Saturday, May 26, 2012

Welcome Home

Last weekend, I went whitewater rafting up just outside of Watertown NY. My twin sister's ex boyfriend invited me to go and I said, shit, sure, why not. I think it was his way of getting at Melody but I didn't care, I just really wanted to go camping. Him and his group picked me up from the Syracuse train station in a rented RV. That should have been my first clue. But this isn't a story about them, it's a story about me. 

Originally, I wasn't going rafting because it was too expensive. We rolled into our campsite just at dusk and I immediately strung up my two hammocks. One of the guys says, you know, you can sleep in the RV. I told him, again, that I WANTED to sleep in my hammock, very badly in fact. I started a fire and we all drank jungle juice. I have nothing in common with them, or so it would seem, but I'm in heaven because I've got my hammock and a fire and the woods and the water, so I'm set. In the morning Matt insists on buying me a seat on their raft, even though I told him I didn't mind not going, though I'd be happy to go. I'm so happy he insisted I went! 

The girls were all nervous, but I wasn't. I wasn't afraid at all, I had no butterflies or anything. I was just excited. I felt like a kid going to an amusement park. And to top it off their was this cute boy who took one of our waterguns and was fuckin around and how could this day not go well? We gear up, hop on a purple bus and off we go. 

I've never had more fun in my life. My muscles burned and the rapids were high, I loved the feeling of riding out this wild ride, watching the rushing water advance. It was exhilarating and mathematical and magical all at the same time. 

When it was over I think I was the happiest I've ever been. I was like rubber and goo, my body so well used by the river. I'm in love. I was high off of it, walking around with all this mysterious energy, I couldn't sit still. And I wanted to see the cute boy again. He had been in the safety boat, a kayak, and was zooming all over the river and it looked like so much fun. Him and our guide ate dinner with us and Matt and I went for a big beer run. Later we had a party at our campsite with a bunch of the guides and guide trainees. In the morning I told Matt I was going to stay and have Kaylee, a guide trainee that I made friends with, take me to my mothers. It was a lie, and I don't really know why I told it. 

I spent the majority of the day walking around, lugging wood and being generally active, mostly because I wanted to feel the ache of my body from rafting the day before. I felt so alive and healthy and happy. I wanted to cry and laugh and bounce and shout to everyone about how amazing I felt and how life changing this experience was for me but there was no one to talk to. I was currently not talking to my sister or my best friend, and all the guides were on the water. But when Chris came back to his camp, there I was in my hammock, strung up between his tent and his amazing garden. 

Later, when we were packing up his truck to leave (he had to be to his weekday job in a town a couple hours away) I desperately did not want to leave. Then when we got into town it was like entering a foreign world, normal people doing normal things, just a few miles away from a place so magical as the camp. I mean magical. These guys that guide, they're all amazing people. The light in all of them is bright, they care, they love, and they are happy. One thing they all have in common, and that's their absolute love for the water. Which is cool by me, cause I do too! The camp is a small maze of trees and grass and tents, tarps, and random decorations. Beer and weed and laughter. I didn't want to leave. 

But I also didn't want to get turned away from my mother's house. She told me, while I'm standing helplessly in the door of Chris' truck, that she's got some bug problem and I couldn't stay there, there was nowhere for me to stay, even. She had thrown out her mattress and slept on the pullout couch. I was devastated. 

There's one thing to say you are homeless, a vagabond, a gypsy... That you carry your home with you, in your heart, and have no stupid ties like rent and furnature. It's a whole other thing when your mother tells you that you can't come home. 

So, my cute boy, he does the only thing there is to do: brings me back to camp. By that time it's night and he has a ways to go. There's no one at camp, and as far as I know the only people staying there is a couple. The rafting is only on weekends still for a few more weeks, so the weekdays are very quiet. When Chris drove away after leaving me at his camp, I felt heartbroken. I felt like an invader to this world I didn't belong, an unwelcomed guest. So I sulked sitting on his deck and drank a beer and smoked cigarettes and did a lot of sulking. Then had another beer and more sulking listening to a group of happy and laughing voices on the other side of camp, who had come back (I assume) from a beer run. Sulk sulk. Then I stood up, paced a lot, trying to get up, what? The courage? To go over and join them. I guess part of me was waiting for someone to fucking come hold my hand and invite me, but I realized how stupid I was being and these people are accepting and open and you already have a fucking invitation so stop being a baby and go over there and have fun! 

So I did. And I explained in short, why I was there. 

This one guy, also named Chris, who's camp we were at, he's got curly blond hair all around his ears, under a cap and he's always smiling and smoking weed, which is exactly what he was doing then. 

He says, "well then... Welcome Home." 



I will hold that moment, that specific feeling of belonging and comradery, in my heart for the rest of my life. 

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