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As I press my eyes together to keep the sunlight at bay, I can feel the forest all around, the firm ground pressing against the contours of my back, the pliable dirt beneath my fingers. I listen to the trees breathe and marvel as the very essence of nature soaks into my skin. Sometimes it's difficult to accept that a place like this exists. Sighing, I allow my mind to wander. Then I feel a gentle kick at my hip.
I groan. Opening my eyes, I squint through the sunlight to see the profile of a gangly teenage boy.
“What are you doing?” he asks.
Closing my eyes again, I smile. “I'm imagining what it must have been like to be a transcendentalist.”
He paused. “Really? Because it looks like you're lying in the middle of my driveway.”
I open my eyes again and sit up. “Well. You have a nice driveway.” I motion at the scenery around us. “And besides, your mother hates me. I was afraid to ask if I could come in.”
He rolls his eyes, pushing his unruly brown hair out of his face. “She doesn't hate you. She just, uh, isn't … used to you.”
I raise an eyebrow.
Sighing, he sits down beside me. “Okay, so maybe she has welcoming issues.”
I eye him for a moment before grabbing his hand and lying back down, trying to return to my former peaceful state.
“So I suppose this means we're not going anywhere,” he asks, an awkward smile on his face.
I shake my head. “Nope. You ruined my concentration. We're not going anywhere until I can meet up with Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson.”
He laughs, lying down beside me. “Then I have a feeling we'll be here for a while. I might as well get comfortable.”
I shove him playfully. “Hey, don't underestimate my ability to time travel. It may come in handy some day.”
“Sure, sure.” I hear him snicker.
“Okay, fine. But one day, when you come to me begging to meet up with Alfred Hitchcock or something, you can forget it.”
I turn my head to find him staring at me, all traces of humor gone from his face. My smile fades as my heart picks up. He lightly squeezes my hand.
“I hope I'm not interrupting your concentration.”
I shake my head. “No.”
And I realize that this is my version of transcendentalism. We may not be revolutionizing the way people approach literature, or even life in general, and we certainly aren't striving for a feeling of higher purpose. He is my purpose. I am him … he is me. We are the breath of the trees and the pliable dirt beneath our fingers. We're all that ever was or ever will be. We're everything that we need. And as I look into his eyes – really look – I know that nothing will ever change that.
He smiles. “Have you met them yet?”
Biting my lip, I nod. “Yeah.”
I smile. “And they've got nothing on you.”
Round Lake, Illinois
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