The Inertia

A Love Letter to My Girlfriend: Sometimes I Need to Do This Alone

Being alone doesn’t always mean you’re lonely. Photo: Chris Immler

The Inertia

Babe, I love you, but sometimes I just gotta go out on my own. Now, hear me out. I love traveling with you and after seeing Spain, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Hawai’i, and a lot of California together, I can confidently say that we do it better than any other two people I’ve ever met. But sometimes I just want to hit the road alone. Have to hit the road alone. I can’t explain the visceral feeling behind this, but I can at least try to give you some concrete examples of reasons why I would ever choose to go anywhere without you by my side.

Sometimes I just genuinely like cuddling with my surfboard. Just your man and a thruster sharing the bed in the back of the van. It’s not a love like ours, but it is some type of love. Of course, the feeling of spooning a foam and fiberglass stick is the same as waking up next to you – my sharpie art smudging onto my face in the middle of the night, making me look like Mike Tyson. It can’t hold a candle to your warm skin, long hair, and kisses, but I do like it for other reasons. And like I said before, I can’t quite explain it.

I know you’re a good sport and you always find a way to enjoy whatever situation we’re in, but I end up feeling bad when it’s double overhead and raining. I enjoy a much more carefree, clear minded and tuned in surfing experience when I don’t have to think about you sitting on the beach soaking, or huddled in the van while I’m playing in the ocean for two hours.

I make effort with some things when we travel together that I’ll likely ignore when traveling alone. Something as simple as making a meal has a completely different level of attention when I’m with you. I like how camp cooking becomes an activity for us to do together. It’s fun and unique – much different from cooking at home. I know we both enjoy the challenge of creating culinary masterpieces with a set supply of tools: two trustworthy primus burners and one cast iron pan. However, when I’m alone and the goal is to spend as much time as possible in the water, I’ll often forego formal meals. It’s a simple but large piece of how traveling with you and traveling without you are wildly different. I would never want you sitting in total darkness, eating a large can of cold beans with a few salt packets emptied into it. Perhaps it’s some Pavlovian conditioning of the past 15 years that connects meals like this to having just surfed all day. I like it. I need these little self-imposed pseudo hardships to make me feel like myself again. I know it’s strange, but it’s a part of me. And still, I can’t quite explain.

Finally, babe, there’s the poison oak. You remember that time we tried to take a shortcut descending Sandstone? That time it actually turned out to be the really long way? When we legitimately considered lighting a forest fire off as a call for help because we were so deep and so lost? The kind of poison oak exposure we suffered after plowing our way through those canyons and gullies can be expected on roughly 50% of trips taken north out of the county. I don’t know how it happens. It’s probably the dog. Whatever the cause, though, it ends up everywhere and I don’t want to put you through that with any sort of regularity. It gets in the van’s bedsheets, in the blankets, on all of the clothes, beanies, gloves, and socks. It even gets in the wetsuits. It’s inescapable. As you know from my many homecomings, It even goes up my nose from picking my boogers with urushiol oil covered hands. I know I’m out on a good one when I’ve subconsciously scratched the same place on my leg four times in half an hour and the reality sets in, the first realization that I’ll be dealing with rashes for at least a week. It’s a sign of getting away. It signifies stepping into unfamiliar territory or finding something few people know about. It makes me happy.  As you might guess by now, I can’t quite explain why.

I love you. I love spending time with you and plan on seeing as much of this planet with you as possible. Sometimes, though, I just gotta take off. I hope you don’t take it personally. As a matter of fact, I hope now you see it’s actually because I care about you that I go out on my own sometimes. It would be selfish for me to offer you cold beans in the dark, still soaking wet from sitting in the rain all day and starting to itch from poison oak. That’s downright inhumane. Come to think of it, why do I do this to myself? What the hell is wrong with me?

You know what, screw it. No more of this suffering-for-waves bullshit. Let’s just go back to Indo.

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