I do love my ma and pa
not the way that I do love you."
I gave her my rain pants but her jacket was cotton and her shoes were soaked.
I was pulling Athena with my head down and my eyes on the few feet ahead of me, avoiding the rain on my face.
She began singing and as I looked over at her she held her head upwards towards the sky catching the thick raindrops on her chilled face.
Without looking at me, she said, "Join me, Angela. You know this song. You be Jade and I'll be Alexander." Then she slowly peered over at me as a grin grew on her lips and leapt into the air with excitement at the prospect of a duet.
I sing in the shower and in deserted areas when I think no one is around. But B had already busted me when we met and if I hadn't been singing we might have never met.
The wind upped it's force and the rain followed suit as I gripped harder on Athena's poles.
"Ok, lets start from the beginning."
We sang the Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zero's hit "Home". Bella would fill in the blanks when I forgot the lyrics and giggle at me when it was our third round of practicing and I still blanked on the same phrases.
Bella was the first Australian Woman to walk with me. She walked a full day and camped with B and me for a night. Bella's mother lived close by and brought us a home-cooked Indian Curry, which was heavenly to my taste buds as I was starting to crave something other than B's spaghetti. We laid out on the tarp and collected constellations like seashells. I learned how to find the Southern Cross and identify Scorpio.
Bella left that morning but returned two more times for a joint walkabout with me.
It was the second visit that I discovered her love of singing and her hunger for exploring life. She had just graduated from a University in the U.S. and met me during her short return home for a family visit.
She memorized spoken word as easily as a favorite song and performed them both with guttural passion.
When we sat at the campfire I would watch her hands move and wiggle, as the energy pulsing through her body was vibrant and ached for a way to move through her. She would often have to stand, stretch and move about to assist in the aliveness of her dancing energy.
She worshipped the sun. She never missed a sunrise or sunset while walking with me. Her hunger for life infused me with a raw and youthful wonder.
She was like a swimmer poised on the diving board ready to jump off into a graceful exhibition into the unknown of tomorrow. Although I am walking a decent distance everyday, I haven't always been spontaneous or gone with the flow of situations so easily. I found her willingness to feel joy in the unknown refreshing and inspiring.
She has flown back to South Carolina where she will begin a road trip across the U.S. We shared a mutual love for the South, with it's fried but homemade cookin', bluegrass, banjo's and friendly waves to passing neighbors. Our mouths watered as we talked of corn bread and collard greens.
We continued singing as we approached one of the markers B had given me in his cryptic directions to find him. B had gone a day ahead of me as I waited in town for Bella to join me. I knew it was time for me to go on without B and get back into my solitude and rhythm. I asked for two days to learn the last bits I could from him and it landed on the same timeframe that Bella would be joining me.
The rain slowed enough for me to take another look at the directions B had given me:
60 Zig Zag.
T on side.
Right turn dirt road.
Grid of metal.
River mouth on right.
Water birds on left.
Whistle. Meditate till I approach.
We were doing well as we were approaching the metal grid across the dirt road.
The dusty path was turning to sludge as our shoes were singing along with suction as they sank deeper with each step. We could see the ocean as we walked up the hill. We had reached the end of our instructions as the rain pummeled and challenged the volume of our voices. We began singing a new tune that consisted of two words. "We're meditating!"
We giggled at ourselves in our poorly poncho'd clothes as the rain persisted and we were more than ready to be taken to the safety of camp. With his characteristically calm stride, B walked out from behind a tree and waved us in his direction. He had brought an umbrella but we all knew it was useless at this point.
"The rain's about to get worse. We'll have a little break long enough for you to set up your tent. It will take about 15 minutes to walk to camp. Bella, try to walk in my footprints. Angela, you pull and I'll push Athena. Follow my tracks to lead you to camp. You ready?" He placed his hands on Athena's handlebars and we all began a fast-paced hike into the soft sand.
We weaved deep into the sand dunes till we reached a steep hill where B's tracks seemed to stop. B proceeded to give us the run down of what was about to happen. It entailed lifting 100 lb Athena off the ground and walking through the edge of the hill in the grasses in an attempt to leave no tracks behind. Already soaked and out of breath, I looked at Bella with an apologetic glance, "Sorry, you probably didn't know you were in for a weekend of survival training. He's not paranoid, he's trying to show me things that may help me in the future." I grabbed the front wheel while B and Bella took the back wheels. When we reached the well-hidden encampment I quickly got to the task of putting up the tent.
Bella and I squeezed into the tent with wet bodies and had lost our enthusiastic rendition of Singing in the Rain by the time we collapsed on the tent floor. But the lighthearted laughter returned as we attempted to change out of our skin-tight soaked clothes. We waited in the tent for the rain to cease, but it never did that night. We shared memorized poems and sang through the night till the suns light woke us. Bella jumped out of the tent and ran to the ocean for the rising sun.
The last time I saw her she had made a surprise visit before her flight to South Carolina. I was already a week and a half walk north of where she lived, which was a four and a half hour drive one-way for her. She brought me roasted vegetables she made and lamb chops from her mom. She also threw in my beloved cappuccino and a beanie she picked out to keep my head warm in the evenings.
There is depth of love and familiar connection that I know we will cultivate from distant continents while on our own great adventures.
Before she got back into her car I asked for a favor, "Enjoy some corn bread and collard greens for me. We'll share this together when we meet again."
We began our duet of "Home" as I walked away and she drove off.
Keep Shining, Bella.