I spent a second night with couch surf host Uma at the farm down in broad Dyerville Flat beside the swollen river. Uma had recently started living with Torben, a German she had met at a meditation retreat center in Mississippi. The two of them had maintained contact through Facebook and began a relationship after he decided to leave the monkhood. It rained hard on Uma’s trailer as the three of us ate oatmeal crosslegged on the floor of her trailer.
I hadn’t eaten anything else by the time I walked down the main road of tiny, rundown Weott at dusk. I had hoped to pick up a snack before dinner at the town store, but it had closed several years earlier. I had been soaked by hard rain approaching town, but with no one out in the open I resolved myself to a cold night in my tent at a nearby campground. Just then, like magic, Aurora came out to grab something from her car. She asked me how I was doing and I resolved myself to ask for what I wanted: ”Actually, I’m really hungry.” She offered to make me an english muffin and disappeared inside to ask permission while I waited wet on the porch. Another man came out, gave me a once over, and asked me if I was a cop. I took off my toque and replied that I wasn’t. He looked me up and down a second time and invited me in.
It was clear something was going on, but the truth was that I was cold and wet and happy to play dumb in exchange for a roof. The offer for an English muffin had matured into scrambled eggs, and soon I was sitting comfortably on the couch handing out photographs and admiring the decor. Later, we watched the caretaker’s favourite movie, Granny’s Boy, and I fell asleep uncomfortably on the bunk bed in the corner.
This man was among the most energetic of the group, telling all kinds of stories that just could have been true. In one, he jumped a freighter ship to Amsterdam with nothing but a backpack filled with oranges. In another, he tree sat in a redwood tree for three years. This tattoo, he told me, are the initials of his twin sons, who died in childbirth.