True Life: I Fell In Love

White River Falls

I fell head over heels in love this weekend.

And not just once.

I fell in love multiple times.

It all started with those chocolate brown eyes and that shiny black hair…

As I wandered down the dry, dusty trail to the falls, sweat beading across my brow, he ran past me. Not once, not twice, but three times.

Tail wagging, tongue swinging, eyes begging me to follow. His enthusiasm matched mine. This was going to be a weekend unparalleled to the rest. And his energy only heightened my own.

I don’t know who he belonged to. But his tag said “Killer.” And I fell so deeply in love with him that I was half-tempted to invite this killer to join me on my adventure. But this was a solo trip that I had to do alone.

I fell in love a second time a few moments later with the way the earth started to beat beneath my feet as I drew closer to the waterfall plunging 90 feet off the basalt cliff into the canyon below. My heart now beating in unison, bursting with a love for this new place.

I fell in love with my Airbnb hosts. Chris and Shelley. The way Chris smacked his wife on her behind and the way their laugh lines grew deeper as they spoke of their dreams and plans for the future. The way they hugged me like I was family and made me wish I could stay forever.

Mount Adams

I fell in love with the majesty that is Mount Adams. The way she changed minute by minute. Creating her own weather, her own clouds. The sunset reflecting in bright hues of pink and orange and purple across her snowy face.

I fell in love with the stars. A sky so clear that they each twinkled and danced to their own beat. And I wondered if anyone was out there looking at the same sky, falling in love with me.

I fell in love with the man at the gas station in the old fishing town with no cell service. You had to pay for your gas inside and the pump worked like something out of the 60s. The bell on the door jingled as I walked inside and he jumped, quickly uncrossing his arms and wiping the sleep from his eyes.

Sorry, just taking a little nap,” he muttered with an embarrassed smile, eyes peeking out from the curly blonde hair tucked beneath his oil and dirt covered mesh trucker hat. I passed him $40 and told him to go back to sleep, my heart fluttering in my chest.

Seconds later, I fell in love again. This time with a pair of ice-blue eyes that met mine at the gas pump. The gentleman looked as out of place as I did in that sleepy old town. Top down on his convertible. Button down freshly-pressed shirt. He told me I was beautiful. And I believed him.

I fell in love with the car I shall name Super-Roo. The low clearance Legacy didn’t give me much hope for making it to my campsite. Twenty miles of unpaved, rocky, washboarded, pot-hole ridden forest service road would need to be conquered in order to arrive at my destination. She glided over the ruts like a knife through butter. She didn’t bottom out once. And we made it – an hour ahead of schedule – even passing a jacked-up 4-Runner along the way.

I fell in love with my quaint little campground. The creek emptying into the lake behind me. The resident birds and chipmunks joining me at my campfire for s’mores before my weary eyes grew heavy and I curled up in my sleeping bag before the sun even had a chance to set on the horizon.

Secret Waterfall

I fell in love with the secret waterfall hidden deep in a canyon where a river and creek converge into one. The falls cascade 220 feet down the basalt rimrock with a massive width almost 270 more feet. She was spectacular.I removed my shoes and walked up her face, crystal clear water revealing the soft moss cushioning my bare feet. Negative ions created an instant high and at that moment the love filling my soul gave me the feeling that I was capable of absolutely anything.

The following morning, I fell in love with the sunrise. She was different that morning. Not bright and burning or colorful and breathtaking. Instead she was moody and dark and conjured up a deep emotion in me that I wasn’t even aware of. Tears welled up in the corners of my eyes and ran slowly down my cheeks, masked by the mist and soft rain of the dawn.

Goat Rocks Wilderness

I fell in love with mountains. With green meadows of wildflowers in blues and yellows and reds and whites. With glacial lakes and elk. I fell in love with fresh clean air and sap and ferns and moss. I fell in love with subalpine trees and bird song.

I fell in love with couple after couple on the trail. Laughter echoing through the woods. Each passing giving me hope that someday I’d find a love as rare.

I fell in love with the solo woman on the same trail. You could tell that she’d spent a lifetime laughing in those woods as well. Smile lines carved deep into the corners of her golden eyes as she removed the sunglasses from her face. A stranger. Yet she hugged me like we’d been friends our whole lives. With excitement she threw the heavy pack from her back and tossed her trekking poles aside to pull a crinkled paper map out of her pocket.

“Let me show you where I’ve been!”

And she did. But I wasn’t paying attention to the map. Rather my focus turned to the way her happiness blanketed me. Her enthusiasm for life filling the empty cup my tired soul hadn’t recognized. I was lonely. I had spent the weekend falling in love only to wish I could be loved in return. I wanted to share this with someone else.

She was alone. But she was whole. As I had been only a few mere months before.

But falling in love had damaged me.

And she helped me to realize that falling in love with so many people, places and things, so many experiences…that was okay. But I needed to fall back in love with something else.

And at that moment I did.

This weekend I fell in love. Over and over and over again.

And as my time alone came to an end I fell deeply in love with the one who matters most.

I fell head over heels, madly, passionately, infinitely in love with myself.

I’m proud of you SJ. Don’t ever lose the woman you’ve become. And don’t ever forget to love her the way you love the world.

xoxo

Solo Traveler
Sara Jean

Sara Jean

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