This is my first time at Riverview Natural Area. It is like a neglected patch of woods behind someone’s house—growing over with ivy, crisscrossed with ill-planned trails. I expect to see a few tree-houses or forts but they’re absent. At least the city took the time to number the trails and mark them with laminated paper stapled to stakes.
I feel like a neglected patch of woods myself these days, overgrown with the desire to not feel my own reality after heartlessly severing a six-year friendship because it housed an on-and-off romance that kept me from getting on with life.
It’s nice to be out under the trees even if everything seems unremarkable in the light of my mood. I cross a log so wide I sit on it and swing my legs over. I stand up to find a big, wet spot of fresh bird poop on my camel-colored corduroy skirt. This would normally be funny. A bird-lover is eventually going to meet with bird excrement. But it’s squishy and I feel oddly embarrassed about walking the trails and riding my bike home with a poop spot on my skirt, as if people will know and assume it’s my own.
I pour most of my water bottle out while trying to rub the debris out of the soft ribbing in my skirt and then keep walking, unconcerned that I might now look like I peed myself.
The trail starts to head steeply downward toward Macadam and I consider that I just rode my bike up this same slope through the cemetery, that I had to rest a few times along the way and that I may not be happy arriving at the bottom to have to climb all the way back up again.
I turn around, resigned to an unadventurous walk getting up-to-date on my requisite encounters with bird poop. Doing the best I can to reckon with the edges of emptiness around a pain in my heart that will slowly fade in the recognition that the hardest way isn’t always the most noble.