Of course it didn't last. Before I knew it I had inherited two room mates and a dining room full of people smoking pot on the table mats.
But the older I get the more antisocial I seem to become and the more I value my own company. On the day I visited York River State Park my wife had arranged some some kind of clutter expert to come into the house at an inordinate cost, to move a couple of boxes. I couldn't wait to escape to catch the sunshine and avoid the inevitable argument that would be brewing. It also made me think obliquely about a woman I once wrote a feature about known as "Clutter's Last Stand," whose methods included making me crawl under my desk so as she could wack my backside with a vacuum cleaner attachment.
Heading north with the blue water to the east and the west of me, I could hardly contain the soaring sense of freedom. One day, maybe I'll head west and I won't stop until I see the Pacific. It may be a let down, though. I saw the Pacific recently in Baja California and it looked rather like the Atlantic.
While I'd like to see soaring serrated mountains again, I made do with the forested hills and estuaries of Virginia. I had been to this state park before, but managed to miss the correct entrance. I followed a small road down to a boat ramp, walked around and scratched my head. There were no trail maps and no trails. I drove back up the narrow road and was somewhat alarmed to see a large white pickup following me closely. I associate pickups with McCain/Palin stickers and guys with hunting rifles hidden in their beards who'll shoot you at the first hint of a funny foreign accent and ask questions later.
I turned left at a crossroads and the pickup turned left. Then I got lost again and turned around in a gas station. The pickup followed me to the point of almost blocking me off. I lowered the window and found myself staring at an elderly gentleman.
"I saw you back there and thought you were looking for the state park. You've missed it again," said the kindly old gentleman, who proceeded to point me in the right direction.
I slowly replaced the magic squirting ink pen that I had poised to attack a thickset maniac.
It was hot at the state park but I persevered on a trail through the sticky woods. Then I hung out and read a book on the beach. Half a lifetime ago I would have felt ill at ease.
Now I felt fine. I had the wilderness to myself. It couldn't have been better. Well it could have been but I won't go there.
Then on the way back I ended up on a small road to nowhere by some mean ranch houses. With a start I realized I had been here before but it was dark and mysterious. I didn't want to remember, but in a curious way I did.