Once upon a time, a very long time ago, there was a young girl who decided to go on a hike. And she decided she would invite every girl she loved to come along. Spoiler: It was me. It was the very last time I went on a hike. It was eighteen years ago. I was eighteen. Wow! Look at those numbers. Maybe I should get out more.
I have a wonderful aunt, Auntie M. When I was a child she would take me on a hike every year. I had done it since I was little. How hard could it be?
Here are the things I did not take into consideration:
1. I never had to pack our food or water as a child. Doesn’t it just magically appear in your bag? Because that’s right… I
conned talked eighteen girls into going on a six mile hike with me. And we only packed about ten water bottles. We did bring watermelon. Lots of watermelon. I have no idea why.
2. I am allergic to watermelon.
3. I planned this hike in the middle of July. In the dessert.
4. We told no one where we were going.
5. We had no cell phones. Because they did not exist. Kind of like my brain at the time.
6. We had four cars between us. We somehow crammed ourselves into two and left them at the end of the hike.
7. None of these girls were friends. They were my friends. But they were not friends with each other. Okay. Some of them were. But we had the goth girls, the stoners, a cheerleader or two, the soccer champion, the brainiacs, and me. It was like “The Breakfast Club” without breakfast or a club. Without the comforts of a bathroom or a cool janitor. If those guys in the Breakfast Club would have been dumped in the middle of nowhere without water for five hours in the heat of summer. Well, let’s just say Anthony Michael Hall wouldn’t have had an essay to write. ‘Cause they would have eaten him.
We started out on the hike cheerful and in good spirits. Half of us were leaving for college in a few weeks. It was our last hurrah.
I plan fun things.
It began to turn sour about halfway through the hike…When we realized we were out of water. It was not pretty. The goths were more quiet than usual. I knew it was just a matter of moments before they realized this was all my
But then something miraculous happened. We came upon a stream and a little small, I do not want to call it a lake, because it was about the size of my living room, but beautiful body of water. It was shady. It was like a mirage. But it wasn’t. We stopped and we splashed. We chatted. We connected in a way that only those in the most dire of circumstances can.
Sometimes I dream about this “lake.” It can be a lovely dream or a bloody nightmare. In the dream, I build a little house here and it is a beautiful and tranquil experience. In my nightmares, the lake gets bigger and is filled with great white sharks that inevitably eat me (I think I am one of the few people who actually die in their dreams. My mind loves me like that).
We left the lake and trudged along. I barely remember us getting to the cars. We were all sweaty and dehydrated. We were all cranky and miserable. The lake had renewed our spirits for a moment, but human nature quickly took over as we crawled towards the finish line.
At the end, one girl turned to me and said, “Thanks Jenni. That was the worst experience of my life.”
I aim to please.
I never did see all of those girls together again. Over the years, we all drifted away. I did reconnect with some of them on Facebook when I had an account. But in my imagination, life had turned out differently for them. I liked my dream version better. I wanted that magical lake of life in the middle of nowhere to always be there. The weariness of life to not have drained it away.
I have mixed emotions and memories of that hike. I do not regret it, but I did learn…
“In the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions”…
We found out that each one of us is…
A basket case (guess which one this was)
And a criminal.”
In need of water.