My last weekend in England was spent with Marcus, introduced earlier as Mr. Hotness. He drove down to pick me up at the house, carrying my bags to the car while the twins and their sister hugged me and stared out the door at the large, strange man disappearing into the darkness with my belongings.
We had a relaxed Friday night and Saturday, working on a website, eating tapas, and meeting friends for a goodbye drink.
Sunday he took me to the Quantocks. Winding paths led through forested areas, heath-covered moors, up rocky slopes and down dirt roads. The fog obscured our view of the forests below, but I could see enough to understand why Marcus had loved this area, for bicycling especially, when he lived nearby as a teenager. I could also easily imagine how he was accidentally abandoned there by a cycling group and wandered, lost, for hours before finding his way to a major road.
Dressed in track pants, sneakers and a lightweight jacket, I walked quickly to stave off the cold and avoid absorbing all the air’s moisture like a walking cotton ball.
As we descended from the moors into the Great Wood (Editor’s note: Marcus will correct me on what the forest was called), I was transported to the Northwest: tall evergreens, the smell of thickly piled pine needles, gnome-sized moss castles rolling across the forest floor. We followed the path down further beneath the hills, jackknifed up, by this time guessing we’d been walking for at least an hour and a half. At the fork in the road, Marcus felt reasonably sure we should take a left.
This path returned us to the moors, and we started to climb, reaching a peak where he believed we’d see the cartographic marker we’d found at the beginning of the walk. Fog held thick and gray ten feet around us. Despite his experience with the area, versus my newcomer status, I doubted his conviction that we should take a right. Climbing to the left, the fog shrouded our view, making us wonder if we’d find any sign of our old path.
There it was. We knew which way to go, at least for a while. Muddy trails, sinking my sneakers into brown water up to my ankle and drenching my socks. I wondered if and when we’d ever reach the car, as my stomach started to tug with hunger. Not wearing watches, we estimated it was probably three-thirty or four, meaning darkness was an hour away.
Our plan for the next day was to wake at five, leave the house at six, so that he could drop me off at a park and ride. A three and a half hour bus trip to Heathrow would deposit me with plenty of time for my flight back to Newark. After my mom’s experiences and the phone calls from the immigrations official at Gatwick, I wasn’t sure if someone wouldn’t ask me questions when I left the country. I also didn’t know when I’d see Marcus again, despite his assurances he’d visit me soon in the US.
As we walked up pebble-covered paths and through tall trees, I thought, I wish we knew exactly the way home. We both wish we do. It’s human nature to think, “Now, tell me now, answer my questions now.” But wishing and demanding and even asking won’t counteract the fog, won’t bring us a trail map, won’t push the clock back a few hours.
All we can do, is walk.
I’m hoping he continues to walk with me. It was so much fun.