Brambles, and other running mishaps
I am melting I am burning. The sun is out and I can’t say no. My legs are two caramels growing ever softer. I know shade exists but instead I think–ice cream. In the future I will have ice cream and it will be good. Though on sticky melted caramel legs will I be able to get there?
My life lately has been an experiment in solitude. I adore being around people, but I don’t want to need them, so I’m practicing being okay with being alone. So far this looks like a lot of reading. I read all of Anne Carson’s Plainwater in two days, which put me in a very romantic and poetic mood. I too want to mix metaphors and faux interview a seventh century poet and drive across the country with my lover! (ok, done that)
Yesterday, after baking ginger rose cookies and roasting squash down to baby food and bleaching the walls, I went for a run. I was excited to explore and enjoy the sunshine so I pushed myself to take wrong turns. I ran and ran and suddenly found myself on a beach. I saw Seattle across the water from an angle I had never seen before; I had gone north. I cut in, keeping my eyes downcast for shells and other treasures. My memory holds my collections. My weak, scary-bad memory. Now you see why I write?
I saw rocks and shells tightly crusted with the thinnest, brightest green leaves–or was it cellophane? I saw, are they called sand dollars? One lightly etched with branches radiating from the center. I walked gingerly, ever so carefully, but CRUNCH. Never carefully enough. Keep your souvenirs in your mind and you’ll still leave footprints.
Big rocks gave way to little rocks gave way to sand. I kept going. I thought I’d walk home along the beach, but water bisected my path. Sand gave way to mud. An old fallen tree held itself up on three branches and I quickly scooted underneath, tempting fate. The mud tried to inhale me as I hopped and I wondered if I was fearing danger from the wrong direction.
I saw stairs hidden underneath branches tightly clustered with leaves. One more leaf and I wouldn’t have seen anything at all. Climbed and soon I was in someone’s backyard–oops. I moved slowly, half trying to be inconspicuous, half greedily committing to memory this beautiful home with chickens and a spiral staircase to the second story deck. I was spotted and scolded, lightly. Back to the run.
A few wrong turns later and I was face-to-face with the highway. Run across the highway? Run along the highway? I crossed, the lesser of two evils. Huge, impossibly huge bushes of yellow flowers told me I had made the right choice. I ventured further, along a people-made path that alerted me of humans past. What is it like to be the first person in a place, I wondered. Are there any places humans have not yet explored, I wondered. The path thinned but I pressed on, giddy on exploration. I could not do this in Seattle, I thought. In Seattle nature is parks; Bainbridge is still wild.
Ducking under branches, I crossed two-thirds a bridge (or rather, two-thirds of a bridge remained and I crossed all of it). Now where? No person-made path here. In the distance I saw a solid square house with smoke rising from the chimney. People, I thought. There must be a road up there. So I pressed on, trampling many yellow flowers.
Flowers gave way to grasses that reached up to my shoulders, at least. Some were green and some were dry and tan. Some were piled on the ground, piles upon piles. Am I trampling a crop circle, I wondered. Strange plants brushed up against my bare legs and allergies flitted across my mind. O I had no idea what was to come.
Finally behind the house. There is a fence. An old, chain-link fence, seemingly made of the same caramel as my sunny legs. I could tie it in a knot but I cannot scale it. No place to put my foot, no place to heave or ho. And just behind the fence (where I am) brambles. Brambles and thorns. Why did I not notice this before? I am trapped. One side that taffy joke of a fence which I guess is not such a joke after all as it is keeping me away. Three sides brambles. How did I get here? How do I get out? I try to go around the fence like that children’s song. My mind is on the road: there must be a road in front of this house, there are people here, smoke is coming out of the chimney. I am not the first human to have explored this place. Are they watching me now, from their rosy smokey windows, watching me cry amid the brambles?
My tears come and go like violent storms on a windy day. I step high to break the flora before it has a chance to grab me, but I remain trapped. Will I be trapped here forever, I wonder. No one would find me. I start to think of poisonous snakes and other terrors.
After a while, a while plus a while, I am back on top of the dry grasses. My thighs are scratched and rashed and bleeding, and the fight’s not over. As easy as it was to slip from the flowers to the bridge to the woods to the grass, it is impossible to find from whence I came. I contort myself under dry tree limbs like Tom Cruise slithering under lasers to get to a precious jewel. I leap over a small stream, shimmy under a rusted metal fence (electric? it couldn’t be), fight my way to the top of a small hill. And I am free.