"Any ideas on how you'll pay your rent?" It read.
I flipped it closed without responding and drove on.
If you had told me a year ago that I'd find myself driving to California to hula hoop with a bunch of strangers, I wouldn't have believed you. I might have thought it sounded cool, if a bit silly, but certainly not something I'd do.
And yet, here we are. Or, rather, there I was. Pushing my little Kia Rio to its limits, forcing it across more of the US than it had previously encountered, driving through deserts, mountains, and the California equivalent of customs*. This was an honest-to-god road trip. No money in my pocket should things go wrong (let alone cover my bills when I got back, a thing that my well-meaning friend insisted on reminding me of from time to time as I made my way across this great land).
When I finally parked my car after three days on the road and one precarious drive up a mountain, I no longer cared about what I'd given up to attend this event. I saw the line to sign in, populated by people I'd previously only seen via my computer screen, and my heart swelled. I'd finally gotten here. Hoop Camp.
I knew I wanted to go to Hoop Camp as soon as I learned of its existence. Unfortunately, Hoop Camp had taken place two weeks before I even discovered hooping. Which meant I'd spent the entire next year plotting how I would get there. Plotting and fantasizing. Watching every video of the event that I could find. Marveling at the fact that everyone in those videos had a hoop around their waist (or other random body part). No one was a freak. Everyone could happily nerd out over an LED hoop without fear of ridicule. Compare notes on the latest trick they'd learned (a typical topic of conversation). Oooh and aah over the hoop celebrities around every corner. (Oh yes. There are hoop celebrities.)
When I finally got there and settled in for the weekend, I didn't sleep much. I attended every single workshop. I stayed up jamming until the DJ had spun his last track, until the last glow hoop's light had dimmed. But then, on my way back to my bed, Rich Porter (RICH FUCKING PORTER) invited me to the late-late night jam happening right now at his cabin. Of course I said yes.
Rich Fucking Porter
Somehow I managed to wake up at 6 AM the next morning for yoga. Total, blissed-out exhaustion carried me through the day, allowing me to consume each and every workshop like a hungry hungry hippo (except if the little balls were hula hoops).
The bliss would have continued if I hadn't checked my texts at lunch.
I'd told myself I wouldn't look at my phone all weekend. That was the plan. This was my weekend. And yet...
Of course she'd texted. Another reprimand. Another reminder that, despite the excitement of this moment, responsibilities lurked when I got back home. Responsibilities that I had no way of actually responsibiling.
Suddenly, my bliss left the building. I closed my phone and plonked my ass down in the middle of everything, not sure what to think or feel.
A few minutes passed before I realized someone had sat down beside me. A guy, kinda gangly (but many hoopers are), appraising me carefully and chewing on something.
"What's the word?" He said.
I shrugged. "No word. I just don't know why I'm here."
He nodded. "Neither do I. Well, we may not be here. We may be there. Or somewhere else entirely. I don't think anyone is sure, really."
"I don't mean, like, 'Why am I here?' existential quandaries, I mean, I probably shouldn't be here. At Hoop Camp. Right here, right now."
He casually spat out the thing in his mouth. "Why?"
"Just...I shouldn't be here. I'm an adult, for god's sake. I work in an office from nine to five like a grown up is supposed to do. And yet I spent money I don't have so I could drive 1700 miles to hoop in the woods for three days? And when I get home...I don't even know if I'll have a roof over my head when I get home."
Another shrug from my mysterious new friend. "Does the particular roof matter? I mean, maybe there are other roofs that could make you happy. Look at me, I'm wearing two left-foot sandals. There's always another answer somewhere. Hey, there's no roof here, are you happy now?"
"What's that supposed to mean? Does it look like I'm happy?"
"Okay, so right now you're flipping out a little bit, but before whatever caused..." he waved his hand noncommittally over the area around me, "were you having a good time?"
I nodded, starting to get the gist of his words.
"So, okay. You're here now. No roof. No worries, I suppose. Who cares about later? That's not now. That's, like, later."
Now, I know this logic didn't solve anything. Not really. I would still have to face the consequences of my choices when I returned. But they could wait. For now, towering redwoods surrounded me as I learned and connected and hooped and enjoyed and relished. It didn't matter how I'd gotten here, or what would happen when I left. All that mattered was what I did now. And for now, I could choose to enjoy. To savor.
"You're right," I said, but when I turned my head post-epiphany, the mysterious man had gone as quickly as he'd arrived.
I smiled. Flicking open my phone, I punched out, "I'll worry when I'm in a more suitable environment for worrying." Then, I shut the thing off completely.
That's me with the blonde hair and the fire hoop.
*"Do you have any fruit or animals with you?"
"I have some Pop Tarts and a stuffed dog."
Intersection with impoetry, who helped with the dialogue for his character Billy Wylde's cameo. He's over here, chillin' like a villain.
This story is largely non-fiction, but some facts have been changed to protect the intersection.