Let me set the scene for you.
Many years ago, I was living in East Tennessee, and a lover of mine — who I remain friends with, who’s an extraordinary woman — she was like:
“Hey, let’s go hiking up in the woods.”
She did that kind of thing, hiking.
Normally, I didn’t really want to go hiking, because I’ve never been an outdoors person. I’m an urban person.
But, you know, she was just the most beautiful and charming person and authentic. If she told a lie, her head would have fallen off of her body. She was the most honest and loving and nurturing person. She was incredible.
So I was like:
“Yeah. Yeah. OK. let’s go hiking!”
All right, so we go up into these mountains of East Tennessee. And man. It was glorious. It was just glorious. It was like …
There was an incline to the woods. So you’re just kind of like slowly going up into East Tennessee.
The foliage is incredible.
There’s just a canopy of trees.
And there’s this beautiful path, a dirt path, and it’s dry, but there are leaves, and just walking through nature was like what “Walden” and Thoreau in literature are talking about … you just felt so at one with nature, and not just that, but like, you know, a Return To Your Roots as a human being. Like, we come from the dirt, and we return to the dirt, and here we are …
And I was walking up this beautiful path in East Tennessee with the most amazing lover you could possibly imagine. Just an incredible human being.
And then we get to the top of where we were going, and it wasn’t some big mountaintop or something. It was just a nice place, and then she was like:
“Maybe we should turn around.”
And I was like:
So we turned around and then we started going down the mountain.
It was daylight but just so much light could come through the canopy of trees, and it was so glorious.
And then it began to rain, but because there was so much canopy, the rain came down in this sort of like sprinkle, you know, like magic, like you were in a magic movie.
So then I started jogging down the pathway, leaving my lover behind me, but she didn’t mind because she could see my childlike joy of being in the mountains of East Tennessee with her.
Anyway, that was a glorious moment in time, and then we got back to her place and, you know, had the most amazing rest of the day and night and next day and next night.
That’s the kind of moment that gets stuck in amber in your mind.
On top of that. I had just gotten divorced, or divorced for just a smidge, and it was one of the hardest times in my life.
And so this particular lover in East Tennessee was there for me in a way that you would want, in a way that you would want in a time of pain.
But I had no pain when I was with her in East Tennessee. The only reason that that relationship didn’t work out is because we were living in different states. Otherwise, I probably would have married her that week and stayed with her for the rest of my life.
I mean, who knows.
After that moment in East Tennessee, then years passed on, and I had some other lover. And then I was engaged to *this* person, and *that* person. And I had some other relationships that I could never keep together, because all my relationships start out so full of hope, and then one thing leads to another and they just don’t work out. I’m not saying that that’s going to be the case always. It’s just …
I can’t seem to keep a relationship together forever, and that’s sad to me, because I have friends who are with the person that they’ve been with since high school or college, or, you know, since they were 30 or something and they’ve been together for 20 years.
I have this one couple of friends in California. I told them once, I was like:
“Man, you guys are screwed, because you can never split up. If you guys split up, you’ll never ever be happy.”
After I told them that (but not because I told them that), they got engaged and married, and they had a kid, and I’m not trying to take any credit for that. I’m just saying that I could see in them that they needed to be together forever, no matter what.
I have friends like that. They just have to be together forever no matter what.
I can’t tell you how envious I am of that. I am the most envious person in the entire world when I see a couple who are together forever, and maybe it’s not perfect, and maybe there’s not enough of *this* in their relationship anymore, and maybe there’s not enough of *that* in the relationship anymore, and maybe they’ve struggled with this and that, but whatever, that love is forever for them. And that’s extraordinary.
I once knew this guy I worked with in Daytona Beach, and this was back when I was a smoker (I haven’t smoked in decades), so I was outside smoking a cigarette with this guy and I go:
“So, how long have you been married?”
And this guy — a really great guy, I loved him, he was so good — and he goes:
“We’ve been together for like 24 years.”
Or maybe it was 30 years or something. A long time.
And I go:
“Wow, that’s amazing. My marriage only lasted nine years, and that seemed like a real victory, and I wanted to be with that wife for the rest of my life. And it destroyed me that it didn’t work out. Destroyed me.”
So this guy, he goes:
“Yeah, the key to marriage is you just have to, like, hang in there during the bad years.”
He didn’t say bad weeks or bad months or bad days.
He said you have to hang in there during the bad YEARS.
“How many bad years have you had in your marriage?”
And he goes:
“Oh you know … like …four years.”
And I was like:
“Oh my God! You’ve had four bad years out of 20 years or whatever? That’s a sizable percentage of your years that are gone! That sucked!”
And he was like:
“Yeah, but you know, we got through it, and we love each other, and now we’re happy every day.”
How do you do that?
How do you hang in there that long?
I don’t know.
I have no idea how you hang in there that long.
How do you do it?
I can’t figure it out.
I don’t know how to get through the hard times like that, you know?
I just think like:
“Oh my God, if I stay in this relationship another day, it’s going to kill me. I’m dying of this relationship.”
I don’t know … I guess … I mean …
Everybody’s built differently. So there are people that can just hang in there, and there are people who just can’t hang in there.
There are people who can just put up with things, and other people can’t put up with things.
Plus, we all have our own psychological problems. I’ve been in therapy for years, because I have abandonment issues, because my mom and my dad abandoned me, and I was raised mostly by my grandmother and my brother and my sister — which was not fair to my brother and sister and grandmom, of course, and most of all, it was not fair to me.
And now I’ve got these abandonment issues.
But everybody’s got issues.
So, you know, I don’t know how people make relationships work for 20 years.
I’ve made relationships work for nine years and six years and two-and-a-half years, and another two-and-a-half years, and yet another two-and-a-half years, and a year, and eight months, and six months. And on and on.
I’ve had a lot of long monogamous relationships where, you know, we didn’t cheat. I mean, I always assume that they’re not cheating. I never cheat, I never have affairs, and I never have emotional affairs. I never do any of that.
When I’m in a relationship, I’m just trying and trying and trying to make that relationship work, just trying to make it work.
But other people, they’re not trying anything, they’re just doing it.
Some people get in relationships and they’re just like:
“I don’t have to try. I just do.”
It’s like Mr. Miyagi in “The Karate Kid,” or Yoda in “Star Wars,” where they’re just like:
“Do not try. Do.”
Or whatever that whole thing is.
There are people that just can make their marriages work, and they can make their relationships work.
I have friends who are in open relationships that have been together for decades, and swingers that have been in relationships for decades. And the stats show that swingers and people in open relationships have the exact same divorce rates as people who are in traditional marriages.
So no matter what, I’m just so envious of all of you who make a relationship last forever.
Anyway, I started this whole story because I wanted to talk about hiking.
Last year, in 2022, I just kept going hiking and hiking and hiking and hiking and hiking and hiking and hiking and hiking, hiking, hiking.
And it was exhausting.
And I just eventually couldn’t go hiking one more day, not another day of hiking.
And then people are like:
“Oh, but you looked so happy.”
You know … I mean … to some degree, of course I was happy. I was in a relationship, and I was doing something for someone, and when you’re trying to do something for someone, and you’re trying to nurture a person in a relationship, it makes you feel good. It makes you feel good to try, it makes you feel good to be there and not be closed-minded, because you never know, when one day, you’ll love it.
Like, maybe you’ve always hated eating tomatoes your whole life, but suddenly you try one one day, and then, oh my God, you love tomatoes suddenly!
That happened to me with green olives last year. I’ve always hated green olives, always. And then I tried some new green olives two months ago, and I loved it. And then I went to the store and I bought jars and jars of green olives, and then for like four straight weeks, I was just eating nothing but green olives.
So you never know when your tastes are going to change.
And that’s why I went hiking.
I went hiking for the same reason that I tried olives every few years, and the same reason I tried tomatoes every few years, because you can’t just never try.
And on top of that, I was just trying to be good in a relationship. I was always very honest about not loving hiking. I thought I was publicly saying that I didn’t generally love hiking but that I was having a good time, or “Here are some happy pictures.”
And then, once I was like “nope, I still hate hiking,” then I just basically stopped going, and I stopped posting anything about it.
And then, for a variety of separate reasons, the relationship ended, and it wasn’t because of hiking, there were a lot of things, but it was not about hiking.
So that’s my hiking story, is:
I went hiking a lot and I was just trying to be a good partner. I was trying to nurture the relationship. I was trying to nurture life. I was trying to enjoy life.
And I don’t love hiking, but I’ll always have moments like in Tennessee, and I had one or two moments last year.
And those were nice moments, and all the rest … I didn’t like.
And that’s that.
And that’s my hiking story.
I love you very much. And I hope you’re having just the greatest day.
Why I went hiking and why I stopped hiking?
Let me set the scene for you.