Last night John texted to tell me where to find the towels and invited me to take a soak. I took a peek upstairs and discovered The Tub. Deep and shiny white. Oh, such a dream tub. We are having a stand-off, the bath and I. Though I desire a long soak, I cannot bring myself to fill it just for myself. It just seems too indulgent after months of measured sips and careful conservation; after showing only once a week. And in this time of drought. Maybe tonight, I think. Maybe I just need more time.
I spend hours this morning looking online for places to live next month, trying to set appointments for this weekend. No easy task since I have spent at most twenty minutes in Merced before. All of them at the bus station where I filled a ziplock of oatmeal with water from the bathroom tap, cold soaking breakfast to eat on the bus that would take me to Yosemite Valley to hike the JMT last summer. Feeling for the first time a tiny bit like the hikertrash I have become, but never expecting to be moving there a year later. Or to be solo hiking the PCT for that matter.
I spend most of the afternoon at the general store, on the long benches out front where hikertrash accumulates. Most everyone is new to me, but Slumberkat and Maestro are here, with their smiling faces and contagious energy. I devour a veggie sandwich, and ask around about the possibility of getting to Sacramento tomorrow. It doesn’t look good. Bus service is nonexistent. And the few cars driving about town seem to always be headed the opposite direction.
It’s just me and wifi and blogging tonight. And the difficult choice between Blue Planet and Mad Men DVDs. I fall for David Attenburgh’s gentle narrative, his promise to take me to the ‘last wildernesses’. But even this interlude, a quiet night curled up on the couch, cannot escape the pull of the PCT. The caribou become hiker herd “traveling over two thousand miles each year….the largest overland migration made by any animal….constantly on the move.” Everything is a metaphor for the trail these days, the trail for everything else.
I think again of the bath, even sitting (mostly clothed) in its welcoming depths, but I just can’t do it. So I make hot chocolate and cozy up on the couch with all the wild world before me.