When I was seven, (it’s always seven when I recount any story from my childhood and I wonder why that is) I got lost in the woods between my grandmother’s house and the beach attached to Cold Spring Harbor. One moment, I was pushing past thick, waxy green leaves and jumping over the bends in the thin tree trunks and suddenly, all I could see were trees for miles in every direction. I tried to work my way back to her house, sniffing around for a whiff of her old dog or the steaks she was making for dinner, but it was hopeless and the sky was getting darker. I walked until I reached a clearing with a large oak tree in the middle with a tree house in its branches. I climbed the ladder made of slats of wood and entered the establishment through a small portal in the floor. The inside was covered in spider webs and the only thing other than me in it was a broken old chair. I laid down on the floor and fell asleep.
I don’t remember who found me or when they found me. I don’t remember anything else and now I wonder if it was a dream. But I do know that I hadn’t thought about that day since this past fall over fall break when I went to visit my perpetually unstable rock of a life love, Matt, in Atlanta, Georgia where he attends school. I got there, with my blood rushing, on the verge of crying the second I saw him. Our reunions always warrant this exact reaction from me. My heart feels heavy and my head feels light and he always puts his arms out knowing that I’m ready to sleep in them after months of their vacancy. I had been there for only three hours when he asked me if I wanted to eat mushrooms the following day. I had thought about it before and it had appealed to me as a one time experience, but had decidedly turned it down several times when it had been offered. But there was something engaging about the prospect this time, and I hope that it is deemed appropriate for me to discuss the experience on a class blog in the spirit of nature writing, experimentation, and introspection. I had researched the drug extensively before and continued to research it for the rest of night. By the next morning, I told Matt that I would do it with him.
It was ten a.m. and we had already ingested the dry, stringy fungi between handfuls of Cheerios, washing the bits down with Powerade, trying to mask the taste. We lay in Lullwater Park, holding hands, looking at the trees, and asking each other, “Do you feel it, baby?” At first, I didn’t. And then suddenly, the tree above me stretched its limbs as if waking and I uncontrollably, with every emotion inside of me, began the slowest, most quiet, sob I had ever produced. It was unbelievably beautiful and scary at the same time and I desperately wanted to be wrapped in its limbs. He asked me why I was crying and I couldn’t speak. The emotion was overwhelming. When the crying was over, the effects were in full force and we traveled to the woods paths that twisted throughout the park, venturing to the denser area of the woods to smell what different flowers smelled like and so that I could put my bare feet on a tree that had fallen over. As we were exploring, we came across an old tower that shot out of the canopy of the trees, and was covered in vines and graffiti. He asked if I wanted to go inside and I burst into tears yet again. The tower represented everything that had ever hurt me or scared me. It was looming and dripping with wetness from the vines. I stood outside of it for fifteen minutes, staring at the adjacent river, when suddenly I realized I could conquer it. It wasn’t scary. It was somewhere where we could rest; somewhere that could protect us from how lost we were in the park. My memory expanded and I remembered the treehouse and how I hadn’t been scared to sleep in it. I went up to the tower and saw Matt standing in it, with light from the open roof pouring onto him, illuminating everything I have ever loved about him and everything I have despised. He was the sixteen year old I fell in love with and the twenty year old who sometimes abandons me between these emotional visits. I am the fool who loves a fool; I’ll never deny it.
When we got back to his house, I searched furiously for paper and a pen, needing desperately to write down something, anything, about the nature I had just experienced and was continuing to experience as the trip began to ease me back into normalcy. What I wrote, I have posted at the bottom of this entry.
My parents didn’t raise us with religion in the house, but they raised us with faith in each other and in nature, rather than in a God or a church or temple. To this day, I feel most connected to myself when I am with the people I love, mostly my family, and in nature, and therefore, my Lullwater Park experience was my salvation. I am not condoning drugs here, I am condoning the experiences that remind us of our faith, whether it be religious or not. Since the experience, I try to spend most of my time outdoors. It clears my head and more importantly, it reminds me of those that I love and the place where I feel the most safe, lost in the woods with a good place to sleep, cradled by the idea of those who love me unconditionally.
A Record of Life
Down by a pluff mud covered
river bank, memory is sitting
only survived by time once it’s gone.
Carol Ann said the loneliest feeling is being in love.
I believe it is standing on the white asphalt
in white light, even dust falling- uncatchable.
Looking at green growing in a hazel iris,
looking at you, looking past you.
Wave your hand once to show
we are really here, love.
We made it.
We are one thing-
here, in a bed, breathing.
And now I’m remembering grammar is
just another social construct.
Like everything but time, which is,
a sidewalk we walk on.