Mile 265 of Lower Mississippi at St. Francisville – December 6, 2012
Wind. Rain. Sand. Dirt. Grit. It all soaked me last night. It covered me. It found its way onto everything that touched my skin. The tent, the sleeping bag, my clothes. I went to sleep too tired to do anything, too exhausted for the simplest task. I didn’t eat because the hatch with food felt too far away from the door of my tent, the act of pouring fuel and striking a lighter beyond my will. I lay there looking at the hatch, waiting to lose consciousness.
You world breaks apart sometimes. It happens so fast, like a light switch flipping off and you just want to be clean, to touch something that doesn’t feel like wet sandpaper, to sit in a chair. The grime along the rim of your water jug, the mud on your feet, the wet fabric of your rain-soaked shirt, it buries you and you can’t escape, you can’t just walk home and take a shower, you can’t lay on the couch and turn on the TV. You are out in it. That’s why I lay and waited to sleep, waited for my mind to disappear, because it was the only way out. The only refuge I could take.
This morning stole all my will, all my ability to cope with grit-covered equipment, but I knew if I could just make it to St. Francisville, Louisiana, if I could just manage thirty-six miles, there would be a boat ramp and Will and Allie were there, connected to me by degrees of friends and family, waiting to catch me as I crashed, waiting to let me piece back my will that one bad night yanked from underneath me before I even realized I needed to hold on.
Allie drove up to the boat ramp, we strapped the kayak on Will’s car, and I felt silly about it all, but it’s easy to feel silly when you know you’ll wash away the day under a hot shower and close your eyes inside four sturdy walls.