I knew this weekend might be hard. I've been struggling with some anxiety-slash-existential crisising that tends to be worse around holidays that mean a lot of social and family stuff going on. So I did what I don't want to do at all when that's happening (because I never said I was normal, what?) and I started reaching out to make some plans to be with some, you know, other human beings.
My friend Jen likes to hike and look at leaves and climb things, and in fact works to teach little children to enjoy these things as well. These are things I'm not prone to doing at all usually when left to my own devices, but that means it's good for me to get off my ass and do it, I just need a little help figuring out where to go, apparently. Maryland, in spite of an unfair reputation as DC's phantom limb plus Baltimore (which I love, too) is really quite beautiful, and there are some mountainy places within an hour of my house.
We went here:
I sat on a rock at the bottom of a place near there, while she did that:
There are days when I would be willing to push myself to go up there, too. Yesterday I felt kind of like a jerk that it was not one of those days, but I also knew that I wasn't feeling so strong. I hadn't slept much. I needed peace more than adrenaline right now, enjoyment rather than mastery of my surroundings (Fancy!), and plus I'd already walked a lot on the Cliffs Trail, so whatever.
I also got it that what I was thinking of mostly as I sat there at the bottom of those falls, rather than the accomplishment of scaling the rocks and seeing the little water pools and colorful, poorly-placed tattoos of those high-schoolers up there up close, was how many more calories I'd burn doing that rather than sitting right there on my rapidly-expanding ass. I've got some body image stuff going on right now, heyyyyyyy, and I really need to show it who's alpha or I'll end up 'round the mental bend and I do not need that right now for any other reason.
Anyway, this day altogether at the end of it was a completely soul- and mind-clearing experience, all of those things you may like to think are dirty lies that people tell you about hiking and camping (which I have still never done) but they really aren't. The weather was perfect and I got time to spend with a friend and talk through the stuff going on in our lives, when I wasn't wheezing and leaning against a rock hoping I wouldn't die as she said "YOU wanted to take the CLIFFS TRAIL, LAURIE WHITE. When they FIND US just REMEMBER THAT."
Plus I put my dirty, unpedicured feet into this, you guys:
I also learned the origin of the phrase "blaze a trail," so, linguistics! Idiomatic studies!
Then I saw goats on the highway on the way back, and I got to yell "GOATS!" because honestly, I pathetically love goats and if I had an animal farm it would be a goat farm, even though I know that making that crazy expensive cheese is a fat load of work that I don't really want to do, so I'd be, like, a social media writer person with goats, and I don't know if that would be the best idea.
I was kind of done in emotionally at that point. How much can a nature-starved suburban person take in a day before leaves start to sprout from your brain? It was like that time I had an art hangover in Florence, except everything was mostly green and not Catholic and gilt and boobs. That is until we passed a huge spray-painted sign that said "BIKER BASH" in front of a highway bar called Fat Daddy's, because this weekend is Rolling Thunder in DC (I skipped going this year, but if you're ever in DC on Memorial Day Weekend, you should go. This is where I tell you why. It's pretty great.) And we joked about going in, but I was only half-joking, one because bikers are generally nice and fun guys who are way less creepy than your average guy in a bar, true story, and they will never, ever judge you for how much beer you drink (that is how you tell a fake biker from a real one: beer judgment.) And two because I was imagining somehow being a bit player or maybe the main girl (AU REVOIR SIMONE!) in a reenactment of the Pee-Wee's Big Adventure Tequila scene, which is some fine cinema with which I hope you are acquainted.
Afterwards, there was beer, and these perfect little bloody Mary oyster shooters, because the best kind of naturalist friend is the one who knows her not-quite-so-naturalist-friend quite well.
I hate this picture of me, but I am happy in it, so there, so here it is, killing me softly, living on my internet website.
After two of these I ended up reeling off all of the ways in which Jen needed a social media strategy and dammit, she was going to have a blog, because there had to be other people on the internet who were as interested in showing children and even people like me who really don't care about leaves and plants and general woodland life.
I am just dim enough to need days like this to remind me that things in my life that are troubling me look different, and often not as overwhelming, when I change my scenery with some purpose. They were still there, they were still things that were concerning me or that I had framed as problems that I needed to solve with my imperfect little mind, but I was in motion. I was taking pictures because I like to, which is something I forget to do an awful lot for someone who loves to do it so much. I wasn't sitting still and fretting in my living room or in my car or wherever else I like to turn over to the bad neighborhoods in my mind.
I wasn't panicking and missing the present. I was moving my body in a healthy way. I don't know when this became such a remarkable occurrence, honestly.
I basically need to get outside more often.