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Winter 2023

How my family and I celebrate the winter holidays has taken a more subtle, calmer meaning. With the end of an era on my maternal side, there wasn’t much I wanted to do aside from rest, recharge, and ponder my children, and my husband’s roles in this new phase of our lives, much like the animals and plants that hibernate in winter. We have made it to the PNW, have been here for nearly two years and we all have a collective plan for achieving our goal of living out the rest of our lives without the chaos, bullshit, and stress that most slaves to society wouldn’t dare try.

The end of 2022 left me wary emotionally, mentally. Towards the midway point of 2022, my healing process crossed paths with my husband’s. I didn’t quite realize he had begun his own journey and had been trying to process suppressed emotions he didn’t recognize in the past, such as PTSD, childhood emotional, mental, and physical abuse. Men in his generation, especially men of color, have a gross reputation of resolving to toxic masculinity instead of crying, taking the time to process their feelings and all of the aforementioned thanks to the boomer freaks they were raised by. But, unlike most of these men such as the grimy, perverted, racist scumbag that raised him, my husband has found meaning, love and worth in deconstructing the emotional roadblocks that have stood in the way of our partnership for most of our seventeen years together. And for awhile there, in 2022, I didn’t think we would last if we couldn’t reach each other and transcend.

That meant I needed to refocus, throw my blanket off of me and crawl out of my pit of despair, grief, and longing to find a way to offer him comfort, support, and, more importantly, patience and understanding. I chose to take a step back from my typical mindset that cis men can get fucked; I am not their therapist. He is worth it.

My dude has never been one to enjoy receiving gifts and he has always loathed his birthday, which comes shortly after new years. It hit me that he has never been fully celebrated on the day he came to existence, he never felt worthy enough or loved enough to be worth celebrating. It breaks my heart every year. So, this time around, I wanted to give my husband more – a gift of endless love, support, and comfort. I was determined to envelop him with all that soothes his passionate and truly sensitive soul and finally give him a reason to look forward to his birthday.

He’s a big boy and takes care of his materialistic wants. It wasn’t a wrapped package or gift card he needed. So, I told him on the winter solstice that I would find a cabin in the woods for the two of us to spend his birthday weekend. While my capacity to socialize is hibernating, my magic is still flowing. A simple summoning spell brought The Stormking Cabins & Spa to my browser and before I even looked into the details of its whereabouts in Washington State it was, I knew this was the place.

There was magic in the name of the location itself. My husband, to me, is a Viking sailor-stud with broad shoulders, a hairy chest, long hair, a beard that I love twirling my fingers in and often daydream about sitting on. We both love dark and cloudy days and rain. Prior to the little getaway, he had found a perfect Pagan/Norse playlist for the two hour drive to the Stormking. On the way, the PNW weather did not disappoint, it was cloudy and steadily raining the entirety of the drive. The closer we got to the base of Mt. Rainier Nat’l Park, the darker and quieter the environment around us became.

My Review Of The Stormking Spa and Cabins…

Located just minutes from the main entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park, five cozy cabins and outdoor spas are encircled by tall cedars and icy Goat Creek, guests at Stormking enjoy peaceful accommodations in a mountain setting near Ashford WA.

We arrived about an hour and a half before check-in time with the hopes of getting our weekend started early but realized we needed some essentials (e.g., coffee creamer, our pillows, prosecco, and whiskey), so it wasn’t a big deal when the owners asked that we return in order for our spa to be fully heated. In the meantime, we were able to check out their selection of DVDs, VHS tapes, and CDs.

You see, the internet was very crappy where our cabin was located. Therefore we couldn’t stream anything or watch cable. Unless our music was already downloaded, well, thats what the CD’s were for. Other than me needing to check in on my kids occasionally, I welcomed the challenge of not being attached to screens. I didn’t forget to pack my notepad and a bunch of pens. I had two books and a deck of affirmation cards. We were set.

Once our cabin was ready, I wanted to get familiar with the amenities. All of which ended up being superbly clean, crafty, and humble. The Stormking is a self-catering lodge which adds to the appeal. The fewer humans we encountered, if any, the better.

It’s the little things for me. To have an actual coffee maker with a ground house blend lessened the worry of where to get our morning brew. Even the coffee filters were stored in a way that inspired me to reduce waste and reuse at home. There was a perfect size mini-fridge for our newly purchased bottle of prosecco, whiskey, coffee creamer and some homemade tamales from a local-ish resident. We found them too late, but the ice trays were in the shape of little hearts.

Two clean and comfortable robes were provided with more than enough towels and typical bathroom amenities. The heat was controlled by the fireplace which turned out to be more than sufficient since we didn’t have our extra pillows and blankets. We didn’t need them.

Comfortable is an understatement for how it felt sleeping in a deeply secluded forest under a magnifying skylight, with steady rain that woke us from our sleep to coax an acknowledgment and smiles from the couple healing together under the warm blankets within The Raven Cabin.

I have to admit that there were a few moments during our stay that gave me The Ring and Cabin In The Woods vibes. The short drive to our cabin was eerily familiar and comparable to the one Naomi Watts drove into before she was cursed by the black VHS tape. Other than my hours in therapy, to be welcomed by a “You’re Now Entering A Stressfree Zone” seemed a bit suspect. And that’s because I know what goes down in Cabin In The Woods. I can’t be the only horror fan that doesn’t get a bit wigged out while in a deep, dark wood with no bars, am I?

It was when the clouds took a break and allowed us to soak and charge under the first full moonlight of 2023 when I settled down. During our time in Socal, we always talked about stargazing but, with so much light pollution and trips to the High Desert at night being out of the question, I am Black and I’ve seen The Hills Have Eyes), Our time at the Stormking afforded us a clear sky where the bright light of the moon eased my horror movie worries. That night we saw Mars, and then to the west, Jupiter and Saturn. The stars seemed reachable.

But it was the spa that drew us to the Stormking and it is one aspect we keep talking about. It’s been some time since I’ve wanted to sit in a hot tub. I can’t stand the heat! However, in a setting where the woods are at arm’s length, a rushing creek close by, consistent rainfall, and temperatures with highs of the low 40s; Well, it was comfort, rest, and relaxation we both needed more than we realized.

I’d choose the Stormking Spa & Cabins over any five start hotel.

In our weekend spent secluded together, we grasped that the two of us had not spent more than a few hours alone, overnight in some years. Even with our move from SoCal to the PNW, we weren’t actually paying attention to each other. We were establishing a new home. I can’t remember the last time my husband and I spent a restful weekend away. The two of us identified one of our biggest problems and made promises to not ever let more than a few months go by before stepping away from the everyday.

Perhaps it was the echos and enchanting spirits that hung out by the edge of the tree line to The Raven Cabin, but my husband didn’t struggle to give me more insight into his past thus granting me trust with emotions he had long buried and forgotten. It has taken a long time for my husband to share his initial feelings for me and to trust me with his vulnerability. While I loved listening to his stories (it was a relief not being the only one sharing tales of the past) my heart ached for him. We opened up more doors to our relationship.

My empathy-hell even my sympathy for het-men has mostly diminished because most refuse to embark on healing journeys and deal with their emotions. More than once, I almost gave up on my husband for the same reasons. When I found my own worth, I wasn’t going to keep diminishing myself for his comfort or for my complacency. Truthfully, It’s been a few years since he began his own evolution. And I have been on mine. I wonder what he’s witnessed in me because I’ve witnessed this man do all he can to dismantle the toxic and dangerous traits he was raised with. I’ve observed him trying to break the generational curse he was afflicted by in order to heal and find worth in himself not just how he’s able to help everyone with everything.

Therefore, while I recharge and reinforce my empathy, I am directing the little I have toward the guy that stands by my side and lifts me up on a pedestal higher than Mt. Rainier. We decided the Stormking needs to become a traditional place for just the two of us. Whether it’s for his birthday or a magic getaway. With so many losses and fleeting ghosts in 2022, I look back on it all, my entire past, it’s only been my husband that finds me worthy and deserving to live the life I want. He just wants to be a part of it.

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