There is something wonderful about a week in the woods, something purely primal. Beyond all the workshops I attended, the climb training, the brutal trial and error process of learning how to set up a conflict mediation and advocacy team, I learned something new about loving myself. Or maybe I already knew this from traveling, in any case I was reminded that if you spend enough time away from proper civilization you begin to be more free of its self-limiting constraints. I am dirty. Despite having showered twice since returning, it will be a few more showers before I wash the woods away from my body, and I am in no hurry. The elements of the cascadian landscape so thoroughly blended onto my face, legs, hands and hair I became just one more animal moving about in the woods. An animal, admittedly with a great deal of baggage, a tent, and a coffee and nicotene addiction.
I think it is incredibly powerful to spend time away from mirrors, and to allow yourself to roll in the dirt for days without washing, without "renewing." If washing is renewal, what are we renewing? Our vow to chastity? To civilized "humanity"? It is a good thing to challenge. I have not vowed off styling my hair or picking outfits based on criteria other than utility, but I am powerfully reminded that all is not what we make it to be. There can be more, but by more I mean less. Less of everything we associate with the urban environment. Less pollution, less concrete, less smug judgmental fashion-whoring, less self-flagellating nihilism. We can do better. We are doing better.
My week with ecodefense warriors, poets, queers and radicals of all stripes in the woods gave me something camp trans has failed to do: Intense political inspiration. I love CT and value it as a powerful healing space for transfolk, but I want more than healing for myself.
I learned a ton of useful tools, and got to climb and descend fifty feet or so in a tree hanging from a rope and harness. I had crushes for sure, but one of them I really connected with in a way that's left me shaken. I'll call them "Potter" here, Potter is hella amazing. I feel like trying to describe exactly how so would trivialize them. So I'll leave it at hella amazing. Potter is a badass punkish travelling kid who taught me how to play "Caleb Meier" and then we kissed forty feet up in a tree for the first time. It was a little epic, if awkwardly orchestrated. Potter is genderqueer in a totally complimentary way to how I am genderqueer, I think. They identify more or less as F to M to F and/or F - fag/twink etc. Queer. queer. queer. I'm not in a good place to deconstruct the genderedness of our connection, and I probably wont ever, but I'll just say it was good to have a romantic connection be as genderfluid as I feel in myself.
Of course falling for travelling kids is dangerous business. Potter left the gathering with a promise (maybe?) of looking me up in portland, but declined exchanging concrete contact info. The reality of having a few days of intense connection with a person and then having them leave quite possibly never to see you again is harsh, but a learning opportunity. What do I want from partners, lovers, friends? Where is the line between what I need and what I want? Regardless of the outcome or whether I ever see potter again, I had this profound and valuable experience.
How do you learn to just value your experience without necessarily expecting more? I think the hopeful ache in my heart is just that. Learning. Growing hurts and I am overloaded with emotion thinking about that whole week. A lot of love, lust, crying, inspiration, daring and fury.