My sketchy plan to be well rested likewise failed. Once I laid down for the night, my mind wandered through my camping supply list repetitively. I imagined myself getting ready on a routine morning and checking off everything I used daily. Feeling assured I covered all urgent contingencies, and convinced I could survive on apples if I must, my thoughts wandered beyond my packing and prep progressing to the weekend itself: what expectations did he have?
While building my pile of gear now waiting near the door for its first soirée into the mountains, I assumed the concept of separate tents implied ‘not a date,’ but maybe it just wasn’t that kind of date. As unforthcoming and compendious as our business encounters, I’d find no surprise in his taking an egregious time frame to get to know a woman, or anyone for that matter. I imagined he courted women – I envisioned him as the courting type – so the likelihood of my possessing such appeal might not be improbable and this weekend was merely an introduction. Trying to reflect and analyze his actions to date, my mind kept getting songs, or at least one specific song, from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers stuck in my brain, which definitely didn’t help me sleep.
Assuming the possibility from the other end of the dating spectrum, I didn’t pack condoms. I had birth control covered, but I wondered if I should prepare for an unexpected, impetuous, sexual opportunity in the forest. How exactly does a woman prepare for that kind of encounter? Walking around with a condom in my backpack would be wise, but then when he made an advance, especially with no prior indication that he wanted to have sex, and I conveniently discovered one handy would indicate I expected the unexpected. That would be tricky to explain.
Ideally, responsible adults have this conversation before spending the night together, but in his case, that logic was faulted after ‘conversation.’ Imagining him revealing his sexual history to me when I barely received an invitation for the weekend seemed unlikely. Likewise, such disclosures on his part would require me to be similarly forthcoming and nothing in my past bore resurfacing, especially on a first date. Perhaps I should keep in mind that this was a first date, but then again, maybe it wasn’t a date at all. Ugh! I packed my clothes for the weekend with barely a second thought, but the topic of safe sex had me uncomfortably tangled in unwanted confessions and intimate disclosures.
I considered resolving my dilemma rationally. If he didn’t want to have sex with me, all of this was a mute point; no condoms would be necessary. If he did want to have sex with me, he should tell me that. In fact, he could just do me when he picks me up. I could be wearing a skirt to work on Friday and just happen to forget to wear panties and he’d notice and then I’d find myself on the kitchen table on the receiving end of….
Clearly, this train of thought cancelled out my previous intention to be pragmatic. I admit I ogled his jeans for a moment as he left the office, and yes, I ogled him every time he left the office, but beyond that, I certainly hadn’t fantasized about him for more than a moment or two. Now I found myself trapped in the sexy pajama debate all over again. My impulsive fantasies obviously indicated something inside of me wanted the Lumberjack to see me beyond just his friendly, neighborhood firewood clerk, but for the moment I needed to backtrack to my challenge at hand: did I need to pack condoms?
If I didn’t want to discuss our sexual histories, we would at least acknowledge having negatively tested for any STDs. My last test, post Jason, put me in the clear. If the Lumberjack received similar results since his last sexual encounter, I would not need to worry about carrying anything in my backpack except food and water, and maybe a can of aerosol whipped cream.
But what if he hadn’t been tested? Or worse, if he does have an STD? Of course a condom would be essential, because I won’t have sex with him otherwise. But if that were the case, would he be responsible enough to have them? Alternatively, if he were concerned about my STD status, he would probably bring along protection for his own benefit.
I began to wonder, if he did have any diseases, would he tell me the truth? It doesn’t change the necessity of providing protection, but it would certainly change my desire to sleep with him, or spend time with him at all if he wasn’t honest with me. But how would I know? I didn’t perceive him as dishonest or phony, in fact, I guessed him to be pretty matter-of-fact, even if he didn’t say much. I liked to think what he did say was genuine. But how would I know what he really admitted or thought or felt?
And this brought me back to my initial quandary: was he even interested in me? This would be an area where the directness I presumed in his character would idyllically surface. Maybe I should just view this weekend as an opportunity to explore his character first and foremost. This weekend could be an introduction of sorts – a weekend of intense getting-to-know each other. Sure, he piqued my curiosity, and I wanted to disprove the implications Bonnie made about him, but how do lengthy introductions work with the strong, silent type?
Perhaps the opportunity to know him from the inside out, with an entire weekend together alone, went beyond the flirtatious fantasies I imagined about the Lumberjack, to provide without the insistence upon words, useful insight about the man. Becoming intimate, and not necessarily sexually, eliminated so many of the practical concerns of unprotected sex, that I enjoyed the sense of calm it evoked. Maybe I would be able to fall asleep tonight.
I considered my own responsibilities aside from him. Preaching and reevaluating myself these past six months allowed me to closely examine my judgment when it came to men, and if I couldn’t even figure whether or not to pack face wash, I certainly had no business contemplating the future longer-term prospects of jumping in bed with the Lumberjack, especially since that opportunity might not even exist. The simple possibility of breaking my dry stretch kept me thinking about him physically, but his character and mannerisms likewise aroused me differently, leading me to contemplate the prospect of this weekend crossing beyond sexual territory and towards my desire to know him other ways.
Building a greater distance between me and my past relationships needed to happen, and continued to happen, but stepping into any kind of new relationship might be more than I really was prepared to embrace. I considered that I should take this weekend as an opportunity to simply enjoy nature, to find some peace and tranquility, and to have someone else nearby to make sure I don’t get eaten by a bear. I ought to make this weekend about calming myself, not expecting anything in particular, and if I happened to learn something about him, that would just be an extra.
I closed my eyes, took several deep breaths and tried to clear my mind. Even though I calmed my body and my breathing, I kept seeing those eyes and those curls and I let myself imagine what he looked like wearing a smile. But then I imagined lying in my tent like on previous camping weekends, gazing at the starry sky scattered across the blackness of night. The neighboring mountains waiting to be explored awaited me tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and anything beyond that was farther away than I wanted to rush to get past. I wanted to slow down, and I needed to slow down, and at some point, I finally fell asleep.