At thirteen, I remember spending the night with a fellow classmate. It was his idea to ‘sleep out’ in an open glade behind his house. We gathered our supplies for the night’s vigilance. Candy bars, donuts, soda pop, anything that we were not allowed to eat when in the company of our elders. I remember laying out on my ratty bag in the cool of the late night air, sucking down a root beer and having my way with a Snickers bar. We talked about things that were important to us. Cars, cool magazines, girls. Successful events at school, tasty foods, comic books, girls. Motorcycles, the best dog we ever had, the strawberry patches we had raided, and of course, girls. Then, the fantastical goals we hoped to accomplish in our lifetime. Mostly things that involved winning an award, a trophy or, getting our name in some Guinness Book. This included competitive events we were sure to champion. A subject that soon led to a pissing contest, and after a long bout of arm wrestling, brought us to the agreement that we were equal in just about every way. Exhaustion promptly overtook us, and drifting into slumber, dreamt the dreams of the innocent.
I remember waking in the dark, the moon now well into the west. In my sleepy haze, I rose up on an elbow to the complaint, “It’s too cold out here.” This was followed by the vague image of my companion standing, and without even so much as a good bye, drug his sleeping bag away toward his house. Pulling my head inside my musty bedroll, I remained to drown in a rolling sea of mist.
In the morning, I awoke, and poking my head out, saw the apex of the sun peeking over the horizon. The ground level fog suddenly writhed as if a great beast had awaken, and sending gossamer tendrils toward the sky, vanished, unveiling all that the dark had so selfishly concealed. As the golden orb rose, its rays lit my little world. Spider webs laden in dew, sparkled, as they stretched from milkweed to foxtail. The grass became a field of diamonds, rolling down to the Aspen lined, wire fence at the bottom of the glade. The sun soon cleared the skyline, framed by a gap in the saplings, and as the warbling song of a Meadowlark rolled out across that space, time stood still.
It was the first time in my life that I had truly felt that I belonged to the earth. Then the tears had come. Not a raging kind of cry, or even a sob, but, just a gentle flow. They were accompanied by a sweet feeling of wellbeing and a silent energy that seemed to surge from the ground where I rested. At that age I could not understand why there were tears. I had never been allowed to cry, that was against the rules. The unwritten decree that always sent me fleeing to a hidden place to vent my grief. Yet, this was not the same. I had shed tears for a reason that I could not grasp. A situation that led me into a deep ponderance, which brought forth the question, “How can something be so beautiful, that it could bring me to my knees?” I was already writing poetry by this time in my life, but had never really felt Poetry, until that moment.
The first tune I'd ever learned on piano in music class, was, ‘Morning Mood’ from Peer Gynt, and I just knew, that for Mr. Grieg, that piece was most certainly, a labor of love. Now, I truly understood. Rolling up my sleeping bag that morning, I left that place. Yet, happily, it has never left me.