Monongahela National Forest, 4/13/2019

I got lost looking for a new way off Spruce Mountain. I drove along Gandy Creek for awhile. I ignored the pain in my hips and back because I had just said I was better and I didn’t want to think about what that pain means for me. What does it mean for me? I have an appointment this afternoon to find out.

I will probably go hiking again this weekend anyway. It’s my birthday – I’ll be 32 – and the pain in my hips isn’t more important than that.

When I got home from the mountains, I rented The Predator, which is a terrible movie; a terrible movie in almost the same way that Deep Blue Sea and The Core are terrible movies, and those are certainly two of my favorite movies. They are awful, but I’m glad they were made.

It’s Monday again, isn’t it?

Walking.

I’ve been in a lot of pain lately. So much that it’s been hard to walk, to sit, to be in a car, to do anything but recline gently on my uncomfortable couch.

I had surgery almost two weeks ago. Almost immediately I felt things clear up. It was a joke, actually, because while the day of and the day immediately after seemed fine, I spent the following day trying not to throw up and ate, maybe, 11 saltine crackers all day.

But then I felt better.

So I went for a wander in the patch of woods I’ll be moving back to once there is something to live in.

And I went for a walk at the river where I live now.

It is remarkable, really, how much can change once a doctor is convinced to scrape the scar tissue and bleeding growths from your abdomen. I feel good now, despite the holes the disease has eaten through my peritoneum.

For a few weeks I was making some bad decisions despite knowing how they turn out. How they always turn out. I made myself sicker, put myself in positions to be hurt – because I wanted to feel nothing, or I wanted to feel a pain I could name.

And then: relative health again, and I can walk without discomfort, and I can be in the woods and not feel shadowed by the knowledge that things are bad – that bad is inevitable. It is the default.

It’s not. Not always. Or… it doesn’t need to be.

Eureka.

We buried my grandfather’s ashes yesterday, two months exactly from the day he died, in the small cemetery up the street from the lot where my grandparents’ house used to stand and just down the railroad tracks from the house I grew up in, in a plot that was, years ago, part of their neighbors’ front yard. I used to play in that cemetery sometimes – the kids who lived near my grandparents and I ducking behind headstones, pretending we were Power Rangers (we always pretended we were Power Rangers), or sledding down the hill at the cemetery’s edge, toward the backwater swamp that separated my grandparents’ small neighborhood from my own, upriver.

The last time I was there, the old church was  being torn down. They’d sold the stained glass windows, and I climbed through the open frame left behind to find the church’s one room filled with toppled pews and waterlogged hymnals, and, inexplicably, a microwave and television.

I took a hymnal with me and when I got home I realized it was full of silverfish.