In all the scenarios I’ve created in my head, I never thought we’d find ourselves naked in the hot springs off the cliffs of Big Sur. It had been almost three and half years since we met. At that time, I was mid-adventure on Highway 1, drawn toward a fragmented sign that read “Library” laying near a fence on the side of the road. Beyond the fence rests a raspy, wooden cabin in a sun-filled redwood clearing.
The Henry Miller Library made my budding writer’s heart skip a beat. It skipped two beats after I caught a glimpse of the attractive guy behind the counter. My “Hi!” turned into “May I take your picture?” He was kind to oblige. I was bold.
About 24 hours later, I sent an email to the library. “Attn: Cute Boy Who Worked Monday 2/4/2013.” I passed along the image and thanked him for engaging in my photo adventure. The next day, he wrote back.
Our friendship grew in an old-world kind of way, through letters revealing versions of our lives. This boy from New Jersey, a skilled musician and recovering accountant, became my pen pal. It’s quite entertaining for two writers to use their chosen art form to get to know each other. Years evolved and we did, too. He was “around” through many big changes in my life, like moving from the East Coast to Carpinteria, adjusting to life in California, finding a job, and the journey of a working writer. We had intimacy on an unusual level – we created a space to express ourselves without revealing all the facets of who we really were.
Last summer, he passed through town and we met at Rincon Brewery. No sparks, but it was nice to reconnect and clear any “what ifs”. After Rincon, we lost touch or I quit writing back. Maybe I was a little embarrassed.
It wasn’t until last week when I yearned to get out of the picturesque bubble of Santa Barbara and into the void of Big Sur that I came to the surface. Subject line: “Long-ass time…” If anything, I wanted to clear the air and send a hello. Possibly with a tail between my legs. His response couldn’t have been more gracious – he was happy to hear from me, had a place to stay, an Esalen opportunity, and, most of all, the freedom of Big Sur at will.
Several days later, we’re face to face, stripped and unclothed. Ice broken from dinner at Nepenthe and a jam session to the Smashing Pumpkins and Screaming Trees blaring from the tape deck in my car, as we swirled south along the highway to the hot springs. That evening, I decided to camp under the full moon-lit sky but took the offer to crash at his place for the following two nights. And so began my Big Sur life.
He’d go to work by 9:30, I’d have breakfast, go on an adventure, then swing by the library in the afternoon to talk of my next plans, and we’d schedule a time to reconnect. Aside from a cozy shelter in the woods, he gifted me a place to call home and the potential to become a part of Big Sur. A chance to submerge in the waters, run wild in the mountains, feel the pulse of nature, and connect with my true self with the confidence of knowing I have a safe place, and a friend, to return to.
He flew to N.J. a few days later to visit family, as I made a homestead on Prewitt Ridge for my final nights in the mystical natural world. My last day in Big Sur was a struggle. It hurt to leave. I fled Santa Barbara to be alone but was met with the love and support of the human connection. My intuition pulls me to the wild coast, and now this special friendship became my comfort to stay.