Throughout my life, I’ve fancied myself to be that girl who’s sweet on the outside, but tough and independent to the core. Adamantium bones, diamond hard teeth, and a gaze that can cut like a laser.
Well, last weekend I went on a little adventure. Camping. It went quite well. My tent didn’t fly away. I didn’t run out of food or water. There were some steep inclines and chasms, but I navigated all those without incident. I even delighted when I spotted the skull. It was in a protected wash. Besides ours, there weren’t many footprints. We stepped over rocky ledge and nestled just there, between the hard of rock and soft of sand, was a dainty bleached out skull. Frayed fibers peeled away from the eye sockets. I was down on my knees and elbows when the other parts were found. “Here’s a leg!” “Here’s a spine!!”
I clicked away and scrambled over to the next site. The legs were 3-4 feet apart. One hind leg, and this fore leg. I’ve seen bone fragments on hikes, skulls in museums, but nothing like this. This was so… real. I mean, look at this leg. There’s still fur on it. Soft and silky, it shags along the shaft of the bone on down until it reaches that little hoof.
The spine. Was. Amazing. It was tucked away inside a crevice, shaded from the elements. It was easy to imagine a coyote, or mountain lion taking a midday meal here, gnawing lazily on the ribs.
The rest of the day and into the night I was groovin’ on this find. It was, for me, like the discovery of a treasure. And then came bedtime. Apparently I had been feeling anti-social when I set up my tent far away from everyone else’s, in a little alcove nestled against a hill of dried mud and between two bushes. Even after drugging myself, I laid in my sleeping bag, wide awake. I tried to rationalize away the sounds. That rustling was just the wind rubbing the rainfly rubbing the tent. And that trickling sound was just pebbles rolling down the hillside… after being dislodged by the mountain lion stalking me! Not to mention the desert rats pacing outside my tent, dying to nibble on my deodorant and coyotes waiting to steal my Nalgene bottles.
It took a lot of convincing to get up in the dark dangerous hours of the early morning to empty my bladder. Of course I examined the area around my tent, scanned the landscape for the eery reflection of predatory eyes. What did I find? A big fat nothing. I lost a night of sleep to the wind and my ridiculous overactive imagination (fitting, I know). I also lost that illusion I’d built of myself. No, I’m not Wolverine’s long lost sister.
With all this loss, it is important to remember that I did actually gain something. Self-knowledge, and more than that, acceptance.