A salad and a large cup of coffee in hand, I made my way to the state park. It was a beautiful day out, 69 degrees with clear azure skies. I was taking myself out on a date.
I pulled into the gravel lot and gathered my things before heading to the pay meter. When I got there, I discovered four men and women dressed in 15th century garb making LARPing jokes.
I’d seen the flyer. It was a local theater group performing The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer.
“There’s nothing wrong with LARPing.” One of them proclaimed.
“You’re right.” I said, smiling at their acceptance of nerd culture. “There is nothing wrong with LARPing.”
I moved on. After passing the set for the play and four horse heads on sticks (for galloping purposes, of course), I began to take in the scenery and fall into a pensive state.
I miss everyone who went to college. A lot.
Feeling a little too sorry for myself for comfort, I rambled on until I found what I was looking for: the water.
I clambered down a steep clay and root infested slope to the ideal place to relax and read; the vast expanse of an outlet to the sea was before me and several large smooth rocks lined the pebble beach, providing me a place on which to sit.
Breathe in, breathe out. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sensation of the brackish air. When I looked at my surroundings again, I was struck with the desire to roll up my pants and walk into the water. I left my stuff one the shore and stepped slowly towards the grey-blue glass.
I anticipated the chill of the water, the embrace of the weight around my ankles pulling me in closer to the Earth’s heartbeat.
Schwoop. Thud. My jaw struck rock and my tweaked wrist held my torso slightly aloft. I lay face down, soaked from hips to toes. Waves of pain pulsed through my head. I didn’t move. I searched for some significance to my crash. There was none. It was just a combination of slippery rock and bad footing.
Having recovered from my slight trauma, I hoisted myself up with my good side and trudged back to safety. I was battered with clay and served up on a platter of embarrassment. I won’t be trying that again.
My goal was to relax until the sun fell behind the trees, and so I did, reading the lit mag of my community college until I reached a short story so overwhelming that I couldn’t read another piece after.
The sun had set and the cold was beginning to hit my core. I packed up my things and headed back the way I came, overpowered to tears by the parting of my friends, the shock of my fall, and the influence of the short story. As I reached the entrance to the park, I spotted two friends from high school approaching in the distance.
I looked down at my clothes, composed my expression, and smiled. When we met on the path, I immediately began explaining my haggard appearance.
“I fell into the river. That’s why I’m covered in dirt and soaked.”
I should also mention that I pick up litter sometimes when I see it, so I had a dirty Styrofoam plate, a mud filled Gatorade bottle, and a full bag of dog poop in the hand not holding my bag.
“And these aren't mine either. They’re litter. I’m sure I look like a crazy homeless person right now.”
“It looks like you just buried a body.”
We discussed books for Nepal, and the Canterbury players. I asked if they saw the horse heads on sticks. They said there was just a human head now. I didn't understand.
After deciding we should hang out sometime, we parted, and I walked past the pick-up truck that once had the four play horses leaned up against it. Sitting on the bed of truck was a single, Styrofoam, human head. I burst into laughter.
So the moral of this story is that you’ll never know where you’ll find adventure and comfort from solitude, and that I probably shouldn't go walking alone in a park again.
Bean’ schooled by life.