As I type this, I am sitting on an old and creaky chair that my family brought with us when we moved from my birthtown to our current residence. In the void that the reliable printer left when it moved upstairs is my black purse (really a repurposed portable DVD carrier) left half unzipped and with one of the straps twisted the wrong way. It has been more than twenty-four hours since I was Up North, and no ghosts have followed me from the whispering silence of the forest. Their insistence on sucking the emotions and motivation out of me held on like burrs to my socks instead.
We left for the loop at the edge of the world a few hours after I came home from school. I dawdled on my packing as usual until the very last minute- and even then, I still forgot my comb and the bottle of shampoo that I swore I was going to smuggle into the farmhouse where we would be sleeping. There was a bathtub and a shower, yes, but the septic system had always been too weak to handle everybody trying to clean themselves one after another. If everybody can’t shower in this place, nobody gets to.
The regular cabin was still closed for the winter- even though it’s technically spring now, a flurry of snow still shows up in this place from time to time. By the time that we got here, however, they had all melted away, giving way to dead grass desperately trying to regrow for the next season of reluctant visits. Nothing on the property had changed, with the exception of the dead tree standing stripped for everybody who bothered to walk by to see.
The first night there- for we didn’t arrive until late evening- was uneventful as expected. I fully intended to run around the field some, but I also forgot a jacket warm enough to protect my skin from the biting cold of the northern nights. My brothers and I holed up inside the farmhouse with our parents in an adjacent room, and a round of bickering ensued between the brothers as to who was allowed to show the other scenes from the vapid video games that they were playing.
The next morning was hectic as absolutely EVERYTHING from the sleeping area had to be cleaned up so that it didn’t get roughed up by… dogs. Not our dogs, mind you- the puppies that my family has are extremely well-behaved compared to the monsters that came squirming through our front doors. I shouldn’t be complaining right now, as I would rather have to pack up my stuff and throw it into my parent’s room than have a bunch of disgusting creatures such as those belonging to my cousins slobber and shed over them.
These weren’t vagrant dogs off of the street, doomed to a life half-lived under the glow of street lights at night. They belonged to my cousins, fresh off of the road late Saturday morning to come and join us in our pursuit of “camping”. Phoenix, a delightful blend of whites, browns, and blacks, was the most tolerable of the three canines and might have been really cute if she didn’t shed everywhere. Smokey didn’t do much of anything due to their age, and Bamboo, a basset hound, was too busy wreaking havoc on the property to care about gaining anybody’s approval.
My cousins were of a different breed. N never showed up anywhere without bringing at least one piece of electronics with him, his eyes were so glued to the Minecraft blocks and dragon eggs passing along the pixels. R was more attuned to the reality around her, but only when one could peel her eyes away from the recipes dotting the Instagram feed of hers. It didn’t matter much when we had to stay insides during the cold chills and when the adults were working on bringing down the tall stump near the driveway… But after a mighty meal at Doc’s, not even tugging on their wrists and dragging them outside through the flimsy screen door could convince them to walk a few laps around the field.
The introspective path my feet trod upon was the only part of the whole “vacation” that I can honestly say that I wholeheartedly enjoyed. No trees standing erect and fair dared to give shelter to any thoughts of inadequacy. The wind slowly lolled along the landscape, not nearly strong enough to bring chills along my bones. I almost found myself, but then my watch beeped to alert me that my preset workout had ended.
The evening passed by me in a blur of “When are we going home?” and “Why are we taking the dog statue with us?” mixed in with “I understand that you really like “Inside Out” and that it’s one of your favorite movies, but can you please turn it down? It’s giving me a headache.” Home was always a much more peaceful place, if peace could be defined as the state of having less stress caused by impending school work. Sure, the poem that I had to print for English class had already been published by myself throughout the last few days, but what could my mind possibly get more worked up about? Having to send a print order to a parent so that they could use the only functional printer in the house? Or typing up words on a page and hitting the print button? If I knew, these letters could be on print themselves… or perhaps not at all.