i’m in a beautiful place, an island with miles of looping forest trails that open to views of the atlantic ocean, feeling guilty for spending the day in bed, craving cinnamon bears from the next room, a room that isn’t mine, a room belonging to my sister if i had a sister, but she doesn’t need another sister because she already has one. her room next door is smaller than mine with only one window while i have two windows, and i feel guilty, also, for my bigger room, except she assured me her room size is perfect because she can reach everything from bed. i have to get out of bed to get anything unless i bring it to bed with me, which means i have two books, a protein bar, my computer, a water bottle, a can of diet coke, and a sweatshirt in bed. i’m prepared to stay in bed all day. i can’t outrun depression, even after traveling 2,000 miles, immersing myself in natural beauty, and surrounding myself with people who would do and give anything to me if i asked. i’ve learned this lesson already. the first time i tried to outrun depression i flew to new zealand. i laid in bed for five days in a rundown motel outside a tiny speck on a map whose downtown consisted of a laundromat, video store (it was the 90’s), unemployment office, and a fast food restaurant with workers who spoke loudly and looked at me suspiciously, so i only ate once in that five days. i stayed in bed with all my clothes on under thin sheets and an electric blanket in an unheated room in the middle of winter until someone rescued me and took me to boiling mud pools which stunk and mimicked something from my nightmares. i was somewhat relieved that the boiling mud i’d dreamed was real and also terrified. my rescuer took a photo of me hanging over the fence, getting too close to the boiling mud that would melt my skin from my skeleton if i fell in. i still have that photo somewhere. i look happy but i was faking. i know how to fake a smile with my eyes as well as my lips.
last night while i was hiking in the rain after sunset i assumed i’d be alone on the trails of this island with only 60 year-round residents. i was wrong. twice, on two different trails that were much darker and wetter and lonelier than either of us should have been hiking, i passed him. the first time i passed him, i startled him. he’s a seasonal worker on the island, a strapping dude in his late 20’s with blonde dreadlocks and sad eyes who is here because he’s running from somewhere or something or someone, which i know not from speaking with him but from the way his eyes flinched when i looked at him. the second time we passed, he wouldn’t look at me, he seemed to expect me, he must have known as well as i which are the darkest deepest trails and that we’d both circle back as the sky darkened and the rain thickened and lightning struck, a challenge to the darkness inside us. seeing him made me want to speak with him, to assure him of something i sometimes believe, that everything will be okay again someday. i don’t know how he felt seeing me. i don’t know how i might have looked to him with my dripping wet hair and shivering arms in my sopping tank top, trying to soak cold wet rain into my bones, adding an icy edge to the numbness of my depression. he wore a sweatshirt to hood his eyes that kept him warm and dry.
a couple months ago i stopped playing a game called “when i grow up i wanna be ______” because i didn’t know if i wanted to live long enough to entertain possibilities of what i might do with my next 50 years. two weeks ago i made myself start playing that game again. my answers are forced, trying too hard to imagine feeling good and being happy and wanting more, but i booked a ticket to paris in september and i’ll be in peru a week and a half from now. until this depression lifts, i’m gonna keep traveling through it. if i need to lie in bed all day, peru and paris have beds waiting for me.