Today is May 6th 2005. I wake up on a huge comfortable sectional couch at my Aunt’s house in Lakebay, WA. My mom is asleep on the couch and I am so excited to meet my new family. Nobody is awake so I slip away for a cigarette. It is so quiet here in the thick of the woods. The birds chirp and a fresh breeze riddled with the distinct tang of the Puget Sound kisses my face. The magic of this place fills my senses as my eyes take in the vigorous battle between nature and the reluctant concrete losing its war. I look at the pile of Vans shoes at the front door and smile nervously wondering if my newfound family will like me. My mom called this the Vans family and told me a lot about my fellow cousins Josh, Nick, Jacob, and the twins Joe and Sarah. Their kindly mannered dog Drey comes up to me with a tennis ball in his mouth and wags his tail vigorously as he anxiously awaits my decision to throw the ball for him. I throw it a bunch of times; there is never enough fetching for this wonderful bud.
My cigarette burns up quickly and I walk back in the house to find my Aunt Janeen up and making coffee. She is a kind looking woman who looks perfectly at home in her country house. I can tell just by looking at her that she has a strong connection to the wild woods surrounding her home. I say hello and introduce myself; she seems elated to meet me. We hit it off right away talking about all things good; gardening, hiking and the ocean are just a few of our favorites. Eventually my mom rolls around and grudgingly wakes up. I shove a fresh cup of coffee in her face much too excitedly and she looks up confused as if a stack of books just fell on her. I decide to give her some room and I head off to shower and spend some much needed time grooming.
After I hop out of the shower my cousins are up and the boys are rambunctiously going about their morning being the hyperactive kids that we Rorie’s are. It is truly awesome to watch these kids wrestle and go about their camaraderie and I am surprised at how openly they involve me in it. I am truly taken aback by this as I am so different than this, but I know I fit into it somehow, and for the first time in my life I realize a natural and easy connection with these people I never knew I had. It is almost as if I had known them my whole life without ever remembering it and I feel like the guy in the movie that has lost his memory and is trying to remember his family.
My cousins eventually ask me if I want to hike down to the beach nearby. Excitedly I agree and we head out. As we dip and dodge the explosion of nature, my cousins proudly boast about how they made this so called trail into the forest. Cheerfully I follow although inundated by vines, ferns, and tree limbs. Eventually the trail meets up with a larger pathway that seems better traveled and I revel in the absolute pristine beauty of this place. About a half a mile later we meet up with Van Beek Rd and journey down its wide and smooth blacktop surface. Eventually we arrive at a long closed state park.
We walk through the woods and I am tickled to see signs talking about the old growth trees that used to grow here. The mounds where there used to be tree trunks are so enormous they look like small hills and are taken over by the lush vegetation that thrives in this ever-moist climate. I am amazed that someone could cut down such enormous trees just for the wood and I can only imagine how massive they were when still standing. Eventually we come to a steep set of wooden steps that lead to a small cement stairwell overcome by the growth of invasive Himalayan blackberry vines. The water is just down the stairs and we carefully avoid the thorns coming out onto a quiet pebble beach on the glassy Puget Sound. This place is perfect for contemplation because of its remote and less traveled location and I am awestruck by its beauty. I feel so at home with my cousins as I watch them skip stones in the still glassy sound.
Eventually we head back to the house and enjoy some incredible times horsing around as if we had been doing this our whole lives. My mom finally gets out of the bathroom and she smells amazing. I feel as though my heart is going to burst because I am so proud to know her. We enjoy an amazing day filled with laughs, worriless fun, and new beginnings. Life is good.