I step out of the house and the severe, biting cold hasn’t hit me yet.
I hear a voice yell, “Bus,” to my left and I see the yellow boat careening up the road.
I look over my shoulder to find the source of this noise.
A boy, maybe fourteen, in jeans and a hoodie, is running out of his house.
He looks back at the door, nervously, and yells, “BUS!”
This time, with an unmistakeable trill of familiarity and fear.
An older boy comes racing after him in shorts and a t-shirt
and a girl in jeans and a flannel follows on his heels.
I look down at myself, dressed in sweatpants, a large down jacket, scarf and beanie.
What they can’t see is hiding beneath:
wool socks, tights, a t-shirt and a sweater.
As I walk down the street,
now feeling like the Michelin Man,
I giggle to myself, “kids…”.
I take a right at the bottom of the street.
I spot a game trail just beyond the dead end with a sign that reads “No Motor Vehicles”.
As I walk through the neighborhood corridor of backyards,
spacious and fenceless,
I ask myself if I am allowed to be here.
If someone sees me, will they know I’m an outsider?
Will they know I don’t belong?
I don’t own a home here.
I’m not even paying for the AirB&B.
In my mind, people only deserve to hold space if they can pay for their place.
Where did this idea come from….?
I return to my pace, my breath, my frozen face.
In this world, in this body, on this trail.
What a beautiful experience of being here.
Of all places, I am here.
Sandwiched between two homes,
and countless lives.
And here I am, walking on this thin path speckled with lemon and lime-sized stones.
I turn another corner and come to a forested expanse of sporadically placed deciduous and coniferous friends.
At the last house to my right, a dog barks desperately.
He stands at the sliding glass door, begging to get in,
warm and included.
I exit the embrace of others’ homes.
I suddenly feel completely alone.
I raise my eyes to the glow of the sun cresting the horizon.
The forty-foot trees are greeted by the sun just at their peak.
I picture the moment, not long from now, when that very light touches my own crown.
My nose squeals with excitement.
The land takes a dip down to an old dirt road.
I allow the trail to guide my steps off and to the right.
I hear the birds here.
Their peeps sound faint,
not from volume or body but distance away.
I squint to the tops of the trees, now sixty feet from me.
I imagine those chipper little peepers bathing in the warm morning rays,
up there, in peace.
It feels colder down here.
Moist and contained.
The front of my thigh tells me I’m cold.
I pay closer attention to the sensation which precipitated the thought.
My thigh, it feels tight.
I can feel it drawing in. Or stretching out.
The vibration is minimal, yet palpable.
I ask blood to travel there,
to my thigh.
To juice it up.
To bring back the life.
My lip feels numb.
Like I’ve been given a shot of Novocain.
I check to see if I’m drooling.
My hand, along it’s trajectory, grazes my chin.
I realize it is still there: my chin.
It’s numb and burning, simultaneously.
What a strange experience: how cold can burn so differently than fire.
My friend says she likes to feel slightly cold;
it reminds her that she is alive.
Requires her system to rev it’s engine.
I return to the top of the hill.
I search for the sun; a little treat.
I find a spot near a tree and I turn.
Angels sing in my mental choir.
Sunlight hits my eyes.
I close my lids tight.
Water squeezes out and I smile.