You're alone. Partially because you're in a different city and don't know anyone there, but partially because lately, you just want to be alone, and alone is what you are. There are people walking past you. For the most part, they don't notice you. You kick the dirt and see that your shoes are filthy. You bought these $10 shoes before you left on your trip for this very reason. I need a pair of get dirty shoes, adventure shoes, and so you bought them and now you're walking down this dirt trail. It's 93 degrees out, your back is drenched with sweat where your backpack rubs against it, your shorts feel too hot and like I said, your shoes are filthy. You want to take off your shirt but you can't, you're female. You argue with yourself as to why you didn't wear your bathing suit and why you chose the ugliest nude coloured bra in your suitcase. You should've worn that navy blue one. It doesn't look like a bathing suit, but at least it's not the ugly nude coloured one you're wearing. And so you walk on.
You walk down to the river. Everyone says the water is too cold, but it's 93 degrees out and you're sweating. It's the perfect mix of water, mud and seaweed, which isn't so perfect, but right now you don't care. The water is aqua and milky. You take off your shoes but keep your backpack on. There are two young kids watching you like a hawk, well actually, there are two young kids watching your backpack like a hawk. And so you take off your shoes, leave them on the shore and step into the river with your backpack still on. You walk into the middle of the river, up until the water reaches your thighs. There's next to no current. You look up–trees; you look down–water. You see your toes. They are painted the colour of strawberries, but if you're a dude, fine, they can be naked, or red, whatever you'd like. Same goes with the bra explanation above. What matters is that you're standing in this aqua, milky river looking up and down. The leaves on the trees are the greenest green, the beautiful ones you've read about in some classic novel. It's relatively quiet out. There are sounds, yes, faint sounds of children running into the water, men and women flirting, laughing, whatever men and women do. But the sounds are faint and quiet because you are inside of your head. You're present.
You exit the river and put your filthy shoes back on. You walk down the same dirt path until you come to a small shack surrounded by canoes and kayaks. I'd like a canoe, please. Just myself. She takes your drivers license, you fill out some papers, she gives you a life jacket, you grab a paddle (the wrong paddle, you'll later discover). You drag the canoe into the water and you're off. You're off! You're canoeing down the river. The water is still milky, aqua, but now sometimes green. The wind is in your favour. Remember when I said you'd discover you grabbed the wrong paddle? Well, you've just discovered that you grabbed the wrong paddle. You grabbed a single blade paddle, not a double blade, and so you awkwardly paddle your canoe in a not so straight line. Oh, there are turtles in the water below you, and on the logs poking out of the water. They are big. Some have shells like a watermelon, others have shells like a small football. You take as many photos as you possibly can, and then you put your camera back into your backpack, you put the paddle into the boat and you sit there. You wait. You look around. There's random people hidden amongst the tall grass lining the shore, drinking, because that's what people do when hiding in tall grass lining a shore.
You feel something hit you on the head. There it is again. And again. And again something hits you on the head, and this time the shoulder, your nose, your eyelashes. You look up and the rain comes faster than you thought possible. Where you grew up, only hail ever fell that big, but this isn't hail, they're raindrops the size of golfballs. Rain, rain, rain. You pick up the paddle, turn your canoe and start paddling back. This time the wind is not in your favour, and the raindrops rain down like pellets, faster and faster. You can't look up because the rain is so hard and thick and so you look down and see that the canoe is filling with water, and your backpack is getting wet, too. You pick it up and hold it between your knees, it's your camera you're really concerned about. You can't balance your backpack and look up and paddle against the wind all at the same time, and so you stretch out your t-shirt and shove your backpack underneath of it, against your chest. You hunch over to protect it like it's the only thing that matters, which in some ways, your camera is the only thing that matters, and you paddle on. You paddle on as thousands upon thousands of raindrops surround your every move, your every thought.
You are soaking wet.
You lift your face into the sky. You keep your eyes closed. You smell the fresh rain air and feel it wash the makeup off your skin, your eyes now racoon like. The water trickles down your arm like a mountain glacier. It's a maze of water being led down by gravity, down into the boat, down into your filthy shoes. You are warm, the air is hot and humid. The water in the bottom of the canoe splashes back and forth, up your leg, onto your already wet clothing. You can't help but laugh. You laugh some more. You taste the rain and some of the salty sweat streaming down your face. Your hair locks together in clumps, your arms are now tired. You remain hunched over to protect your backpack, protect your camera, but you don't feel tight and hunched over, you feel quiet the opposite. You feel like the raindrops do when they find the river water.
You feel at home.