“Ashley,” I replied to the gentleman beside me, asking my name.

I think he thought I was lying.

We had both come to the same park and were having a chat through the windows of our cars. Although he’d invited me out to go feed some birds two feet away at the water, I was about to go on a run. So I told him I might swing by when I was done – and that was when he finally asked me what it is people call me when they wanna get my attention. And, sure, I could’a volunteered it earlier – when he’d told me where he worked (“Ashley Furniture”), but for some reason I hadn’t. I thought it was strange that was the first thing he volunteered, too – like what you do for money is the first thing I want to know right after your name. Not unless it’s your lifetime passion. But I went with it. And now that I did share the label my mother and father’d given me, he kinda scoffed a little.

“That’s… the place I work…”

He probably thought I’d made it up – a fake and unimaginative name to avoid building any kind of a connection.

Ultimately, we said goodbye and kindly parted ways. To be fair, I would’ve stopped by and had a longer chat with him later, had he waited as long as he’d said he was going to. Because I do try to say “yes!” to life lately, but there’s more than one aspect to it when rando men are involved. The first is that I’ve made the mistake of trashing the things that make me happy for some handsome stranger showing me any attention. It leads to opposite-of-happiness every time. So I’m trying to un-habit that. Also, it’s tough for a chick because: safety. As mentioned in the tree-climbing expedition, there’s a happy medium between voluntarily Christopher Reeves-ing yourself and totally missing an opportunity for self-affirmation, new connections, lessons, whatever. So, I tried my hardest to just enjoy my foreign forest run (day six of #30daysofnewthings) without letting the thought “What if he was a lonely dying millionaire looking for a nice stranger to donate his fortune to?” encumber the experience. So, I thusly ran part of what I now call the “haunted trail” for the first time. It’s this stretch of woods by the river that’s so entrenched in history that the energy of the dead’s almost palpable.

(I stop and walk by this dude’s eternal earthy bedchamber so his ghost doesn’t come throw me off the cliff part of the trail. It’s always misty like this – like that place outta “The Others”.) But as I’d done the “try a new trail” thing a couple days before, I went for another meta-pose (compliments of a friend commenting online about seeing if I could do a bound-eagle in a tree)

“This won’t be that cool,” I thought, propping up my camera to record my tree pose on a felled tree.

“It’s not even in a tree – just ON a tree.”

But it was fine. I’d had a good run, and my dog was waiting just five minutes away to go play on the shores of the Potomac. I think if anything was making me pessimistic, it was my self-doubt about not hanging out with that dude before going running. Was the Ashley coincidence a sign I should’ve taken? What if my gut was wrong – and that was a missed chance for awesomery? What if we’d seen a comet in broad daylight passing over a double rainbow? I thought all’a this as I pulled myself up, did a distant pose, held it for a bit, and then dismounted to check that my camera had gotten me in frame. What if nothing else cool happens today? And that was meant to be it?

And as I played it back, I laughed to myself.

Not only had I posed on a tree, but in the tree several feet ahead of it, too.

Perspective is everything.

I couldn’t’ve planned that if I’d tried.

If synchronicities are a sign, then this was mine. I thought I’d failed because I didn’t know how to read that earlier one with my name. But like I’ve written before, psychology says our names are important to us because they grab our attention. Once my attention was raised, I realized this dude looked a little stoned and remembered he’d driven through that parking lot twice before parking. Maybe he was fine, but maybe he also did a few meta hobbies too – like hanging hookers from meathooks in his home dungeon. Either way, I’d gotten a vibe I couldn’t jibe with and made a choice. And, now, like some ethereal sign that that choice wasn’t wrong and that what I was doing was cool enough, the cosmos optically planted my tree pose in a tree for me.

Or…maybe that’s just my perspective.

Either way, I’m loving all the little side effects of this journey.

P.S. I finally got both feet on that damned wall.

Next new thing – no walls!