Fluidity

I was camping last week in the glorious San Juan Islands and realized I wouldn’t be able to finish my regular Free Write Friday post since I was, blessedly, without any WiFi connection or phone reception for several days. Our family returned late Sunday night and, after four days of swimming, kayaking, exploring and sitting around the campfire, I also realized that mountains of laundry and back-to-school prep would take precedence over my usual Narrative Medicine Monday post. So I’m letting these goals lapse, like my hope to read any of my book club book (The Glass Castle, in case you were wondering) this past weekend. 

I’m approaching a year of blogging and initially chose a biweekly schedule of narrative medicine and free write posts somewhat arbitrarily, knowing that it would keep me accountable to have a set schedule. It’s been good for my writing and my overall well-being to write regularly and press publish even when my work isn’t completely polished. At this juncture, I’m giving myself a pass to forego a post here and there when on vacation or at a conference or finishing another piece of work. 

This fall I’ve signed up to take a poetry course and I’m actively pursuing a home for my nonfiction book. Blogging has been a salve, a selfish pursuit of craft and vulnerability. I’m not looking to give it up, but I am ready to give it more fluidity. 

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Free Write Friday: Camping


We move by the light of the skies. Time untethered to seconds, minutes, hours. 

Shadows cast onto nylon tents, faded grays and greens meant to blend into earthy surroundings. Toothpicks of trees stretch heavenward, branches and bark punctuating a pale sky. Bikes laid flat on their sides, like fallen dominoes, line the campsite. Brightly colored helmets are scattered asunder. 

They grab their bikes and pump legs up the hill to the playground nestled in the trees. They twirl and slide, climb and spin, dust rising underfoot. Teeth bared, faces upturned with glee, taut with playful exertion.

They return to home base, tumble in the dust, twist in the hammock, balance on the yellow slack line situated between two sturdy tree trunks. Footprints of sneakers and toddler Crocs pepper the campsite. Dirty feet, caked with dust, the reminder of an earth long forgotten by more bourgeois days spent indoors: at school, at work, at homes walled off from such grime. Here, we can’t get our feet clean, no matter a 3 minute token shower, no matter a towel wiping down, no matter a dip in the cold ringing canal, uneven stones and oyster shells underfoot. Still the dark mark of filth between toes marks us. 

Down at the water they zig-zag across the rocky beach, search for colorful stones, treasures of abandoned sea creature skeletons, slimy seaweed. Our backs align straight in the kayak as we glide through the seafoam green toward the hazy hills beyond. A little one dips an appendage or two in the water, leaning from the front unexpectedly as I struggle to stay balanced and centered on the stand up paddle board. 

A burn ban has a dampening effect; we gather around the citronella candle as the skylight fades, skin graying to ashen. Headlamps alight, artificial and glaring. Canvas camp chairs unfold around the would-be campfire. It’s too dark and we succumb to the arc of the heavenly bodies, one seceding as the other takes reign in the sky. 

Camping is a children’s glory: timetable discarded, dirt embraced, leisure activities and food prevail unencumbered. They chase each other through the brambles, swing gleeful in the hammock, unearth large stones to discover tiny crabs frittering sideways, eager to find a new hiding place. Grime accumulates under their fingernails like dust clinging to the mantle at home. It marks them unconcerned, free from the shackles of the modern urban childhood of after school activities and rationed screen time. 

We wake to birds rustling, charcoal light reversing gray to green to sky. I arise despite myself, soak in the soreness of my bones. The light, the earthen air call me to get up, get out, move myself into the surroundings I was meant to inhabit.

We move by the light of the skies. Time untethered to seconds, minutes, hours. 

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