I’d been in Portland for several nights, it was time to head on up the road. There was French toast and pancakes for Breakfast. I got everything packed back in to Walden, including the new laptop. There was a bit more room now without two additional passengers and all of their possessions.
I first headed up to the fancy grocery store I’d been to with M to get a few supplies. On the way there I saw a car wash. Walden was pretty dirty, and I took it as a sign from God that this was the day and way that he should get washed. The people who were washing cars were raising money for a mission trip to Africa or some far-away land. They seemed to believe that they were on a mission from God too. They asked their God to bless me several times before I left. I was happy to give them a little cash in hopes that they would leave the country.
There, in the very same parking lot was a barber shop. It was another sign from God. My hair was getting long, as it hadn’t been cut since before I had left Knoxville ten weeks earlier. It wasn’t too soon. I still carry wounds from elementary school when kids would taunt boys who got hair cuts, and then there was the time in the 80s that I somehow came home with a mullet, and my wife sent me back to get my head unmulleted. For several years now I have had the same person cut my hair, in a house across the street from my first place in Knoxville. She charges $12 or maybe $15, refuses tips, and I don’t have to worry about communicating effectively how my hair should look when I’m through. All that to say, I went in, told a woman to cut my hair about an inch long in the front and about a quarter inch long in the back, and twenty dollars later, I left the place with what seems to me to be a suitable haircut. Happily, it was much less traumatic that I’d imagined.
My destination was Seattle. Some reader of this very blog was foolish enough to invite a stranger–a man who lives in a van–to her home. Further, she and offered to through a party in my honor and get me featured on a local blog. Strangely, her husband and friends humored her. (Her mother, on the other hand, was a bit more concerned and recommended that she see that she had the police on speed dial.) I figured that if I were crazy enough to ask people to tell me where to go, I had a certain responsibility to take them up on it. Who am I to turn down a party in my honor?
I notified Google of the address and headed there. My intent was to stop at a Trader Joe’s or other such place and buy some flowers, but no TJ’s appeared. I had told her to expect me around 5PM, but it was now 4:00 and I was mere minutes away. I sent her a text to let her know that I’d be arriving early. She knew. She had been following my progress on the Where’s Walden page and had been watching my every move. I had created a stalker. She was waiting out front when I pulled up, and she directed me to park out in front of the house, where I’d be sleeping for the night.
As is common for people with five-year-olds, they wanted to go to dinner early. This suited me, as I’d hardly eaten. We went to a cool little southwestern place down by the beach. Afterward we walked on the beach, for a time the five-year-old and I played in the sand.
Back at the house, we made plans to go out to a local watering hole. Several of the neighbors had reported that they couldn’t wait until the following afternoon to meet me and wanted to have a drink at the bar. Husband and I walked down to the bar. The stalker stayed home with the kid. Before we left, I was given a key to the house so that if I needed to get in to use the facilities. I don’t know why people will give total strangers the key to their houses, but it’s not the first time.
The bar was a short walk away and felt like a great neighborhood bar. One side was pub-like; the other half had a pool table and shuffle board and probably darts too. The beer selection was good. As Husband and I swilled our beers, one by one folks called in to say that they weren’t going to make it, apparently they could wait until the next afternoon to meet me. Over a couple of beers we got better acquainted and walked back home. He had a soccer game at 9:00 the next morning, so we made it an early evening.