phillumenist.

[fi-loo-muh-nist]

noun

  1. a collector of matchbooks and matchboxes.

Wow. Orcas Island. I had about a 45 minute drive from the ferry to the retreat center on the other side of the island. With each turn, I gasped. At one point, I cried a little bit. The trees are magnificent. There’s water everywhere. The mountains surround me on all sides. The roads are named things like “Plum Tree Lane” and “Twin Maples Drive.” There are pastures of sheep and I saw about twelve houses on the whole drive. It’s like a miniature New Zealand and I’m stupidly in love. Downtown is everything you’d want a small mountainous island downtown to be. Quaint and bustling. Coffee shops, art galleries, bookstores, cafes…sheesh.

Bobby is the maintenance guy who had actually gone to meet me at the ferry, even though I had no idea he was planning to. I apologized profusely but he didn’t seem to mind one bit. I think he was thankful for an excuse to go into town.

“I’m so sorry, Bobby! I had no idea you were coming to the terminal!” I said while shaking his hand.

“No worries. Not a single worry! Do you drink beer, Beth? Let me buy you a beer. Well, how’s your energy level? Feel up for the tour? And a beer?”

“I’d love a beer and a tour.” I like Bobby. He has a beard like most of the guys I’ve seen thus far. He walks with a slight limp because he was hit by a car last week. He told me very casually, as if he was actually saying, “I went to the grocery store last week.”

The beers in the cooler were one pint and six ounces. Huge. I chose a local amber and he seemed impressed with my choice as he nodded the whole way up the register in the small general store.

“Let’s go see the spa first because that’s the only place you can’t take an open beer. Cool?”

“Cool,” I agreed.

On the tour, a naked man in the hot tub said loudly, “The weather is always like this!”

I laughed, assuming he was kidding, because this winter has been unusually lovely. Cold still, but very sunny and clear.

“Oh good,” I said, making only eye contact.

Bobby continued the tour. He’s from Wisconsin but has lived here for about two years now. I imagine a lot of people come for a short bit and stay a while. It feels like a magical place full of mossy bridges, cabins with extravagant names like “The Palace”, and people who can’t wait to tell you about their favorite hikes.

In The Palace, dream catchers line each wall and each bunk bed and the woodstove. There is no possible way each and every dream dreamt in this cabin will not be caught.

It’s a bit like summer camp. There hasn’t been a single person I’ve walked by that hasn’t said hello. I’ve been introduced to everyone, “This is Beth. She’s working maintenance this week.” I met a girl working in the shed and she took off her glove, shook my hand, and said, “We should exchange numbers!” I love how easy that was. I think girls who are traveling alone attract other girls doing the same. And that’s cool.

“If you can’t make friends at Doe Bay, then you’re the problem,” is the way Bobby said it.

People here haven’t asked how old I am or where I used to work or what I studied in school. Well one time I thought someone was asking, “How old?” But he was asking, “Are you cold?” Because I was rubbing my hands together aggressively. Yes, I was cold. I am always cold here unless I’m in the hot tub or sauna. I sleep with my sleeping bag completely over my head because the air is frigid. That’s why I was glad when a new fella came to stay in the cabin and decided to build a fire in the woodstove (I’d been warned about the state of it and was settling with space heaters because I didn’t want to be that girl who burnt down The Palace). He is not a phillumenist so he went to the store to buy some matches. I think the welcomed warmth will turn me into a phillumenist, always ready for a fire.

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Top of Mount Constitution at 2,400 feet! Look at that moon…

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I put this cart together like a handy woman

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2 thoughts on “phillumenist.”

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