trapped in camas

My friends Nate and Bailey got married this past Saturday. Weddings are great, they bring a lot of people together to celebrate the prospect of true love. You get to watch two people stand in front of many humans (and, for some, God) and declare that goddammit, they are going to try to spend their lives together and make babies and fret about mortgage payments and maybe the guy one day when he’s 45 goes out and buys a scooter and the wife is like, “A scooter? Really?” and they have an argument about it but after he buys it anyway she finds out that she secretly kind of likes riding on it with him on cool summer nights. They get old, they die having spent the majority of their adult lives near each other. They are in love, or whatever love is when you’re that old. Some kind of antediluvian force beyond love at that point. This is arguably one of the greatest pinnacles of achievement for mankind: long-term monogamy. Even if you’re not into the concept, you have to agree that it’s a fucking ballsy choice to make, to decide to spend your life with one person, come hell or highwater. So for that, I like weddings.

However, being single, what I like more are wedding receptions because there is booze and dancing. The reception was held at Bailey’s father’s house in Camas, Washington. You’re probably asking yourself, “Where is Camas, Washington?” and I will tell you: I have no idea. I don’t think I ever will know. I’m not even sure it existed prior to someone telling me about it. It may very well be the Brigadoon of towns in Washington. For far too long, however, I was stranded there. But I get ahead of myself.

This reception included an open bar and food. I spent a lot of time at the open bar and far less time at the food, despite saying to myself earlier that morning, “You really should eat something before you start drinking.” I’m currently doing Intermittent Fasting, and my window to eat is 12pm to 8pm (roughly), and although I was fully aware that weddings = celebration = eat all the food, since I usually don’t eat in the morning I didn’t on Saturday. So long story short, I got pretty drunk. But it was fun, it was sunny out and there was music and dancing and we even did a little bit of improv which everyone enjoyed. I met a lot of Nate and Bailey’s friends and got to hang out with some of my own friends, which is always a plus in my book. We all forgot about our daily struggles for one day and focused on love and affection.

Now, to backtrack a little bit: the wedding was beautiful. It was lovely. I wish to speak no ill will towards the wedding or towards anyone at the wedding or reception. All I want to talk about is a bad omen, and that bad omen was me taking care of Nate and Bailey’s dog during the wedding. You see, Nate gave me a ride to the wedding, and when I got in the car it was him, his best man, and his dog. I didn’t even realize what I was getting myself into until we arrived, when I got out and Nate said, “Hey, could you grab Chevy’s leash?” and then I realized: I am taking care of the dog. Now, it is very important that you understand that I was okay with this, I didn’t mind taking care of his dog, Nate was getting married for chrissakes, he can’t stand at the altar with his dog at his side, but I was also fully aware (as was Nate) of how weird it was, me having a dog at a wedding, like I brought it to the wedding, like I couldn’t be social without a dog, like I was “that guy.” Nate joked, “Who brings a dog to a wedding?” which was funny because it was his dog, and the truth is that he brought her because some people were cleaning his apartment in preparation for some newlywed fucking that I’m sure immediately dirtied it all up again and then some.

So while I was fine about helping out, were I someone who tried to ply information from the remnants of tea leaves or various bones strewn along the carpet, I might have considered this a Bad Omen. For myself, strictly for myself, it was a notice that some things were happening that I couldn’t control. (Also, once we got to the reception, I didn’t have to take care of the dog anymore. Just so you know.)

I made a passing jest to my friend Ryan at the reception that this could totally be like Wedding Crashers, except we weren’t crashing, but still — there were plenty of beautiful people, men and women alike, and there was drinking, and one of the interesting and fun parts about a wedding reception is that everyone’s got this kind of love high because they saw a beautiful ceremony or, if they missed that, at the very least a blushing bride and groom at the reception afterward. Oh and there’s a shit ton of alcohol. That always helps. But my jest was merely that, because if I wrote a book called, Josh Belville’s Ten Life Rules, the first rule would be “Never Assume You’re Getting Laid.” Note that that’s not a life rule for people, it’s one of my life rules, because so far it hasn’t let me down. It’s a great rule because it sets expectations low enough that, if something were to happen, it would guaranteed be a pleasant surprise.

I won’t go into any sort of detail involving the young woman I met at this reception other than to say that she was kind of awesome, but I’ll get into that later because it involves me being a bit of a sad emo sap and I’d rather have that turn in the third act for maximum effect. The point is that I met a lady and she was cool, and the both of us were getting progressively drunker. The reception was winding down and she let me and some others know that her and some friends were going to a bar in downtown Camas(? I think it was downtown, this is where the haze starts) and invited us along. Or at least me. Again, the haze. One of the problems of being as tall as I am, and having such a huge head, like, my head is really big, it’s proportional I think but still, one of the problems is that when I drink a lot, I forget stuff, probably due to insufficient bloodflow because my head is so goddamn big. For the most part I forget trivial stuff, like walking from point A to point B, or talking about something that I don’t care about, or anything that my brain deems unworthy to be catalogued for future reference. Yes I understand that a lot of people black out when they drink, but I swear to god it happens earlier in the process for me. Maybe it’s because I don’t care about some things like other people do. Or maybe we were drinking since 2pm! There are a lot of possibilities here people.

The point is, the last thing I really remember, like a solid memory in my brain, was a friend of mine vomiting out of a moving truck we were in on the way to the bar. Neither of us were driving, thank god. It really was an awesome reception. It made me feel young, though, now that I look back on it, maybe a little too young.

We arrived at this bar which was called Birch St; I’m fairly convinced it was called that because that’s the name on my bank statement where I apparently spent $29. This girl was there. Again, no details but I enjoyed myself. I remember bits and pieces about the bar time. I remember showing her my wallet and her taking it and pulling out all of my cards and things and then putting them back in all wrong. I have this sensation of going to the bar even though for the life of me I don’t remember buying a drink, let alone $29 worth of drinks. Oh! I remember there were musicians, stuffed in the front corner, I think there was a bass player or maybe he played guitar and she sang. Part of my brain imagines that she was playing a washboard but I also think that I’m just imagining that because it would be funny. I have a vague recollection of walking to the bar. The whole place looks dark and black and silver for some reason. I remember my hands on her bare thighs (she was wearing a dress) and her telling me she liked that. I remember that the clearest. I remember her eyes and her sarcastic nature and how much I liked it. I remember the both of us being coy which was the best part. It was like a game but it was a game that we both knew how to win.

I guess we closed the bar down, I have no idea, but the next thing I know I’m in the largely empty streets of downtown Camas with this girl. I don’t know when or where my friends went. She and I had fun, and in the end I asked to go to her hotel room and she declined, mostly because her hotel room was full of people who had traveled here to see the wedding. Or maybe she was done with me. Maybe both! Who knows. I was cool with that.

At this point I will mention that my phone battery died hours ago due to Camas having terrible cell phone reception. She let me call a cab from her phone, which I did. Then she left to what I imagine was a sea of bodies passed out in a cramped hotel room. I sat at a small outdoor table whose top was emblazoned with bits of colorful ceramic set in a chaotic mosaic, and I waited. And waited. And waited.

The cab never came. I think I passed out for a little while and then woke up and realized the cab hadn’t come. It had to’ve been 50 degrees fahrenheit outside (50C would’ve been another story entirely), if not less, and I was wearing a dress shirt, an undershirt, and dress slacks. The alcohol had caused me to shiver uncontrollably, reminding me of long, drunken nights in college, talking with my friend Nick until five in the morning as he chain smoked and I wondered why he wasn’t cold but I was shivering so hard my teeth were actually chattering. I tried to turn my phone back on but it was dead dead. And then it finally hit that I was alone, with no phone, in the dark streets of Camas, Washington. The hotel the girl was staying at wasn’t a Holiday Inn with a lobby that I could enter and a concierge I request help from; rather, it looked to be a mom and pop sort of deal, with a lobby that was locked and all the hotel rooms upstairs. I suppose I could’ve flung rocks at random windows upstairs like some kind of drunken Romeo until someone opened one, but one the underlying principles of my life, perhaps my Rule #2 in those Life Rules, is “Try Not to Disturb People Whenever Possible,” and so instead, I started walking. I walked through the city searching for a 24/7 gas station before realizing that this city didn’t need one — everyone, and I mean everyone, was asleep. Tomorrow was Sunday. There was no need to wake up early, unless you went to church at the crack of dawn. It was quiet. No one, not even vagrants, were walking around. It was just me and the cold night.

While wandering I found two completely unlocked doors that I opened, testing my ethical morality regarding walking in and sleeping in a random building. One door was actually being held ajar by a rubber doorstop, and behind it was a lit hallway which seemed to lead to apartment buildings or offices upstairs. The other was just a door that I tried and opened, but I don’t remember where it led. This town seemed like the kind where people left their doors unlocked, or at least didn’t actively think about locking them. I appreciated that, but also didn’t want to make them change their minds when they found me passed out in the hallway, so I didn’t go in.

I spent a lot of my time cursing and lamenting my shitty luck. At one point I even started saying out loud, “Why the fuck does this kind of shit happen to me?” I repeated it again and again and again, with an edge of desperation in my voice. I felt like I was going to cry, but didn’t actually cry. It was a weird sensation. It was like my brain was trying to convince me that this is the point where you cry, where you feel exasperated, desperate, terrified, but I didn’t feel any of those things. I just felt alone and empty. And kind of pissed at myself for my shitty luck. Like some kind of bumbling fool, I had tried to get what I wanted and ruined it by sheer virtue of bad luck. It was frustrating but there was nothing I could do about it, and so this sadness that my brain tried to push on me was replaced with an uneasy contentedness as I tried to figure out what the hell to do.

After about a half an hour of walking, I decided I had seen the majority of downtown Camas, and, rather than start a long trek down various streets that seemed to head off into nowhere (nowhere inhabited, at least), I returned to the mosaic table, sat down, and passed out again.

The next time I woke up, it was close to 6am. The sun was rising, but it was also the coldest part of the night. I got up and started walking again, trying to keep myself warm, surprised that I hadn’t been accosted by a lone police officer, homeless person, or random passerby, not even someone who just needed a morning cigarette. I walked what I assumed was south until I reached what appeared to be a trainyard, out of my reach due to a tall fence. I saw a man standing on a docking bay platform. He looked like he was staring at me, or at least in my direction, partially silhouetted by lights shining behind him, inside the cargo loading room. I just stood there and looked at him, wracking my brain trying to think of a way to get to him. I didn’t think about shouting at him. He didn’t move for at least a minute. I ended up walking a little farther down until I reached a building attached to the fence. Tried the door. Didn’t open. And when I returned to my previous spot, the man was gone, the soft whinny of a train whistle in the distance.

As I continued walking I remembered the various times I got drunk in my life and decided to walk home instead of getting a cab, usually because I was broke. Miles walked, or stumbled, from one side of town to another, up hills, crossing train tracks, in the rain, in the snow. Always alone, it seemed like. I remember a particularly long walk when I lived in Boise, following a similar tryst with a girl I knew in college that failed before it even began. I crashed on her couch, woke up extremely early, and walked for what seemed like ages. Another night in Portland, more recent, where I walked all the way from downtown to my house. Five miles, maybe six, in the dead of night. Rule #2 of Josh’s Life Rules in practice.

I had passed by a Safeway in my travels and decided, now that the sun was rising, to see if it was open yet. Turns out it was. So I hesitantly walked in and warmed up and headed to the customer service desk, where there was a phone. A nice woman came up to me and probably wondered where the hell I came from, but she didn’t say anything other than asking me what I needed. She gave me a phone book and I dialed up Radio Cab, my go-to cab service. I then went outside and waited. Then I went inside and bought two donuts for a dollar because even though I’m not supposed to start eating until noon: fuck it, you know what I mean? I ate donuts and waited for the cab. At one point the woman from the customer service area came out and said, “Oh, good, you’re still here. The cab driver called and wanted to make sure that you still needed a cab, cause she’s coming all the way from Portland.” Which led me to believe that they probably called that girl’s phone with the same confirmation request, four hours ago. Ah well. C’est la vie.

This cab did come, thank god, and the woman driving said, “The credit card machine hasn’t been working, so we might have to go to an ATM.” To which I said, “I don’t care, just get me out of Camas.” She didn’t ask me about my night, other than asking about a “girl,” and I said “Yes” and nothing more. I’m sure cab drivers have heard the gamut of stories about man’s failed attempt at getting laid. The ride cost me $60 but I didn’t care, I was home and I could sleep in a bed, finally.

I said earlier about turning into an emo sap, and that’s just because the most frustrating part about the entire night wasn’t the fact that I was alone downtown in a city miles away from my home, with a dead phone and no way of contacting anyone. Okay, actually, that was pretty frustrating. But the most frustrating part was that I met a girl that I enjoyed hanging out with who lives far away and whom I will probably never see again. If she lived in Portland, I would’ve asked her out again. Instead, I didn’t even get her phone number because my phone was dead and oh yeah I was stupid drunk. So girl that I met, if you ever read this: You were cool and if you ever decide to visit Portland, you should let me know so we can hang out proper.

Anyway, that was my weird night. Time to buy a car, I guess.

By Josh

I'm the guy who owns this site, ya dummy.

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