There are a couple things I really don't like. I don't like waking up really early, especially before sunrise, to go on any kind of journey or adventure. I don't like walking in the woods if there isn't anyone around. Did you see "The Blair Witch Project"? Do we need to go over this again? Being in the woods is very scary and if you aren't careful you will die. Back in the glory days of my youth, nearly four years ago, we all went on a camping trip in Uwharrie National Park. This was the infamous trip where we drank a lot of beer and whiskey, sometimes mixed together, and I got sat down and talked to about the fact that it was very clear how I felt about my now future husband. During this session, where I spilled the sinful feelings I'd been having to my dear friends Karla and Carissa, I said something I will always regret - not because I didn't mean it, but because, damnit, no one should EVER say anything like it. I told them that "oh, I don't know, Justin, he...he makes me feel so alive!." Here's something totally awesome: J was in the woods, eavesdropping, and heard that part. The boy I was trying to impress. I wanted him to think I was so cool, and that's what he heard. He still brings it up from time to time, and says that he liked it. I mean, I suppose it's flattering, sure, but let's not count on my saying that ever again unless I land an acting role in a porno. Or a religious film. The point is that I don't mind that kind of trip into the woods.
And it turned out that I didn't need to worry about J thinking I was cool because we got together just fine. Also because of the story I'm about to tell you, which will make it clear that nobody needs to worry about anybody being cool in this relationship, because we are way beyond that.
J woke up this morning before 6 a.m. after a night of restless sleep. Why? Because we were going to see the bald eagles! He's been wanting to drive out to Jordan Lake, apparently the best place to spot the elusive creatures on the east coast, for some time now, and going at dawn or dusk, he said, would increase our chances of spotting the birds. He got showered and gathered his binoculars, and I, because I am an amazing partner, pulled on some sweatpants and agreed to go. We had two options - we could drive out to a bridge over the lake and hang out there, or we could park and hike to the actual eagle observatory spot, which, oh, by the way, is also a popular gay hangout. I told J I'd rather the bridge. Not because of the gay thing. In fact, I would have liked it if we'd been joined by some happy lovers. We could have talked about the wedding. I chose the bridge because, as I mentioned above, I don't like to hang out in the woods, especially if the woods are deserted and murderers could be lurking behind every dense growth of brush, and especially after I've been woken up before the sun comes out to head into the deserted, murderer-infested woods.
But when we got out to the Lake, I felt bad and told him we should just go ahead and check out the observation point. The minute we'd started down the path to the water I regretted this decision, and acted out by pouting and scowling and looking behind me every ten seconds or so for dangerous persons. J told me, "You aren't making this very fun," and I explained to him that I hadn't wanted to come. Luckily the excitement of eagles kept J, at least, in a good mood, and our spat lasted only a few seconds. Once we reached the lake, after about a 15 minute walk, I felt better. It was sunny and open and calm and I became more reasonable and optimistic about humans and remembered that most do not want to kill anybody. We immediately saw a white egret, which put us in the mood for more, and finally, after waiting patiently, J spotted a great bird in the distance, raised the binoculars to his face, and declared success. While it didn't fly close enough for us to determine with absolutely certainty that it was a bald eagle, the white head and large body seemed to suggest that that was all it could be. It felt good. After all, that was what we'd gone out there for. Some of us had even lost sleep over the situation.
After waiting a little while longer and not spotting anything else we started back on the path towards the car. I wasn't scared anymore. Maybe because we'd lived through so much already, or maybe because of the great magic of birding and its supreme power over one's soul. Probably not the latter, not for me anyway, but J, he was joyous. He went down to one of the tiny beaches by the water and with a stick he'd been using to clear the path of spider webs (when he did run into one he'd drop his belongings and shriek - we all have fears) to write "Eagles!" in the sand. He ran back like a little boy full of unchecked glee, stood before me and asked, "Do I make you feel alive?"