So I Dated a Lumberjack
Posted on November 12, 2015
So this one time, I dated a lumberjack. No no, not like a hipster lumbersexual, I dated a real lumberjack. I’m speaking in the past tense because right now he is quite literally living out of his car in the woods somewhere between Baja and Montana, like one of those made for TV movies. His hour-long special would be something in between Into the Wild and a Lifetime Original movie. Jason Preistley would play him on TV.
Lumberjack and I met online, naturally (not naturally online). He had a charming profile photo of a rugged looking New York man wearing plaid – and who can resist a man in plaid? His pictures told the story of a DJ, who loved the mountains, babies, AND road trips (swoon). He greeted me over text with a “Howdy,” which I found unique and charming. And so our texts led to our first date at a bar in Brooklyn called Camp. When I walked in to meet him, there was a canoe in the corner and people were huddled around small tables roasting marshmallows and looking cute. Soooo hipster. When Lumberjack arrived, he looked even better than his photos. He was wearing the same red plaid shirt from his profile picture and a Carhartt jacket. His face was scruffy and when he sat down he took his jacket off and the first thing he said was, “I actually wear this coat because I was cutting wood outside today, not to be hip. I hate Brooklynites who wear Carhartt cause it’s cool.” Wow, I thought, a real mountain man right here in BK.
Lumberjack ordered us each a hot toddy and we went to sit in the back by the canoe. Sitting there next to this lumberjack, beside a canoe AND a roaring fire, made me feel like I had been transported into the backwoods of Montana, and I was feeling it…all of it. In my mind, he would soon regale me with stories of growing up in a small cabin in the mountains with his parents who raised him to fly fish and ride horses bareback with his wavy blonde hair… oh wait, that’s Brad Pitt from A River Runs Through It. Anyway, I was there next to that canoe, with a hot toddy in my hand and a lumberjack who just today (!) had been chopping wood!
“Wow,” I said. “You were chopping wood today?! Where, how, that sounds amazing. Tell me evvvverything.”
“Sometimes I need to just get out of the city and chop things, ya know?” I did know! Pinch me please! So far, these ten minutes had led me to the lumberjack of my dreams, and I didn’t even know I was looking for one!
I wanted to stay on this high. I wanted to stay beside this lumberjack, next to a canoe on Smith Street in Brooklyn, forever. But then he said, “I love this jacket. I bought it at the Salvation Army like a year before I hit the road.” Turns out, Lumberjack wasn’t from Montana after all. He grew up in New Jersey. He was a Harvard graduate and after graduation he moved to NYC to live the life of a software developer, while DJing Hip Hop on the weekends. Eventually, he made the move from Manhattan to Brooklyn to try and get some “air,” but he still “couldn’t breathe.” He needed nature, and not just an afternoon hike in Cold Springs. He needed a Carhartt jacket and an axe. So he took his savings, bought a shiny white Land Rover and a camper to attach to the back, and he hit the highway.
So, I had been duped. Super duped. But, after three hot toddies, he was still a Lumberjack to me. “Wanna see my camper?” (he actually asked me this). I mean, OF COURSE I wanted to see his camper. But, I did spend a year working on a television series about Serial Killers, and I knew better than to follow a strange man into his camper on a first date. So instead, Lumberjack came home with me.
When we got home, I was so transfixed by this wild natured man that I wanted to impress him by creating the right ambience. In my world, the right ambience was the Netflix Fireplace For Your Home channel. I guess I wanted Lumberjack to see how city girls start fires. So, I turned on my Netflix, turned down the lights, and we sat on the couch watching a televised fireplace roar. And instead of a love scene on an animal skinned carpet, we both fell asleep on the couch, only to be awoken at 5am by the Fireplace For Your Home Christmas station blaring Silent Night. Festive, I know.
The next morning Lumberjack broke the bad news to me. His bags were packed and he was ready to go. He was heading back out West and he didn’t know when he’d return. So, I walked him to his camper, watched him climb into the front seat of his brand new white Land Rover, and waved as he drove off into the sunset.
The story doesn’t end there. Lumberjack and I kept in touch. He would text me photos of himself chopping wood, taking hikes, and pitching his tent. I would return the sentiment with photos of my Netflix Fireplace, to which he’d respond with LOL.
Now, I have to admit something here. While Lumberjack was gone, I was having fantasies about him whisking me away in his camper. Maybe we’d drive to Guatemala and start a non-profit in a rural community, and everyone would call him Lumberjack and I’d be Mrs. Lumberjack, and we’d learn Spanish and raise our kids in the Winnebago of our dreams. All he had to do was ask.
A year went by and suddenly, Lumberjack was back in NYC for the winter season, living in Bushwick (in his camper) and developing software. I told him I’d meet him for a hot toddy by the canoe at Camp on Smith Street. It took him over an hour to find parking for his camper, and when he walked into the bar he was wearing hiking boots caked in dirt, and that SAME red plaid shirt. He was sorry he was late, but he spent the day at a wildlife refuge in Oyster Bay bird watching in twenty-degree weather. He looked different than I remembered. Instead of the handsome stubble, his face was covered in a monstrous lumberbeard, untrimmed and untamed.
“I’m DJing in Williamsburg this weekend,” he told me.
Bye-bye birdie. In that one sentence, my Guatemalan dreams were crushed, and suddenly I was sitting next to the guy who bought his Carhartt jacket at the Salvation Army on Atlantic Ave., and his Land Rover from the dealership in Jersey City. Maybe his red plaid shirt was the only shirt he owned. And it dawned on me that I had been making up stories about Lumberjack, alone by my Netflix fireplace, beside my space heater, all winter long. I’m not mad about it. I really enjoyed the time I spent with Lumberjack before he hit the open road again. He reminded me that despite our past, we can choose to be whoever we’d like to be, and we can choose to believe any story we create. Sometimes the stories we make up help us through long, cold ass, New York City winters, and other times they create impossible fairytale men (straight out the L.L Bean catalog) that distract us from what’s real.
Was Lumberjack really the man of my dreams? He lived in his camper. He hadn’t trimmed his beard in a year. And he wouldn’t stop talking about his jacket. You do the math.
The last time I heard from Lumberjack, he was parked in the backlot of a Chinese restaurant somewhere in Utah. “This isn’t quite what I expected,” he wrote. To which I responded, LOL.