Camper Dreams

Posted on in On Our Radar by Lisa Daron Grossman

On Dating a Lumberjack


This one time, I dated a lumberjack. I’m speaking in past tense because he is quite literally living out of his car in the woods somewhere between Baja and Montana. He has one of those made-for-TV movie lives, something between Into the Wild and a Lifetime Original movie. Jason Preistley would play him.

Now don’t get jealous. The reason I’m disclosing this is because you too could meet a lumberjack. Where? Online of course! Since I’ve started online dating, I’ve dated a scientologist, a shaman, a circus clown, a trapeze artist, a Mormon, a millionaire, a magician, a furniture designer, and a botanist. Each and every time I’ve met someone, I’ve listened to the stories of their lives. Sometimes I’m bored. Most times I’m enthralled. Every time it’s an experience.

Our first date was at a bar called Camp, where there was a canoe in the corner and people were huddled around tables roasting marshmallows and looking cute. When he arrived, he looked even better than his photos. He was wearing the same red plaid shirt from his profile picture and a Carhartt jacket. The first thing he said was, “I was just chopping wood. Sometimes, I need to get out of the city and chop things.” Pinch me, please!

Lumberjack ordered us each a hot toddy, and we went to sit in the back by the canoe. I felt like I had been transported into the backwoods of Montana, and in my mind, he would soon regale me with stories of growing up in a small cabin in the mountains with parents who raised him to fly fish and ride horses bareback, and he had wavy blond hair . . . oh wait, that’s Brad Pitt from A River Runs Through It.

“I grew up in New Jersey,” Lumberjack said, as the air in my balloon began to hiss. Turns out, Lumberjack wasn’t from Montana after all. He was a Harvard graduate, living the dream of a software developer while DJing hip-hop on the weekends. “But one day, I just couldn’t breathe,” he said. He needed the Carhartt jacket, an axe, and the open road. So he bought a shiny white Land Rover and a camper to attach to the back, and hit the highway.

funny man with hummer

For a city girl like me, I found this pretty sexy, and after three hot toddies, Lumberjack said, “Wanna see my camper?” I mean, of course I wanted to see his camper, but I knew better than to follow a strange man into his mobile home on a first date. So Lumberjack came home with me.

When we got home, I was ready to impress. I turned down the lights and turned on the Netflix Fireplace For Your Home channel—I wanted Lumberjack to see how city girls start fires. There was no steamy love scene; we fell asleep watching a televised fire roar.

Next morning, Lumberjack broke the bad news—he was heading back out West and didn’t know when he’d return. So I walked him to his camper, watched him climb into the front seat of his 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.” (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 nonprofit 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.)

A year went by, and suddenly Lumberjack was back, developing software from his camper. I told him I’d meet him for a hot toddy by the canoe. It took him over an hour to find parking, and when he walked into the bar he was wearing the same red plaid shirt. He was sorry he was late, but he spent the day at a wildlife refuge birdwatching. He looked different than I remembered. Instead of handsome stubble, his face was covered in an untrimmed, untamed lumberbeard, just like his newfound lifestyle.

“I’m DJing this weekend,” he told me. “You should come.”

Bye-bye, birdie. In that one sentence, my Guatemala dreams were crushed, and suddenly I was sitting next to a guy from New Jersey. It dawned on me then that I had been making up stories about Lumberjack all winter long. I’m not mad about it. I really enjoyed the time I spent with him before he hit the open road. He reminded me that there are so many people with stories waiting to be heard and so many connections waiting to be made. Online dating is just one way to tap into the vastness of humanity, and with the click of a mouse, we are offered endless possibilities for connection and experience. We just never know who is going to walk through the door, and to me, that is pretty extraordinary.

Lumberjack and I kept in touch for two years. When he would swoop back into town, he’d regale me with stories from Tijuana to Tennessee. The last time I heard from him, he was surfing in Nicaragua. It’s no Guatemala, and I’m not sure if his lumberbeard survived the heat, but he did trade in his Land Rover for a Winnebago.

Lisa Daron Grossman is a professional creativity and empowerment life coach, helping people discover the muse within them so they can confidently and joyously share their stories.

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