John picked me up from Phillipsville and drove me to his house, a few miles off the freeway. He was the most prolific Couch Surfing host of Southern Humboldt, gregarious with his attitude and his storytelling. As we pulled into his home, nestled beside a swollen creek in the hills, he mentioned that he shared his land with a tenant, a ”young girl”; my mind immediately raced to fantasy. When Amy walked in an hour later, I was like a Looney Tunes cartoon character, complete with gaping jaw, bulging eyeballs, and pounding heart extended six feet from my body.
The next day, the three of us drove the windy road to the Sinkyone wilderness, arriving in time for a spectacular sunset. We descended a steep trail to the beach and Amy and I walked north along the rocky coastline. She danced gently from rock to rock in fashionable boots unsuited for the terrain as I snapped photos.
900 miles later, after days of self-reflection and hours of meditation, it was interesting and somewhat disconcerting to see myself fall so easily into lust, and to be reminded – again – just how fickle interpersonal relationships can be. It’s an odd part about being a man, that all it takes is one sashay of round hips to obliterate memory of our names, let alone our integrity.
Jamie was John’s other tenant; he was a Buddhist monk about to move to a monastery in the Ozarks. On the table was a novel fronted with a provocative photograph of a young woman in her underwear. He flipped it over; ”I don’t need the temptation.”