memorial day lesson plans…

This Memorial Day holiday weekend was chock-full of interesting, fascinating lessons for yours truly:

1) If you actually ask for something, you just might get it.

For a couple of days I had been thinking about e-mailing CuteNerdBoy to ask him if he wanted to take a day trip on one of the days of this past weekend, because I just wanted to get out of town for a little while. After our Santa Barbara day trip in December he had said he’d like to take another road trip with me sometime, if I were so inclined. So, because I’m me, I hemmed and hawed a little, but finally e-mailed him early Thursday morning to ask him, thinking I was probably way too late, but hey, what the hell. Late afternoon on Thursday he sent his response: he was going camping in Big Sur the entire weekend, but I was certainly welcome to join if I wanted to. Oh, I wanted to. And I did. So Friday evening CuteNerdBoy, MoulinRougeFan (his friend for nearly 20 years, of whom I have certainly heard much) and I headed to San Simeon, where we shared a room, then headed up to Big Sur on Saturday morning to find a campsite.

2) Potentially stressful situations can be surprisingly unstressful as long as everyone knows possible outcomes.

CuteNerdBoy and MoulinRougeFan hadn’t been able to make campsite reservations because the campsites were all booked months in advance, but they had done such things in the past and had no problems, thanks to cancellations and no-shows. Such was not to be the case this time, because we spent close to eight hours trying to find an open campsite, in public and private campgrounds. Finally, at a little after 5pm, the fabulous Dan at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park found a spot for us. The uncertainty of knowing where we would be sleeping that night was, perhaps, of a wee bit of concern, but because we knew the lack of campsite was a distinct possibility, no one of us was horribly stressed out, which meant we could pretty much play it by ear. I won’t say it was relaxing, but cool was kept by us most of the time, so it all worked out. Even if Saturday night’s campsite was smack dab in the middle of paths to the restrooms and showers.

3) Nature is breathtakingly beautiful. *spit*

On Saturday, while we were waiting to hear about a possible campsite, my two lovely friends took me on a little hike (actually, more of a rustic walk) to check out an ocean view and a waterfall. As we came upon the view – a stunning one, to be sure – CuteNerdBoy, in his wry way, stated, “It’s so beautiful I could spit.” That became our mantra for the weekend. Whenever we saw something in nature that was gorgeous (practically the only adjective that came to my mind all weekend for all the incredible beauty), someone would say something like, “Look at that view!!”, then all of us would pretend to spit. Amusing for us, needless to say, because sometimes it’s fun to be twelve. But with the surplus of unbelievably lovely natural spectacles, we were pretending to spit quite a bit.

4) Unseen forces from the past can work on a sensitive person’s psyche, no matter how she may try to break free.

I had a lot of fun on Saturday, but I spent a good deal of it very much on the quiet side. I thought it was the constant proximity to CuteNerdBoy – and that certainly figured into it, as did the beginnings of my oh-so-enjoyable PMS – but it wasn’t until I was sitting in a prospective campsite (which didn’t pan out), waiting for CuteNerdBoy and MoulinRougeFan to return from scouting out an area, that part of the reason for my withdrawal became clear. I sat at a picnic table, opened my notebook (which became my constant companion for the weekend) and wrote out the date. 5/29/04. As I read that date I felt a cold fist sucker-punch me in the throat. It would have been my late sister’s 42nd birthday. And, had my family not fractured in the last couple of years, it would have been Children’s Day (a family holiday instituted by my parents many years ago).

5) True friends can help to bring a gal out of a funk.

While waiting for MoulinRougeFan at some point, I turned to CuteNerdBoy to apologize for being such a quiet person for much of the day. I felt kind of bad that I wasn’t in the most exuberant of moods and hoped that I wasn’t being a wet blanket. His response (more or less – I can’t remember the exact wording)? “There’s no need to apologize – you don’t have to be vivacious all the time. You just have to be yourself.” I then told him about my sister and the Children’s Day stuff, and he was completely understanding. I started feeling a little better then.

6) Alcohol help with the funk, too.

Well, duh.  The Kettel One dirty martini at dinner was certainly a factor in the lifting of spirits, as was CuteNerdBoy’s buying of a very nice dinner for MoulinRougeFan and me. His reasons? The enjoyable company of two beautiful women. And how he was the envy of every man in the room.

FYI, alcohol can also help bring on a funk, as I found out Sunday night when I, restless and unable to sleep, sat in one of the collapsible chairs near the cold fire-pit of our second night’s campsite (so much better than the first night – a big thanks to MoulinRougeFan for getting up early on Sunday to get it for us) and wrote and cried silently and wrote some more by flashlight, long after the other two had gone to sleep, because, while I doubt I would have had a problem crying in front of CuteNerdBoy, I still don’t like to cry in front of most people, especially people I don’t know all that well. Besides, the only place I could feel as if I had privacy was, oddly enough, outside in the dark forest where no one could see me.

I was up early the next morning and back in that same chair writing dream memories, bundled up in my sweatshirts and yoga pants and two pairs of socks, not to mention wearing my coat, with my 6′ red scarf wrapped around my head and neck. “Good morning, babushka,” I heard CuteNerdBoy say maybe an hour or two later when he finally emerged from his tent, book in hand. Harumph! At least Saturday night, when my scarf was wrapped the same way as we stared at the dying fire, he said I reminded him of the French lieutenant’s woman. Though I’m hoping I wasn’t all pining-looking. Pensive. Yeah, that’s what I was. Pensive. (Oh, shut up.)

7) Despite “Princess and the Pea” inclinations, one can get enough rest “sleeping” in a tent on comforters and a thin sleeping bag to make it through the next day.

I was frankly surprised, because I am so horribly princess-like in that regard, but I managed to get enough rest to actually be somewhat energetic each day. I also discovered, though, that when sleeping in the great outdoors, I snore. I was working the Breathe-Right strips, but to no avail. By Sunday night I was tired enough to actually sleep through most of the night, but my snoring nearly got me kicked out of MoulinRougeFan’s tent (which she was gracious enough to share with no-camping-equipment-me) and into CuteNerdBoy’s tent (he’s quite the snorer himself). Damn. I should have snored more.

8) A princess-like personality can also deal with no showering for a couple of days.

None of us showered on Sunday or Monday, and hadn’t washed our hair since Friday (at least in my case), but it wasn’t too horrible. Brushing of teeth, cursory cleaning of face, and a soak in a mineral hot tub are enough to feel kind of okay. Must have been the singular lack of contaminants in the fresh mountain air. Of course, there was that whole, “I can’t believe I’m actually risking smelling bad and looking grubby and Frieda Kahlo-esque around CuteNerdBoy not to mention the whole no-make-up/cute clothes/styled hair” thing. But hey, after a while a gal’s gotta let a guy see her for who she is, right? Even if that gal isn’t someone who looks all that cute sans make-up and soap. Like, for instance, your humble chronicler.

9) Mineral hot tubs feel really, really good. Especially on bare breasts.

On the way home on Monday we stopped off at Sycamore Springs for nice soak. It was my first time, and their umpteenth time. CuteNerdBoy opted to keep on the trunks (I think because of my presence – I don’t think he’s all that shy in that regard, but the whole world, including him, pretty much knows about my feelings for him, so he probably thought discretion was best), MoulinRougeFan had none of my hang-ups and enjoyed water as G-d intended. Me, I started out with my bathing suit on (which is now rather big on me – it’s not supposed to look like boyshorts and I felt like my boobs were lost in the now-too-large support cups) and within minutes stripped to the waist. I didn’t go any further because I have tummy issues. I was under water most of the time, so it wasn’t a big deal, and besides, it’s not like CuteNerdBoy hadn’t seen most of my breasts by this point anyway. Hey, I may have tummy issues, but I think it’s no secret that I have no breast issues.

There are so many more lessons that I learned, incidences and moments that could take up an entire journal (like the incredible blue jays and butterflies that were everywhere, or the friendly drunk fella at a neighboring table Sunday night that insisted on sharing his food and wine with us – despite the occasional discomfort of his long time female friend of over 35 years – or the vision of tens, if not hundreds of elephant seals lying on the beach, or the three of us checking out a library book sale, with me ending up buying the most books [oh, what an addiction I have!], or how it seemed to be “Jokingly (I hope) pick on the new kid” weekend, or my occasional melodrama-queen utterances, amongst so many others – who knew three and a half days could hold so much?), but I would have to say that the most important lesson I learned was:

10) Whatever CuteNerdBoy is to me, to him I am a dear friend. Period.

Again, nothing earth-shattering. Nothing all that revelatory, honestly. I’ve certainly known it for a very long time. But I’m at least a little bit closer to, if not exactly accepting it, at least acknowledging the truth of it. Once upon a time he may have had honest mixed feelings for me, but those days have been long gone. And, as I’ve said a billion times before, I need to come to terms with that. Somehow.

See, I’ve always known that he’s naturally affectionate with his female friends. Not that I’ve seen him with any female friends before, aside from Sarriah and RockerChick, but it’s something I’ve instinctively felt to be true. After watching him and MoulinRougeFan all weekend, with their casual touches and hugs and little kisses (not entirely unlike his and mine, if somewhat more comfortable in nature) borne of nearly twenty years of friendship, it was all brought home to me that much stronger.

Again, the PMS and the whole sister/family emotional overtones certainly didn’t help my state of mind, and as I watched their friendly familiarity I found myself envious of their friendship, jealous of her for her place in his life, even though I honestly like her as a person. I think she’s a pretty cool lady, and I knew, even before we met, that I’d like her. Intellectually I know I have no reason for the jealousy I was, and still am, feeling. I have absolutely no place to be jealous. And I hate it when jealousy flares up like that, because I fear that I’m turning into one of those insanely jealous women I both pity and dislike. Funny. I’m never like this when I’m actually in a relationship.

Well, I totally need to come to terms with all of this, because MoulinRougeFan (I really feel she needs another nickname, now that I’ve met her and spent so much time with her – MoulinRougeFan doesn’t begin to describe what she’s really like) is always going to be a part of CuteNerdBoy’s life, as will his other close female friends, and if he and I are to remain friends, then I’m going to have to act like one and not some wilting jealous ninny.

Oh, and I learned one other thing, which I pretty much knew, but had confirmed:

11) Sometimes a girl just wants to cuddle.

Okay, there were more than a few times that I just wanted to jump CuteNerdBoy’s bones. In that mineral hot tub, for instance, where I would have dearly loved to say to MoulinRougeFan, “Would you mind taking a walk while I give your very dear friend the ride of his life? Thanks ever so much.” But most of the time I would have been fine with him and me just sitting or standing with arms around each other. That’s the sort of touch I really miss, much more than sex. That simple companionship.

I have to say, though, it was rather cute when CuteNerdBoy looked a little surprised that I shared a bed with MoulinRougeFan instead of him that first night – though he knew he probably wasn’t far off the mark when he earlier half-joked that he didn’t trust me to keep my hands to myself. Or when the three of us had dinner Saturday night and, while she had gone to the restroom, he leaned over the table and asked me if I liked this long-time friend of his. It touched me, tipsy and just the tiniest bit high as I was, that he cared about my feelings for his dear friend. I answered in the affirmative, because that was the truth, and he smiled and said, “I thought you would.”

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