I had spoke with my friend Malissa more in recent months having both of us be in similar situations in life. We both have toddler baby boys. We both like sitting on porches and talking way too late into the night. And we’re both somewhat self destructive and hilarious. One of many differences for us was that Malissa had moved back home to Little Rock a few years back just before having her child. As we caught up via text and group text, I had made a decision to visit her for my birthday. Little Rock is one of the last major cities in reasonable driving distance that I had yet to experience. Plus I always have fun with Malissa so it seemed like a no brainer.
I had packed up a duffel bag mostly with hair care products and a couple outfit choices for a night out and hit the open road that Friday August morning around 9am. I had stayed up the night prior reading alt right blogs and even sat outside a Starbucks on the way East and wrote a little facebook post about my thoughts on recent events. The drive itself was quite uneventful. Dustin (my boyfriend) kept calling to check in and see where I was and I kept hurriedly getting off the phone. I’m not much of a phone talker or texter whenever I am busy. I like to listen to music and sign and drink too much coffee. I stopped in Texarkana to find some allergy medicine because despite my overdose of energy drinks, I felt ran down already. It had been two hours.
Malissa didn’t get out of work until around 5pm, so as I got closer in proximity to her location I forked off towards Pinnacle Mountain right there in Little Rock. I just put the name in the GPS and headed off that way. My only meal that day was a bag of Doritos from the road and a little bit of toast before leaving that morning. I had bought a bottle of water before entering the state park but thought I’d be fine. I did find myself surprised at the amount of humidity in the air. Okay, I was more than surprised. I assumed anything north of Dallas would have to be a lot cooler. So I walked over to the Visitor Center and grabbed a map. I just kept staring at the map feeling relatively confused as to where I was and where I wanted to be. Finally I realized I was on the wrong side of the park to begin my ascent to the top of the mountain. Once I had figured out what was wrong, I made a gameplan on how I was going to forge my way to the right trail. Put my keys in my pants and made one last look at the map before heading off along my way.
Huge stones and boulders built my path downwards as I had to keep my eyes on the blue paint led by some primitive keepers of the park. At a point where the trail evened out I started jogging through to forest trying to make good time. At that point I came to a paved road to cross and was on the trail for the mountain. This part of the trail was actually fairly populated. I was taking big strides carefully balancing myself on stone after stone climbing upwards. It reminded me of a Jack Keroac novel ‘On the Road’ where he mentioned his friend floating up the mountain with ease. That was me.
Until I stopped. I kept thinking I was closer and closer. And wouldn’t stop because I just wanted to finish and get to the final climb. Then I arrived. And the final climb was much steeper than I had imagined. It was about at an 80* incline. As I slowed down and came to a halt and allowed some women to go around me, I felt a wash of cold chills flow over me. It made me alarmed as that isn’t a good sign. I drank the rest of the bottle and sat down.
I decided with the time and having no more water and signs of heat exhaustion, I should turn back. I cursed to myself under my breathe and noted how much more difficult it is climbing down the mountain than up.
Climbing up my next steps were at eye level. Easy to keep an eye on all that was going on around me and my markers. After five minutes of climbing down and tripping around, I had lost track of my markers. Quickly I went from okay but worried to completely lost and alone.After about ten more minutes of walking I found an open field that I had crossed at some point during my journey there. At SOME point. Then I couldn’t remember when. Had I just crossed here or did i cross here on the first trail? Did I get this turned around? I started to pull out my phone but then I thought a map couldn’t really help me being on foot. I could still go in the wrong direction. Then I remembered I had turned on my Strava App. Which if you don’t use, its actually an app for tracking your running or cycling or swimming workouts. BUT what it did do for me was track my GPS and where I started and….Oh God. Was I happy?
I was way off my original trail and began headed back that way but cross ways trying to cut down on my overall mileage as I as beginning to feel sick. And out of breath from walking. Just walking at this point.
As I made my way back to the blue trail… it dawned on me that this was completely up hill. Up boulders. What was a fun climb and descent originally was becoming scary to the state that I was in. The last 30 feet I was sitting down every ten seconds to not get too dizzy. I could see the entrance of where I started and considered this a very annoying way to die. How embarrassing.
Crawling out of the woods and back into the parking lot in which I had parked, I grabbed my wallet and headed into the visitors center. The rangers and workers seemed alarmed by my state and asked what I needed to which I asked where they kept their popsicles and ice cream. I also grabbed a water then sat in my car. The strawberry popsicle gave a comforting effect but I just wanted to cry. I’m a pretty calm person and I try to stay alert and positive but once I was safe I just was hit with anxiety of...Why do you do this shit? You could have died? Why didn’t you eat more? WHY WHY WHY?-
A text message alert popped up on my phone. It was Malissa asking where I was at. I nonchalantly said just coming close to death and what’s your address?
I headed down the windy roads of Little Rock headed to the bakery at which Malissa is employed. I still felt shaken up by the time I pulled up. I was glad it was still another hour before she got off work and I could have time to emotionally release whatever these feelings were that made me want to wear a black hooded robe all night. She handed off her key and address and I made my way to her empty house with no awkward small talk. As I got ready I noticed all her clean makeup brushes and all the nice makeup she had. I had brought my own but I didn’t bring any brushes and was just going to use my fingers but thought….WHY NOT! Malissa had worked for YSL at a makeup counter and had all the best things. I didn’t even bring hairspray with me. After I finished getting ready I drew myself a glass of water and sat on her porch and smoked a cigarette. Just then I saw a car pull up and Malissa and her mother both got her son out of the car and started walking up. I realized my cigarette might not be the best introduction for the boy so i stomped it out and walked their way.
Malissa quickly got ready and we headed down the street to visit her boyfriend at his art gallery showing. Still having not ate I was quickly distracted by the wine they were offering and just stared off into space as Mal was introducing me to everyone as a travel blogger. I’d mentally giggle to myself while nodding. I finally interrupted to say I just had to eat before I went full black out mode and wouldn’t be a very good guest at all. She was understanding and we walked next door. Immediately I noticed the stench of cigarette smoke mixed with burgers and fries that reminded me of my childhood. It was intensely dark and had a haze through the upper part of the walls. It seemed just perfect to me. We sat by ourselves after ordering food from the bar. We caught up and I was laughing until I had to excuse myself to the restroom where I almost peed myself. Thats’ a good laugh. We then headed over to the outdoor market where Malissa seemed to know everyone. And everyone was so kind and inviting. Which is strange coming from Dallas. I walk into a room at random here in Dallas and no one notices. And maybe they wouldn’t have noticed there either but being with Malissa was different.
We had to make a quick trip home to relieve Malissa’s mother from baby sitting duties before heading back out for our REAL girl’s night out. It was decided that when we’d head back out we’d go to downtown. It was starting to rain a bit as we walked into this downtown hotel that Malissa raved about the hotel upstairs patio. After grabbing our drinks we’re stopped on the stairs by a man excited to finally meet Malissa as she is a ‘public figure’ here in Little Rock. I just about died with pleasure about hearing that! Our Malissa? A public figure! As we reached the patio, it started to pour down. The rain whipped at both sides of the entry way while we decided to hold out until the rest of the patrons got wet enough to leave so we could rule the area by ourselves.
We laughed more about the man on the stairs and thought about how we’d just have to live here now with the weather being as tumultuous as this. After getting a bit soaked ourselves, we finally drifted back downstairs and borrowed an umbrella then took the stroll back to the car while giggling at the site of us. We got in the car and headed towards a place called Reno’s to meet up with some of her friends.
This is where the night gets blurry.
I was apparently banging everyone’s drinks on the table then chugging them.
I fell asleep at the bar.
I was a great hit.
The next morning I woke up on an air mattress in a baby’s room. I walked out of the room laughing already mumbling something about finding my socks. Malissa was warming up her vocals for her show at a drag brunch. I’m surprised she is even awake. What a responsible person. From her house, we head to the show. She’s one of the first to arrive. We sit to the side of the stage ordering fancy drinks and after 3 I can no longer say I’m hungover but back into drunk mode. I sit outside and remind myself that I have to drive home for 5 hours in just a couple hours. I tell Malissa that I”m going to lay down in the car until her time to sing. Just then they call her onstage. She sings Sia. And I am fully blown away. I record the whole thing like she’s my daughter and this is her first talent show. Afterwards so many people go up to her and tell her how amazing she is while I just smile. To have such talent. No wonder everyone in this town loves and adores her. Its really beautiful to see.
From there we leave to go have mexican food to sober me up. I ate until I was physically sick. Which is just my style and had nothing to do with the alcohol, I don’t think. I said my goodbyes to Malissa in the car and drove off into the sunset. If it wasn’t just 3pm.
It was an amazing 24 hours in Little Rock despite some initial anxiety. I feel so lucky to know Malissa. So many of my friends are amazing and talented and beautiful. During this trip I got to know her on a more personal level. We talked and laughed so much that I wish I could go back every month and do that with her.