Outpatient Amendments: Between the banana and the hilltop.
“Doe. A deer. A female deer. Ray. A drop of golden sun.”-The Sound of Music
I’m picking up some habits here that are cathartic. Hiking. I can sit and type for hours but once that's done my mind turns on to other things I cant think about. Today was one of them, I woke up feeling like a suicidal ghost. Thinking about all the wrongs things, making up scenarios that don't exist, furious that I didn't drift off into sleep and not wake up. I had to get up and get out of this house. Throw a dart on a map and head that direction.
The walk to Oregon Ridge park was a far and rather annoying trek. I found one a little closer that I could walk to in under an hour, Loch Raven trails. Its a lot colder today then it was yesterday by at least 14 degrees, the ground is wet and there is no sun out today. Fuck it, lets roll. Protein shake, fruit, protein bars in the backpack, hoodie and I’m out the door. Prepped for war. One mile down Warren road and another two on Bosley before I hit the park. This time around there were very little side walks so I had no option but to walk on the shoulder of the road, sometimes power walk through peoples front yards. In NYC people would scream and honk at me but here that doesn't happen, cars slow down and carefully drive past you. The people driving probably are calling you every bad thing in the dictionary but at least you don't hear it.
Man it was cold. My hands in my pockets and my hoodie up, the wind blowing side ways, glasses fogging up from my own breath. What a wonder. Today was a test of some nature or endurance. Some extradimensional beings were fucking laughing at me and I couldn't accept that. So I continued.
An hour goes by and I made it to the Loch Raven trail. At first I walked right past the entrance by mistake and wandered into a private property neighborhood. The kind that have their own front gates at the entrance of the entire sprawl. I thought this road leads to the original path so I kept walking straight. A few cars drove past me, slowing down ever slow slightly to glance at me because clearly I didn't look like I belonged in this area and I’m sure the only people who walk these streets are the ones who live here. So I’d smile and wave and the cars would drive away. I passed a few people in their drive ways with their children and dogs, surprisingly enough everyone smiled and said hello. One huge great Dane ran down the drive way and up to me, like he was welcoming me to their neck of the woods
How kind, thanks pooch, I have no idea where I’m going but thank you.
I made it to where the GPS said TRAIL and it ended in someone's driveway. I was staring at 4 houses, all gigantic mansions each with their own fucking pond and statues of Gods and a roundabout driveway with 4 cars in them. Goodness I was out of place. I wonder if they worship their God statues or lay flowers at their feet or do they just forget them and let them die. Must be nice, to have that choice. One day I’ll have this, one day we’ll have this and I’ll pay for the whole thing.
I walked down a long drive way that sloped to the south and into the woods. A 10 minute walk and the drive way ended. No trail but a big back yard lay in front of me. Hmm ok lets keep walking. I’m now trespassing on someone's property just to find a trail. Hey, its not my fault the GPS said to go this way. Its almost 11:30am and I’m poorly sneaking through a backyard, back hunched over hoping the family doesn't see some lost homeless man in their yard and it ruins their lunch of tapas and Icelandic spring water. Must be nice to be the actual 1% and not have to worry about shit.
The rich and poor, the big and small, both 20 feet from each other and only one sees the other.
The backyard ended and I was met with a black wired fence and no trail. Great now I have to shame walk back to the main road. I jogged this time at a different angle and tripped over some big wheels in a front yard before hitting the main road.
Lets try this again.
I finally hit the trail. Muddy, full of wet leaves and mostly inclined. Yup my test begins here. The trail was very narrow only wide enough two people and a dog. I need a walking stick. I stepped in a huge mud puddle on my first incline and decided it was time for hiking boots. 3.3 miles in and my stomach started to talk to me. I gotta stop just chugging coffee and leave for adventures in the morning. When I found some horizontal ground I found a tree that had fallen over which provided a fair place to sit and drink my shake.
The quiet the woods provided and wrapped me up in a blanket, a cold one but still. I love the woods, when wandering through them there's constant feel of calm and paralyzing fear that something is going to fall on your or some wild animal will sneak up on you and rip your throat out or one tick will fuck up your whole life with arthritis. Something is always trying to kill you in here, much like Australia.
Eating my lunch was quiet, staring into the middle distance not really focusing on anything. I could hear the voices in head start to get loud again. Telling me horrible things that will happen, who will leave me what will happen to me, I wont make it to 35 much less 40. A figure in the dark, hiding amongst the trees waited. I didn't need this. I didn't need this to follow me here today, today I came to try and be just a little more OK. All my senses I use in the world, taste, touch, memory was lying to me and I cannot trust it. So i yelled and my yell turned into a roar.
“shut the fuck up Kyle Shut THE fuck up, SHUT THE fuck up Kyle, SHUT the FUCK up KYLE SHUT YOUR MIND THE FUCK UP.”
And for a moment, however brief it may have been, my mind, the surroundings became quiet. I let out a quick winded exhale with Suprise. Huh, it worked. I now had control and I was going to hold to it. Or at least finish my lunch before I had to do it again.
Only a few minutes went by after the voices became silent did I then hear something crashing through the wood behind me. A friend had come by. A deer. A doe, probably just turning into an adult and having fun scampering around her home. She stopped in her tracks about 50 feet from me, I gave her a friendly “hello” and she looked in my direction, ears adjusting to the new sound. I was about to bite into my banana when I took a moment and stopped myself. “You hungry?” And then Ms. Doe slowly walked towards me. What the shit is happening to me out here. Ms. Doe stopped not 10 feet from the tree I was sitting on. As if answering my question “shit yeah man I’m hungry I’m tired of eating leaves and berries, what you got”. So, I ripped off half of my banana and tossed it at her feet. She gave it a smell, looked at me, took a little bite, looked at me again and then started to nibble on the fruit. Once again I am the druid of the forest. Man and beast breaking bread (or bananas) together.
We ate together in silence, admiring the situation that unfolded Infront of the two of us. When Ms. Doe had finished her half she looked at me, her tongue curled up the side of her nose and she ran off. Glad I could offer some help I continued down my trail.
2.7 more miles down the trail I came to a fork in the path. Going left seemed to zig zag and disappear into the trees, going right was a straight slope that seemed to go into the earth. I opted out of both and went straight, the more difficult of the three. Why? I don’t know. Penance, maybe. Mounds of grass fought to get in my shoes, thorn bushes the size of a small child, fallen trees uprooted over time from weather and wind. I liked my choice. I liked it because I found leaning against a tree the perfect walking stick. as if someone else had gone this way and left it for another traveler. a perfect stick, 4 feet tall with two small branches jutting out of it, one at the top and one 5 inches below it so I had and option on how much weight I could decide to put on the stick. It made everything much better, it gave me more balance, more speed. I wasn't sure where I was going, but I went there anyway. If I kept walking I discovered I did not have to think and I liked that.
When I thought, my mind went to places I could not control, places that were uncomfortable and that gave me a dry heaving sense of being so that is why I chose the harder path, exhaustion was the best option.
Soon the traffic jammed crowd of trees broke up and ahead through I could see a huge body of water. There's my goal, make it to the water and then find your way back. I picked up my speed jumping over logs, bouncing from rock to rock and just when I thought I was about to make it to the parting of trees I slipped on either a rock hidden in leaves or just mud and I fell. I tumbled down a steep hill I didn't see ahead of me, the land just dropped off nearly straight down.
I rolled and took with me thorn bushes, mud and all small creatures great and terrible. While doing barrel rolls, I felt my right knee smash against a hard jagged surface that was most likely another stone, this broke my roll and I slid to a halt on my back. It took a moment before I exhaled “uuuugggghhmmnnn that suucked”. My body was rough, wet, my ears ringing, thorns in various places all over my body, and my knee was on fire. What the shit is happening to me here. Its like I’m recklessly putting myself in harms way but not meaning to, its just my nature (ha) I suppose. I don't know. Maybe I’m trying to discover something new.
I thought, I’m ok right here, I’m not gonna move at the moment. Lets just lay here in the leaves, in the middle of no where and just, be. Close your eyes and just listen, hell take a nap even, there are no plans at this moment, maybe see if you can walk but don't worry about right now, just be. I was numb. heart-numb, mind-numb, soul-numb. And the numbness, I realized, went a long way down like this hill, and there was a long way back.
I want to be alive. Not this half-life limbo nightmare I’m in. I could see spots in half blind vision. Remember, I’m blind in my eye right at the moment from my seizure. I let the darkness in for a moment and the voices came back. What a creeping suspicion, what an incredible isolation I am in, I’m going to outlive everyone I know and I’ll still end up alone, I don't belong here, if a tree were to fall on me, if a black bear were to wander up and crush my chest cavity and my heart, I would let it happen. I’m a walking metaphor for what's happening so why not manifest it into my real life right now? Men kill themselves before 40 78% more than women so why the fuck not? Bring it on nature, I’m all yours.
And just like that, crashing through the woods, a knot of nerves in my throat concerned if I actually summoned my fate, I saw the face of Ms. Doe on the hilltop. Ms. fucking Doe the arch angel herself. “Oh hello there” I said, “don't mind me, I’m just taking a break, how are you?” I couldn't see her body, just head peering down the hill at me upside down. The noon sun sat almost directly behind her head, giving her the most beautiful, warm, soft glow that outlined her perfectly. My eyes widened to capacity. It almost didn’t look like a deer, but some other kind of angelic being. Maybe this was *the* deer who is charge of protecting the wood? Have I encountered the deity of the forest? I was paralyzed with fear and absolute awe. The absolute glory. The total encompassing fear. This was an oil painting come to life.
I snapped back to reality when my knee jolted in pain.
“Oh hey lady. I’m sorry I don't have any more bananas, but I do have some nuts if you want, I just need a second, the tumble took out my leg.” What the SHIT is happening to me. I was there, in the earth for sometime and all the time, Ms. Doe stood atop of the perch, watching. I forced myself up. Covered in leaves, I stood, it fucking hurt to put pressure on my right leg but I forced myself forward and made it to a small trail by the water where birds screamed at each other across the lake and the splash of water against the shore line made music. Well, I made it. I don't care if there's fluid in my knee or a ripped something, I fucking made it. At least I accomplished THIS. I turned around and Ms. Doe was still on the hill top looking at me, I waved and looked to my right and on the ground, in the middle of the trail was my walking stick. It must have gone for a ride with me in another direction or did she knock it down for me? Forever a mystery I limped over to it and gestured the same as Ms. Doe did with her banana.
I looked at it bewildered and looked at her, I picked up my stick stabbed the earth with it a few times and looked at her, I waved, put my hand on heart and said “Thank you”. Ms. Doe took a second and darted off into the wood.
You see what happened here right? A direct line between man and nature, unspoken, kindled, other worldly. Call me crazy but we knew each other for some reason, Ms. Doe and I had some unexplainable moment. Maybe we learned something from each other somewhere between the banana and the hill. Maybe its the things that happen in an instant that immediately change your point of view or circumstance as opposed to it never happening. If Ms. Doe never came, if I never gave her my banana, I wouldn't have walked straight at the fork or fell down the hill and saw her again when I found my stick. I could have gone a different direction entirely.
Call it fate, call it a puzzle, call it justice or trapped by circumstance.
Out of the hundreds of people I know less than 7 people have checked in on me, or even called or anything. It seems people have taken sides for now and I understand that. During my time in the mud, a friend text me asking about my hike and I told her I fell and I’m just laying here in the mud until a bear comes and eats me, I live here now. Our dark humor is top tier but to her this was no laughing matter “send me your location, I’m getting in my car and coming to Maryland right now to help you”. Again, I didn't need the help (or maybe I did) but I don't feel like I deserve it and need to just get through the pain on my own as I’ve always done. But I've learned that does more damage to you down the line in this game, I may be wearing armor but I’m still bleeding underneath it when it comes off. The scars run deep.
She forced me to get up and send my location as soon as I got out of the woods. I set my way back to find the entrance of the trail. I walked on a path that was not really a path, it was a set of right angles and roots, tempting me to fall again but this time into the giant black body of water. Cement shoes with the fishes. I ignored a dozen texts until I stumbled onto a road that was familiar and started to make my way back home. When I looked at my phone the first text I saw read; “This isn't endgame for you, your story is dark and messy and people need the chance to experience it through your eyes, through your writing, your story. its not fair what your being put through and even more unfair how abandoned you are, but please don't give up. I refuse to give up on you or let you give up on yourself, you are too important”. That hit right to the bone.
I called when I got to the road and said id call back when I got home. I stumbled back, wounded knee, filthy, mud soaked, but I made it back, that in itself was an accomplishment. I survived and someone gave a little push to survive with me, that felt like family. I guess family are those who choose to survive with you. Those who say “whatever it takes”. You see whose red and whose blue and you immediately know how outnumbered you are and who actually cares and who actually has fucking hope. My only wish is that we all leave room for hope.
There is good and bad in all things. So, we have to look outside that paradox of redundancy. Walking back on the shoulder of the road, there was a farmhouse on my right with horses running across the yard that seemed to go on forever. I stopped and leaned against the fence, arms swung over the side and watched them run in figure eights for a few minutes. It’s about focus. It’s about being you, but the you that people believe in. The you people want to be with again. It’s about being the concentrated, magnified essence of you. It’s about becoming thunder, or the power of a running horse itself. If I tilted my head just right and squinted, the world outside was beautiful. There was more color.