October 20, 2008
I stood atop the huge rock that over looked the lake, naked, and although I had the lurking feeling that I should feel exposed, I did not.
Another perk of living in the forest, I thought sarcastically to myself. I quickly began to smother the glob of soap I held in my palm all over my body. Beneath my fingers and the bubbling lather I felt little goose bumps rise up in protest to the cool breeze. I shivered as I looked into the clear dark blue waters of the lake beneath me, knowing that it would feel even colder. But I also knew that I had to get clean, cold water or not. So I took one last deep breath, shut my eyes tight, plugged my nose, and pushed myself off of the rock and into the lake. I felt weightless for a few moments and then I heard a splash and the icy waters engulf me. I stayed suspended for a few moments until the shock of the freezing water wears off and starts to feel a little bit warmer. I get lost in the distinct whooshing and whirring noises of being under water and the feeling of the water rushing past me until I can’t hold my breath any longer. I kick my legs and use my arms to propel myself upwards and into the fresh air. The wind whips across my face feeling colder than ever but also very invigorating so that I didn’t mind. Now that all the suds had been thoroughly rinsed off, I leaned back into the water and let myself float around aimlessly. I looked up into the sky and sighed; it really was beautiful today. The white wispy clouds streaked lazily across the crisp fall blue sky. The whole picture was only made more stunning by the oranges and reds of the trees I saw in my peripheral vision.
“Wow, it really is a beautiful world,” I said. Talking aloud to myself, at first felt weird but I soon realized how much I had been missing the sound of any human voice, so I continued to do it. It now was a frequent thing I did without even thinking. “Mom would have loved this, she loved the fall.” I physically winced at the thought of my mother. Family was a touchy subject that usually ended up in me weeping in the fetal position rocking back and forth, wishing and praying to be near them, so I tried to avoid dwelling on them for too long.
“Anyways,” I continued with my commentary to no one, “I really can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I’ve been lost out here. I’m proud of myself for lasting this long, though. Well yes, I did have a whole backpack full of supplies, but still I had never even been camping before so I say I’m doing pretty well for myself… it really is just gorgeous up here.”
I rambled on to myself without really thinking about it. I was too busy still thinking about my mother. I just couldn’t stop my thoughts from lingering on her and how she always used to tell us to step back and really appreciate every little thing that we have. When she used to say this to us from time to time, I would roll my eyes, thinking that it would be a waist of my time. But now, doing this simple thing had almost become like a daily ritual for me know. As soon as I begin to think that my life is ruined or that I have nothing to live for, I began to list off everything I am grateful for. Although I felt pretty happy at the moment, I started my ritual anyways knowing that its soothing power over me would only make this moment so much more relaxing and complete. After listing all of my supplies, all of my fortunes, my good health and general well being, and the beautiful nature, I ended with what I always did, my family. Just knowing that, somewhere, they are together and well was such an unbelievable comfort to me.
I swam over to the rocky edges of the lake and had to force myself out of the water that felt warm to me now and into the freezing wind. I had no towels and couldn’t waste any clothes, so I forced myself to stand facing the wind, allowing it to dry my now clean skin and hair. It would have felt good except that I was tired of being cold and I yearned to feel warm and cozy. After I felt as if my appendages would fall off from frost bite if I stood another moment unclothed, I grabbed some clothes and slid them on. The clothes were a bit grimy and smelly, for I had decided against wasting any soap, other than for washing every few days, but I still felt much better than before. I gathered my things and with one last appreciative glance at the beautiful lake, I headed off in the direction I hoped desperately would lead me to something-anything.

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