Today is not the best day of August.
I’m packing up to move on today, after spending almost the entire past month in Seattle. I’m ready to get going in lots of ways — driveway living is only fun for a little while and then campgrounds, with outside space and water hookups and quieter nature sounds, start to seem quite appealing.
But it has been so lovely to slip into my friend Pam’s life for a little while. I haven’t felt like a guest here or even really a visitor and it definitely hasn’t felt like twenty years since we lived in the same city. Instead, I just sort of moved in. I rearranged her kitchen to suit my needs, I established the place on the sofa where I sit when I’m writing in her living room, I left my toiletries in her shower. We’ve gone grocery shopping together, walked our dogs, done laundry… lived life.
Of course, we’ve also done things. We saw a bear (woo-hoo, my first bear!) at Stevens Pass; we camped together at Lake Ozette, including a lovely seven mile hike to the beach and back; we kayaked on Lake Washington; we floated at Green Lake. Well, she paddled on a paddleboard, but I just floated with the dogs.
It hasn’t been the most adventurous month: I stayed in a grand total of five places, and really spent the majority of the month in her driveway. But not every month needs grand adventure.
For the “best of” moment, though, my winner came early: on August 4th, P and R and I were camping at Lake Ozette. Earlier in the day, P and I had taken our long walk to the beach, through beautiful woods, with truly perfect weather. It was gorgeous clear blue skies and sunshine and cool foggy breeze at the beach. Not too hot, not too cold. It was the first time in years that we’d been alone together for any extended period, and our conversation never stopped. P nearly stepped on a snake; we saw deer up close and a bald eagle in the distance.
It was a glorious day. But none of that was what made it the best of August, because that alone would have had some tough competition with the eclipse/bear day. No, what made it the best was at dinner that night. Over grilled sausages, corn-on-the-cob, and salad, the subject of P’s snoring came up. I think I said, perhaps sounding aggrieved, that her snoring wasn’t a problem, it was the not-breathing anymore that was ruining my sleep, and R took that cue and ran with it. By the time he’d finished his extremely calm discourse about how when they’d camped together earlier in the summer, he’d concluded that she was dead, and begun coming to terms with the next steps that he was going to have to take, the practical decisions involved in a tragic untimely death at a music festival, all before her next inhale, I was in tears and P couldn’t speak from laughing so hard. It doesn’t sound funny, I know, but it was. I laughed so hard it hurt.
I don’t know when the three of us will get to go camping together again and I really hope that the next time it’ll be the four of us, including P’s daughter, too (she was at camp). But even if that doesn’t happen anytime soon, I will remember Lake Ozette with pleasure, and am so, so grateful that my fast trek across the country brought me to that place and moment. (And P called a doctor for sleep apnea as soon as we got back to the city.)
I’m not sure what September is going to bring — definitely another driveway, since I’m headed to my friend Suzanne’s now. And hopefully lots of writing. My current version of Grace has taken some unexpected turns, which I guess is good news? It’s interesting, anyway. But Seattle has been a wonderful place to hang out and I’m already looking forward to coming back!