The End of an Adventure

It is Sunday night, and you have left me sore.

After the laughter and the naked shock of lake thaw turning my skin to goosepimples, after you have left my hair a bedded mess of red, and after three moonless nights with trees tall as cathedral spires, I have spun my key and dropped my pack, a sagging slump at the foot of the bed in a dingy apartment behind a cheap sushi joint and a 7-Eleven in west Los Angeles.

I put on music to soothe the ache. Something chilling and sincere. Fever Ray winds leisurely around my cluttered room as I peel away my walls, my second skin of Merino wool, and my sports bra, caked onto my armpits. “I want to be a forester, run through the moss on high heels…” Karin’s vocal vibrations cut right through my organs. I feel vacant, pungent, grubby. A half-feral beast with bills to pay.

I slink towards the bathroom and busy myself with the shower knobs, tuning them to find the perfect temperature to scald you off of me. Mad with ritual and submerged in spirit, I dip my windblown tangles into the stream, washing the smell of campfire out of my hair. An ant the size of a concord grape spins down the drain like a nauseous child at an amusement park.

As I stare past my breasts, a swirling maze of grit and brown in droplets flutters over my nipples, evidence of our nights together. Pieces of your flesh cling to my porcelain frame. I have come out muddy and broken, your scent thick between my thighs. My eyes lower to a smattering of bruises across my shin from where your boulders kissed me and a thumbprint near my lips where you pulled me close. Nights with you are always intense.

I am ravaged and howling, sinews spent as droplets shatter off my bare shoulders like confetti, my ceremonial watersong nearly complete as I carefully massage lemon-scented soap into my creases.

“A body is such a small and delicate thing, isn’t it?” I find myself asking fuzzy and futile questions about my own mortality as I stop to admire a puffy, rust-colored scab on my right wrist. My fingernails are caked in brown muck. I will never be clean. “I’m going to smell like you for weeks,” I mutter.

With water as my ally, I feel called to unwind the tether of our impossible yo-yo, the weekend warrior lifestyle that leaves me feeling equal parts infinite and hollow. This is my personal gas chamber. My steaming hot closet of eradication.

I am meticulously washing the smell of you from my body in moving meditation. Only then will the plastic constellation of the city become palatable again.

2 thoughts on “The End of an Adventure

    • Emily Pennington (BrazenBackpacker) says:

      Thank you!! I had a profound shower experience after 4 days in Yosemite last week!

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