The Inner Voices
As the day grew nearer, I began to experience some very familiar sensations and thoughts. Questions began to pop into my head in the most unexpected times and places.
“Are you sure?”
“What if you need something or someone?”
“You don’t know who else is going to be around…if anyone.”
“You’ll be a woman alone. You will be vulnerable.”
Fortunately I have come to recognize all those inner voices as my brain’s way of working through the anxiety of doing something new. I had planned for this getaway and looked forward to what it might reveal. I have traveled alone many times, and have come to enjoy being by myself in public places. I can absorb the environment without care or concern for someone else. It is very freeing. This felt different; I was going to be alone in the woods. There are just too many movies about the bad stuff that can happen to a woman alone in the woods for me to enter unguarded. So I took Maggie with me. At least I knew that no one would sneak up on me with her around. She is my emergency alert system.
You Are Not Alone
As is normally the case, my fears were unfounded and I was in good company. There are forty six cabins on this property but because of how they are arranged, and the sanctity of quiet, it is hard to know there are other people a few feet away. I had the benefits of seclusion with the knowledge that help, should I need it, is a phone call away. Each cabin is equipped with a red phone through which visitors can contact someone for help. As I type this I wish I were back there right now. I can still see and feel everything.
After unpacking, storing my food and feeding Maggie, we went on our first walk. It was Wednesday. Middle of the week and just a smattering of campers were spending their hump day in the woods. The smell of camp fires filled the fall air making the whole experience complete. I knew I would not trust myself to build a fire, so enjoying the aroma of my neighbors was as close as I would come. I inhaled deeply and kept walking.
Throughout the trip I chose to take no pictures on my walks. I was determined to really see and experience what was in front of me without trying to capture an image. The image now lives in my head. As I walked I allowed my thoughts to become a descriptive narrative of what I was seeing and feeling. It is an amazing game to play to try and describe with words the magnificence of nature. Words, like images, can never do justice to the reality.
Darkness comes early in the forest. Forest darkness is not like suburban darkness. This is the ‘can’t see my hand in front of my face’ darkness. Maggie and I retreated inside as the day had been warm and the mosquitoes were coming out for a snack; I, too, was getting hungry.
Having cooked my food at home I just had to heat and eat. I opened my bottle of wine, warmed my food and sat in bed to eat. What a delicious way to live.
Did I say there is no television nor WiFi in these cabins? The goal is to disconnect. I took this seriously. I left my iPad at home. I did not download anything to watch. I had music, but even that seemed out of place. Rather, I chose the silence of solitude.
Once dinner was consumed and the dishes done, I settled in to read. I brought my Kindle because I knew I could read in little to no light with it and the e-ink system allows me to feel as though I was not breaking the no technology code I had set for myself.
In this degree of quiet, every single thing makes a sound. The breeze floating through the trees caused something, possibly a pine cone, to drop onto the roof of the cabin. I jumped. What was out there? Maggie didn’t react so I assumed it was nothing. I continued to read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open a moment longer.
Time For Sleep
I never sleep well the first night in a new place. This was no exception. I moved in and out of consciousness vaguely aware of my surroundings when I heard a rustling sound. I didn’t have to freeze as I was already still. I kept listening and wondering what in the world was making that noise. It was coming from inside the cabin and very close to where we were laying. Once again, Maggie did not react so it couldn’t be too serious, and yet the curiosity was causing my imagination to create some version of the Graboids from Tremors. Was it possible that a worm like creature with gnashing teeth had hidden in the cabin just waiting for the opportune time to attack? I summoned what little bravery I possess I turned on the flashlight on my phone to investigate.
At first I didn’t see anything unusual. I looked on the bed platform near the window where I discovered, not quite a Graboid, but nearly as disgusting, a two inch flying roach. The rustling sound had come from it crawling around, under or through a pile of plastic grocery bags I had put on the side of the platform. I am in the woods surrounded by pine trees; I was not surprised by my visitor. I lived in Texas long enough to know where it came from and that it was no more enamored of me than I was of it.
Weighing all options, I knew the roach was not going to eat me alive or inject me with venom, I turned out the light to try and sleep. I would deal with it in the morning. However, as soon as I closed my eyes I envisioned it crawling across my face during the night. I either had to get rid of it or stay up all night. I chose annihilation.
This time, when I turned on my flashlight, it had crawled up the corner of the walls. I waited. Soon it moved onto the window shade; my opportunity had arrived. I rolled up some papers and slowly moved toward the window. I didn’t want to scare it back into the corner. I took aim and gave it everything I had. Whack! The sound of the paper hitting the blind caused Maggie to jump from the bed in fear for her life. I think I may have closed my eyes because when I looked the roach was gone. I looked between the bed and the wall. No roach. No roach anywhere I could see. I must have just stunned it and I hoped that was enough to keep it far away from me for the rest of the night.
Holding my phone close I finally fell asleep. When we woke the next morning I looked in Maggie’s water bowl, and there floating motionless, was the roach invader. Maggie looked at it then at me. I think she wanted a drink but wasn’t going near this creature. I carefully picked up the bowl and dumped it outside the door and filled it with fresh water. Now it was time for coffee and breakfast. A beautiful new day was waiting to be discovered.
After spending so long at home it is easy to become anxious of everything beyond the front door. I don’t work. I leave home to go to the grocery store and out to eat once a week. I love being home but there is a side effect to my lifestyle mixed with my natural introverted socially anxious nature; my world has become very small. This adventure reminded me of truths I used to know and live by; I am capable to do most anything I set my mind to doing. I can go into the world, try new things and face my anxieties head on and emerge a better version of myself.
I need to do this more often. Take a couple of days and just go somewhere and have new experiences. I think I should go to public places as well; find ways to be around more people then retreat back home where I am always safe and secure.