It was a classic northwest summer evening, a cloudless sky just starting to get cool, volcanoes sturdy and proud on the horizon.
We'd all had a few swings and were about to head back to our picnic when the boy appeared with his two companions. All three were handsome in that elusive Seattle way: adventurous but soft spoken, and even though they went on the super scary, far too dangerous, since-removed-by-the-city second rope swing, they did not appear to be showing off.
The boy soon to be nicknamed rope swing boy was the shortest of the three, with the brightest blue eyes I'd ever seen. He was nervous and had to do some deep breathing exercises in the top of the tree before he swung, which I found delightful.
We got to talking. We were smiling and endearingly hesitant. I kept quite diminutive. I was hoping he'd introduce himself before I introduced myself, so that I could have the upper hand. But he never did, and eventually I had to leave.
In anybody else's universe, that would have been the end of the story.
I returned to the lake a few weeks later, after sunset on a Tuesday. Amber and Amy and I walked the narrow path to the swing, herding our three dogs, and suddenly there he was again.
He was sitting on a little beach with some friends. I played it cooler than cool. Amber later told me she was totally impressed. At first I didn't recognize him, and then I did (those eyes), and then he said 'didn't I....' and I said 'didn't we....' and at long last I learned his name. We shared a lingering handshake.
He showed up at the swing a few minutes later. There were only a handful of us, drinking Fremont Summer Ale out of cans, trying to pull back flips off the rope. Again we got to talking, and this time we covered some real ground. He was asking a lot of questions; we were ignoring everyone else.
In my head I found it funny that I should meet this boy now, two weeks before my scheduled departure date from Washington. Instead of moving to the dirty south, I'd be staying here, the decidedly clean pacific coast, and we'd probably share a few mountain-esque excursions, then a CSA box, and then a little apartment in Greenwood, and eventually we'd move to Bellingham and raise a brood of healthy and bookish Northwest children. Oh, the adventure we call life!
But I didn't say anything like that out loud. I didn't ask for his number or suggest we 'hit up' the rope on the Skykomish and get milkshakes afterwards, which is what I want to be doing one hundred percent of the time. I let him take the lead, which meant squashing all of my instincts, but things were moving forward very nicely.
Then, at a natural break in the conversation, he scurried up the tree and took a turn swinging into the lake. I sidled up to my friends for a little mid-game analysis.
'Looks like it's going well!' Said Amber.
'Super!' I replied.
Amy said, Wait. Where is he going?'
We all looked out over the water. Instead of climbing back up the rocks, handing the rope to the his friend and reappearing at my side, he was swimming like mad away from shore. He was fleeing the scene. He left behind his towel and his beer.
'My god,' I exclaimed. 'He took to the sea!'
Amber said, 'What did you say to him?'
I had no idea. Here I thought things were going so well.
'I'm sure there's a reason for this,' said Amy, patting me on the back.
'He's probably just swimming back to the little beach where he was sitting before.' Amber tried to sound reassuring. 'We'll see him as we walk home and you guys will talk more.'
But when we did call it a night he was still out there, barely visible, a bobbing head paddling towards Kirkland. Swimming across the lake is illegal on account of all the boat traffic. He could be arrested or drown or maimed by a propeller- all risks he'd rather take then spend any more time talking to me.
I like to think of this story as a collective good bye gift from all the baffling male creatures of the GPNW.
And now for a feature I'd like to call 'All in Your Week.'
I asked you on Instagram to label your favorite summer adventure photos with the hashtag #wildercoast. Here are some of my favorites from the last few weeks. I'm excited to feature your shots on the blog a few times a month, so keep getting after it, and keep tagging your photos. Thanks to Kelle for the inspiration!