Summer is the best time to be in my own sprawling coastal community. While the HUGs (Highly Urbanized Gays, something I used to be and, admittedly through this trip, a status I am seeking to reclaim, albeit temporarily) stay clear of my homeland, the summer beauty of this area is what lured me here.
I write this while my car is in for a tune-up before the big trip. I walked down the street from the auto shop and stumbled upon an oceanfront park I have never explored. I ambled along the rocky beach before retreating to a shaded picnic table with a million dollar view of the cresting waves and the silhouette of the gently rolling mountainous landscape of Vancouver Island in the background. It’s simultaneously calming and exhilarating. Should’ve brought my camera. [These photos are from the general area, posted on Google Images.]
Am I really leaving this? Yes, the need for a HUG moment has churned for too long within me. Knowing I am spending the bulk of my summer vacation elsewhere, I have spent recent weekends and the past few days cramming in all the outdoor beauty this area has to offer. Yesterday, I biked to a jetty about twenty kilometers from home, taking in an idyllic northern beachfront as a group of kayakers set off for an evening paddle. (Note to self: I must investigate kayaking options upon my return. Hadn’t I planned to buy one when I first moved here nearly eight years ago?)
Peddling home, I exchanged curious looks with a coyote crossing the road and, later, a deer, patiently waiting for the right moment to saunter across the highway. Two days earlier, I cycled farther from the ferry terminal, toward the mill which is the biggest local employer. I stopped where I always do at a little cove where I have a ritual of dipping my bike tire in the ocean, just as I did twenty-one years ago with my AIDS Project Los Angeles Buddy’s wheelchair tire in Santa Barbara in the final month of his life. It is my way of honoring Stephen and thanking him for the strength and hope he instilled in me.
I have hiked each morning with my dog along a local trail which begins a mere two blocks from my house. I don’t dare venture too far, as I have no sense of direction and I got lost in these trails sixteen years ago with a school group before I ever decided to move here.
There is more to do and see, but time ticks and I’ll come up short in this cram session. I can explore more upon my return.
I regularly bemoan the fact that I mistakenly moved here on my own. A better plan would have been to find a partner and hope he too would feel a strong connection to this land (and water). Waiting for that guy to come along, I might never have moved here. This is the season, however, when I don’t care about being alone. I am reinvigorated by this place. This is when the move doesn’t feel like a mistake.
I will soon head South, happy to reconnect with my Californian friends and to take in all that my old haunts of West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Malibu have to offer, but there is a good chance I will be thrilled to return here as the vacation winds down, eager to discover another coastal pearl.
For now, I sit, eyes continuing to gaze upon the ocean as a gentle breeze massages my face. Simply stated, this is a perfect moment.