It's a surreal feeling. I can't get over it. My tummy still churns. Dehydration is the culprit there. And fear. My brain can't wrap herself around what happened today.
I'll take you there.
Let's go, shall we?
It is 7a.m. My husband nudges me.
"Honey, wake up. It will be too hot to run if you stay in bed too long."
"Uh ugh. I don't wanna get up. I just don't wanna," I say burying my head under my pillow. "It's SATURDAY! It's stupid to get up early and go run on a SATURDAY!"
He chuckles. He knows this is how I do. I'm a professional sleeper. Grumpy every morning without fail.
I get up. Get dressed. Throw on a hat. Kiss the hubby and two little ones good-bye. (The two older ones are still sound asleep. I'm happy for them. Sleeping can be such a happy time. I covet their sleeping. They are a tween/teen combo. Sleeping is their JOB.)
I grab a water bottle and piece of toast and hop in my car.
My car is named Lola. She takes me to Catalina State Park.
I've never been to Catalina State Park before.
I want to run. And I don't want to run on the stupid dumb boring old road or the stupid dumb boring old treadmill.
I want to run on a trail with rocks and trees and the threat of snakes and perverts in the bushes. So exciting.
I pay $7 to park my car. I snarl involuntarily as a kind elderly woman takes my hard earned $7 from my sweaty fist.
I leave Lola at the trail head parking lot. I'm about to take my cell phone with me. But think better of it. I should be free to run a measly eight miles without a leash, right? The phone is awkward and doesn't fit in my sports bra as well as my car key and Chapstick do. I would look pretty silly with a large-ish rectangle protruding from my brassiere.
No phone it is.
I grab my 33.8 fl oz bottle of Dasani and get runnin'.
I think of Robert Frost and take a left onto the Sutherland Trail. The road less traveled, ya know. I mean, I don't actually KNOW if it's less traveled or not but it seems like maybe so. Plus, I'm left handed. So... left I go...
The running feels good. I've been hurt and angry about something/someone recently. My feet pound the soft sand. I jog through a wash with cold, flowing water. My smile in spite of myself.
I let myself be angry at the injustices in life against me. I imagine all the things I will say to the people who have offended.
In my mind my rapier tongue and indisputable logic stops the offender in his/her tracks.
Sweat is dripping down my face and into my eyes. I keep running. Jumping over rocks. Listening carefully for the tale tell rattle of a serpent.
If a snake bites me I will take a sharp rock and gash my flesh. Then I will suck out the venom..., I think.
It would be awful if a snake bit my face though. What if it bit my leg and I toppled to the ground? And then while I was on the ground he bit my face?! ...Why, I believe I could handle a snake bite to the leg but... man... I would be REALLY upset if he struck my face.
I imagine the scene in detail for good measure. It's gruesome. And no one hears my calls for help. But I drag my poisoned body back to civilization (for now I am in the middle of the desert and have seen no people for an hour)... I would drag myself back to civilization and I would be famous. I would be on the NEWS!
I think some more about the snake scenario.
What if I died out here?
Would the persons hurting my feelings and disrespecting me at the moment even care?
Would all the people who were ever unkind or judgemental of me cry and beg God for forgiveness?
Yes. I believe they would.
I feel smug.
Just like in Tom Sawyer. Everyone thought he was dead and they were so sorry and all crying and carrying on about what a good boy he had been and how sorry they were for having licked him with a switch.
I'm betting if I died in the middle of the desert everyone who has ever licked me with a proverbial switch would be good and sorry. They would never forgive themselves. I'm glad of that. They should have been nice when I was alive. And now it's plum (or maybe plumb?) too late.
I come to a rusty barbed wire fence that reminds in faded lettering me to keep the gate closed so the cows don't escape.
My Garmin fancy watch says I've run for almost five miles. Oopsie. I meant to run four and turn around. It is taking much longer to run this trail than I thought. It is rocky and steep in parts. I trip a few times.
I turn around now. I'm running out of water. I'd better get home.
I run and I'm still fired up.
Would people come to my funeral? How many?
Who would cry openly? I hope the undertaker gives me a mani. My nails are a MESS!
I'm running and running and running. There are various trails. I don't think about it much. I just pick one and keep going. I'm sure they all go to the trail head.
I run for a few miles and stop.
I don't recognize any of my surroundings.
Maybe I just wasn't paying attention when I was planning my own funeral. Maybe I did pass that dry wash... with no water...
I jog slowly now. My clothes are drenched in sweat. It's supposed to be at least 100 degrees today.
There are no human footprints on the trail before me.
I distinctly remember human footprints on the way up.
Now all I see are deer tracks.
I've stopped planning my funeral.
My heart sinks.
I say this out loud. A butterfly lights on a purple flower.
I have no earthly clue where I am. I stop running.
I'm walking slowly now. I walk for 45 minutes. I don't know what to do.
I recognize nothing.
I have seen no one for hours. It's almost noon. I'm out of water.
I remember the scripture about people going off on strange roads.
Being lost on a strange road is a horrible, helpless feeling. How did I get here? How do I get home?
I finally sit under a tree with my empty water bottle.
I am tempted to cry. But I am feeling light headed and sick to stomach. I refuse to dehydrate my battered body any further.
I'm really worried for my safety now. I'm terribly afraid and dizzy.
So I pray.
Please help me to know what to do.
The response is simple.
Stay where you are.
I feel helpless but heed the prompting.
I wonder how long it will be before my husband comes to look for me. I wonder how long it will be before they send out forest dudes and helicopters.
What if the helicopters can't see me under this tree?
People die in the desert heat all the time.
This summer there were several deaths in Tucson. Hikers. In the middle of the desert. Like me. I'm in the middle of the desert. With no water.
I feel numb.
Stay where you are.
I stay under the tree.
Literally five minutes later a young man in head to toe camo comes walking over the hill before me. He carries a bow and a backpack.
"I'm lost," I say aloud to the young man.
But now I'm found, I think.
P.S. I didn't really think the "now I'm found" part. That's a lie. I wish I had. It would have been cool if I could be honest about that part. So, that particular thought is a lie. But the rest is true. Hope to die dead.
P.S.S. I don't ACTUALLY hope to die dead. That's just what my Pops says when he's telling a true story. He always ends in "hope to die dead." It's a southern thing.
P.P.S.S. The young man in camo had been hunting since 4a.m. He informed me I was "a long way off in the wrong direction". He offered me water and walked me to his truck, which was also "a long way off".
He also let me know it was a fluke that he was hunting today. He almost didn't go because his hunting buddy drank too much last night and didn't get up this morning.
Something bad really could have happened to me. I'm eternally grateful for a prayer answered in the form of a kind young man in camo.