourself with allies, I think.
My mother had sent me a package of boiled peanuts, I swing by the post office to discover they still haven't arrived. I text her and find out they're enroute from Eugene. I'm debating leaving today to get the fuck out of this town. But I am not well right now and my next stretch will be out on a sunny exposed beach, for ever and ever.
I decide three things: RV park, pie and sleep.
I acquire a small banana cream pie and three chicken tenders from a Safeway and check in to the RV Park. Free wifi. What magical park land is this?
I pitch my tent behind a small wooden windbreak and try to sleep in it but the sun makes it too warm to be comfortable. I sprawl out on my ground sheet and take a nap in the shade of another windbreak. I sleep for two hours.
I awake refreshed, ravenous and thirsty. I consume the pie, chicken and make mac and cheese while poking around on my phone under a huge screened gazebo. A couple arrives and they ask me if I'm a "walker" - we chat for a good while and I learn that they're hitchhikers and had done 5000 miles in 50 days! They work in a steel factory outside of Chicago. Lance is passionate about what they do and speaks to me very excitedly. His wife is sweet and serene. She has dreadlocks down to her calves and a slight southern twang to her voice. It made me happy to meet other people doing a similar thing.
I look over my maps. Tomorrow I'll be entering the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area. Beaches and sand and lots of it. Should be easy miles.
I walk around a small part of old town since it's situated right next to the RV park. I watch a seal in the dock area, it looks at me with huge weird eyes. Tourists bum around. I watch a huge flock of cormorants flying around on the river and diving, they jump and over lap each other like they're playing a collective leap frog. I find a small trail down on the river and pick blackberries. They're a little salty from the ocean air and it accentuates their delicious flavor.
I'm aching to be back down by the beach and away from this town. I know in the miles ahead of me, I'll be processing what happened between Mark and I. I dwell a bit on my drinking habit. I can't tell myself that I won't drink again out here - the moment I restrict and bind myself is the moment I buck and revolt on the self-imposed punishment and restriction. I think about the addiction that runs through my family and blood and how I need to mediate and understand my relationship to alcohol.
I just want to do what I know I can do right: walk fast and far away from here.