A few weeks ago I went on an amazing solo adventure hike, one I intend to repeat many times, and one that many of my friends who saw pictures on Facebook, now, want to do with me.
I was moping about, at home, one lovely Sunday. My sweetie was at work, which is the norm for the weekend. No one else was available for an adventure, not many of my contemporaries are “up to” my type of adventure. So, I was solo. Which is just fine by me. I love companionship, and will gladly slow my pace and scale my adventure for the opportunity for company, but I am quite grateful for those days when I am left to my own devices.
I found a great hike on my “All Trail” iPhone app. As I’m a premium member, I logged in from my computer and printed the topo map of the hike, packed my daypack, and set out. I headed for Kenwood, California, a small community set between Sonoma and Santa Rosa. Just outside of Kenwood is a great California State Park, Sugarloaf. Adjacent to Sugarloaf is some additional park land managed by Sonoma County. The combination provide this one, great adventure; seven miles to the top of a “mountain”, the highest point dividing Napa and Sonoma counties. In that seven miles, you climb over 2,000 feet in elevation. It was challenging, but not hard. But, I do this quite a bit, so perhaps you shouldn’t totally trust me on that assessment.
It was a very good workout, going up and coming down. When I reached my car, a couple of hours ahead of my anticipated schedule, I decided to stop at Whole Foods in Sonoma to pick up the few items I’d need to sustain me nutritionally throughout the week. I knew for certain I didn’t want to go home, shower, then shop. I was pretty sure the shower would be followed with a meal, a beer, and a semi-vegetative state. I love weekends and hard-core, outdoor, tristes for that! Yes, an excuse. Yes, I’m always looking for one!
I made my way into Sonoma, which, on a summer Sunday, is a bit of a trick in itself. I secure a prime parking place in the lot, shady, on the end. I inherited my father’s uncanny knack for almost always finding excellent parking spots. I don’t know if it’s a gift, or a superpower, or some weird multi-generational bargain executed with the Universe, or the devil. But it’s pretty cool.
Once inside the overly air-conditioned environ that is Whole Foods, I take quick advantage of their clean lavatory, complete with the same organic, lavender hand soap I use at home. Then, little hand basket in hand, I set to the task of gathering the desired booty. Beer, large format, of course. Pizza, personal size, of course. Ice cream, coconut based, of course. I also secure some cheese and berries and yogurt and some greens to get me through the week until my next “big shopping trip”, which, I’m not sure has happened, yet. I’ve been pretty good, lately, with just doing the little hand basket, fill in the missing items, kind of shopping trip. I think I’ve only wheeled a cart around the store once in the past month, and the smaller version of the cart, at that.
When I hoist my, admittedly, well-laden hand basket onto the conveyor and dutifully unload it, depositing the empty basket in the spot under the conveyor that is just, exactly, hand basket sized, and drop my cloth, reusable, grocery sack on top of my pile, the cashier looks up at me, at my items, then at me again. I’ll admit, I’m kind of sweaty, I’m sure I either look extremely tan, which, I am, in places, or very, very, very dirty. Which I am. In all places. My hair is in its “I’m doing something sweaty and athletic after getting out of bed and I see no reason to shower or do my hair” bun. Some people on Pinterest would refer to this as a “messy bun” and consider it an “up do”, they strive for it and contrive it. Not for me, it is my default hairdo if I don’t plan on seeing anyone I know, or if the humidity is high, it is raining, or I have suddenly come down with a case of what I call “crazy sex hair”, (wink, wink) and it’s time to go out to dinner with my guy. I, in fact, have with me, at any point in time, an entire arsenal of hair ties. I keep a large stash of them everywhere, car, gym bag, running bag, purse, make up bag, suitcases, overnight bags, tote bags, and, just to be safe, I often sport one around my wrist like a bracelet. But only the really pretty ones. And, today, I’ve employed one to hold the hair atop my head that, more often than not, has a mind all its own.
So, the cashier, a gal, was totally checking me out, she’s like really scrutinizing me. I was beginning to feel very self-conscious. She wasn’t even finished scanning the items for the woman ahead of me. I’m wondering if, in my excitement to buy beer, pizza, and ice cream if I forgot to completely redress myself. I checked. All clothing items were accounted for and were covering the assigned body part. When the woman ahead of me gathers her bags and leaves, the cashier looks at me again. Then at the items I’ve placed on the belt, then me. I’m sure my eyebrows are raised and I have that “what the hell” look on my face I can’t seem to contain. I am not a poker player, for good reason, my face always says exactly what’s on my mind. Finally, she speaks, “Are you old enough?” she implores. I know I don’t look my age, but, seriously, of all days, today? There is no way I look under whatever age they have posted for “carding” for alcohol. No way. If I were all duded up the way I am when I normally shop, or go out, or think I might bump into people I know, perhaps, but those days are getting fewer and farther between. I’m over a half a century old, chronologically speaking, anyway. I must have looked confused, because she clarified, “you’re not old enough to get the senior discount, are you?” I laughed a little, but, really, it was a clever disguise I managed as the wind was knocked from me. She quickly added, “you really don’t look old enough …” to which I added ,”buy beer?”.
I guess the day has come where I look almost my age. I’m still a few years away from what I think the senior discount is. I don’t know. I haven’t researched it. I’m old enough for an AARP card, but I’ve refused. I don’t want to be treated like an old person until I feel like an old person. So, never, I hope. Still, I was flabbergasted. I’ve enjoyed a very long run of not looking my age. Perhaps it was just the dirt and the sweat.
I paid full price for the contents of my basket, I quickly grabbed my overstuffed, reusable cloth bag and headed for the car. When I got home, I took a shower, piled on the moisturizer, and enjoyed my pizza, my beer, and my ice cream. Sort of. This transaction has been haunting me a bit. Quite a bit. I’m not vain, really. Okay, maybe just a little, but no more than any other middle-aged American woman who has spent her entire life in the shadow of the media images of beauty. It has taken me a very long time, lots of scrutiny, and a hell of a lot of selfies to really get comfortable with my quirky good looks as, well, looking good. I think I’m cute. I think I’m one of those “exotic” or “unconventional” beauties. Our beauty is from within, anyway, I just like to think that all of that inner beauty I possess is in a somewhat pretty wrapper.
Today, I ran a pretty grueling, very hilly, half marathon. I ran a pretty grueling, very hilly, half marathon after a week of partying way too hard, yesterday, the day before the race, included. This morning when my alarm went off at 4:30 AM, I somehow managed to slide out of bed and into my running gear. I somehow managed to rein my hair into a hair tie. I plied a healthy layer of sunscreen and enough makeup to make it appear as though I had a pulse, and no hangover. I somehow managed to run the challenging, hill 13.1 miles, falling short of my personal record by only a minute and fifty-eight seconds. All my other half marathons have been on nearly, perfectly, flat courses. I was kind of proud of little old me. I also learned a lot about what I need to do, training wise, and partying wise, to prepare for some even more challenging races I’ve got paid for and on my calendar. So, I guess we’ll just say all the partying this week, before a race, was “research”, just trying to define limits and enhance my training plan. That’s all.
After my race, I grabbed a half-caf, soy, latte before heading home. Once home, before I even changed out of my very sweaty running clothes, I headed to the Whole Foods Market in Napa. I just needed the essentials to get me through the week, before my next “cart-sized” trip. I piled into my handbasket some berries, some greens, a large format beer, a personal sized organic pizza, and some unsweetened, coconut based ice “cream”. I headed for the checkout stand and dutifully emptied the contents of the basket, along with my cloth reusable grocery bag, onto the conveyor. The cashier looked at me, she looked at the beer on the conveyer, and she said, “May I see your I.D., please?” As she glanced at my birthdate on my driver’s license her eyes grew larger for a moment, I’m sure she thought it was imperceptible, but I saw them. Yes, I’m old enough, thank you.