The nearest place to take refuge and regroup
Out for a run, her brown hair pulled back into a short ponytail, wearing a t-shirt and lycra shorts, sweaty, still breathing hard, Mary knocks on my apartment door. I've just moved out of the UC Davis dormitories and into an apartment with a roommate, Andy, he's not home, so I open the door knowing that the knock's not for me.
“Hi, is Andy home?”
“No, you want to leave a note?”
Mary steps in and says she's hoping to buy some weed from him. She writes down her phone number and I give her a joint. Later I run into her again, she lives with an ex-con named Nick in an apartment across from my friend Scott, and I begin to stop in to see her, too, when I visit Scott. Within a few months I have my own apartment, though no real furniture, and some nights Mary sleeps with me on the floor and shares my sleeping bag.
Mary graduates, and I drop out and we plan a long-distance hike together in the El Dorado National Forest. We prepare packages of dried foods to be mailed to us, and we leave them with our friend Tom, who drops us off at the trailhead. In only a couple weeks, fall turns to winter, and our three-season tent isn't enough. We hitchhike to the nearest place where we can take refuge and regroup. That's Kirkwood Ski Resort, there's an expensive little convenience store there. We waterproof our tent in the employee laundry room, then I find the cover of a pickup truck bed in the basement parking garage for us to sleep under while we're waiting for the waterproofing to dry. We camp out in the snow, heating rocks in the fire, wrapping them in a t-shirt, and taking them into our sleeping bags with us. Our food packages never arrive. We hear that the trail ahead is impassable, expert hikers are turning back.