One Muddy Afternoon

A deer tick was crawling on me as our train pulled into Grand Central Station.

The poor guy – he didn’t realize we’d smash him into an old water bottle when he hopped a ride on my sweatshirt. But as there aren’t very many deer in New York City, his death was imminent.

It was 8:22 in the morning when I tossed that tick-invested water bottle into a trashcan, throwing away the last little bit nature from a weekend excursion. We’d traveled an hour or so upstate for a “mud race,” and while I didn’t participate in the actual obstacle course (lack of money; lack of exercise), I was more than willing for a little camping adventure.

That Saturday, my muddy, smelly, and magnificent cohort traipsed through the woods as I snapped pictures of their efforts. Sun-kissed faces and splattered bodies exploded around the campground, while beer was guzzled and (questionable) meat devoured post-race.

As we sat on the side of hill, chasing the sun for any extra intake of its precious rays, I found myself feeling completely comfortable. We didn’t smell fabulous, nor probably look our best, but there was something incredibly peaceful about sitting in grass and being surrounded by enjoyable company.

(Note: I may not be a city gal at heart. Only oceans or stretching mountains "take my breath away," though a good New York rooftop does moderately accomplish the trick. Thus, sitting in grass is one of my favorite pastimes.)

Of course, that was only the beginning of the night. My extroverted side won out in the end, and I found myself playing beer-induced card games late into the evening with a kid who resembled Harry Potter, a dude who breathed like a pug, and two Long “Guy” landers, amongst other characters including my own friends. It wasn’t exactly peaceful, but just as refreshing.

Then dawn came quite quickly, so we packed our tents and called a cab – which apparently is possible anywhere in New York. He drove us to a train that reminded me of the Hogwarts Express, and we sleepily headed back into the city. I reminisced about the sunny hill and late night card games as Harlem approached.

Ah, the city. We escape from you wholeheartedly, yet always come running back for more. Your heat, your opportunity, your endless instability and stimulation… though maybe half the thrill is leaving you, just to see what’s new upon return.

Speaking of our city arrival, it turns out my deer tick friend wasn’t the only nature that wanted to come home with me. As I unpacked my sleeping bag, a creepy crawler waltzed out and into my apartment, earning a sincere squeal of disgust as I shouted, “Why so many legs?!”

(Note:  I may not be a city gal at heart. But doesn't it just fit so well for now? Give me these people and their stories any day -- except maybe on that one muddy Saturday.)