Friday, September 18, 2009

The other side

In my last post, I wrote about the world being as big or as small as I wanted it to be, being fearless and exploring on foot or on bike as a kid.

There's another side to this story, of course, and I was reminded of it today when out on a walk. I was probably around 13, and my best friend and I had somehow decided it was a good idea to explore the area around Fitzgerald Lake, a large conservation area in our hometown (you can see it here). It's a big space for a couple of kids to venture into, unsupervised. No maps, no compasses, no water, no cell phones (cell whats?), nothing but the shorts and t-shirts we wore and the bikes we had chained up who-knows-where.

We quickly were in over our heads, having turned ourselves around a few times and bushwhacked in what we thought was the right direction. Hours went by, the two of us lost in a wilderness of unknown size, in hot and humid summer weather. I remember being insanely thirsty, and being terrified of drinking stagnant pond water. We bravely soldiered on. I remember at one point, as we cut through a meadow, offering to take the lead. We swapped places, and I every step I took was slicing my legs on the sharp-edged grass that filled the meadow. I realized he had been silently bearing this pain for who-knows-how-long, and I could hardly handle a minute of it.

We chased phantom sounds, we walked in circles, we did our best to reassure each other that we would find our way home before dark.

And we did, eventually. We staggered out into a neighborhood, walked right over to someone's house, and drank our fill out of their hose. We then knocked on their door and asked to use their phone, calling our parents to reassure them we were okay. We found our bikes and made our way back to a corner store, where we bought root beer, before going home and probably (I don't remember) getting in trouble.

I remembered this story because today I was walking near work and said, "I wonder where this trail goes." I followed it for 10 minutes and turned around, realizing my lunchtime walk would turn into an afternoon walk if I stayed on it any longer. And somehow I took a wrong turn and ended up on a different trail. I got out fine, and I was never more than a couple minutes from my workplace, but for that brief moment I remembered the feeling of terror, two kids just about to enter adolescence and fearing for our lives as the sun started sinking in an unfamiliar wilderness.

Status update: 25 pounds down! Week 4 of Couch-to-5K complete. Still trying to make sure I eat enough, still scared of eating junk food.

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