July 2, 2019 – Newberg, OR
Synchronicity – the simultaneous occurrence of casually unrelated events and the belief that the simultaneity has meaning beyond mere coincidence. (Dictionary.com)
Synchronicity has been a huge force in my life—it’s the reason I ended up in Italy. In November of 1998, a windstorm blew through Western Washington, uprooting a huge evergreen tree and sending it crashing through my Whidbey Island home. I managed to escape through the bedroom window, but the entire front part of the house including the kitchen and living room, were destroyed. It was a catastrophic event, the first in a series of occurrences that would alter my life.
A week after the tree fell, I found an email in my in-box from an Italian named Diego. He’d stumbled across my personal web site, one that I’d just created, with stories and photos from my travels in Central America. How did he find it? He had a friend named Barbara and that day, December 4, was her Saint’s day. His plan was to send her a greeting. He searched Yahoo for the name “Barbara” to find her address, came across my web site, started reading, and was inspired to contact me. We began an email correspondence, met, and were immediately attracted to each other. I had no home (it was demolished), so I took the insurance money and moved to Italy.
Though I stayed with Diego for over 15 years, I can count on my fingers the number of times we travelled or hiked together. He was inextricably tied to his job, leaving the house at 5:30 in the morning and stumbling in at 8:30, so exhausted he would eat and go to bed. On the weekends, he wanted to hang out at the house. “I’m too tired” is a refrain that no doubt is embedded in the walls of our Italian home. I thought he was an adventurer like I was. His emails were full of stories about hiking, parasailing, travelling—had he suddenly changed? Was it something I’d done or not done? At least he didn’t object when I disappeared on weekends to hike with friends.
Brent has said from the beginning that “we met for a purpose”, though I’m still not sure what exactly that purpose is/was. Coincidentally, I met Brent in November of 2018, almost 20 years to the day after the tree fell on my house. I’m not normally in Washington State at that time of year—it’s cold, wet, and dreary—but things were a little “off” in Hawaii and I decided to come back for a bit. It was Emmy, my granddaughter, who brought us together, through her love of dogs and her outgoing nature. Why was Brent there? His campsite was in Auburn, a long way from Renton, but for some reason he decided that night to come to PetSmart in Renton to get food for Loki. Synchronicity?
Brent, like me, would be incapable of looking at the mountain top watchtower in front of my Italian home and not hiking up to see it. He loves adventure, lives for it. The “No Trespassing” signs don’t matter, they’re minor inconveniences. I’ve been exploring alone for years, and finally I have a travel buddy. Sure, we rub each other the wrong way sometimes—along with the positive traits, we share a lot of the bad ones. We both fight the effects of growing up in negative environments and what we criticize in each other are, ironically, the same things we secretly harbor in ourselves.
Did I say Brent was impulsive? The other day, at Joemma Beach, the strident sounds of a female voice drifted up from the parking lot below. “Get the fuck down here. What’s taking you so long?” A male voice from an adjacent campsite replied. “Be there in a bit. I’m getting my fishing stuff.” She persisted with the name calling, though it obviously wasn’t working. Then Brent chimed in. ”Hey, give him a break. He just wants to go fishing.” My stomach tightened as I turned to him. “Don’t get involved.” But for some reason, probably because fishing is the one thing he loves to do, he took it personally. “Give the guy a break,” he persisted, but she’d had enough. “Who the fuck is that up there?” I heard the sound of angry footsteps coming up the hill towards our campsite. Not one, but two young women appeared through the overgrowth, and they weren’t happy. Brent was sitting in his “man cave” polishing shells and the table was strewn with stuff he’d worked on. “Don’t be giving shit to my sister”, yelled the taller one and she lashed out with her foot, knocking over the table and its contents. Oh shit, I thought to myself. I hope Brent doesn’t lose it, but he didn’t.
As they both made their exit, he scooped up his stuff and recovered what he could. The boyfriend came down to apologize, though I thought Brent should have as well—getting involved only aggravated the situation. About ten minutes later the two girls came down—they’d morphed into contrite children. “I’m so sorry. I was just trying to protect my sister. Let me help you clean it up.” We hugged a few times, then they left.
We love Joemma Beach, despite all the drama, but we’re also anxious to leave. We’ll get that opportunity for a few days in July when we drive down to meet friends camped near Astoria, Oregon. Then, hopefully, in August, we’ll head out to Arizona. We’ll likely stop at Burning Man in Nevada on the way. I’ve always wanted to go, and now will be the perfect opportunity. Right now, I’ve momentarily stepped out of my vagabond life to visit my daughter and son-in-law in Newberg. It felt strange last night being surrounded by four walls. I felt claustrophobic, stifled, and I asked if we could open the windows to let in some air. It’s what I’m used to now.
They’ll be leaving to go to Italy at the end of August and I’ll really miss them. Their goal is to start a family, so it looks like I’ll be forever tied to that country, though that’s not a bad thing.