Yesterday's Conversation with my new Roommate:
Him: Your shower is killing me! I like the rain stick, but the shower head is PAINFUL.
Me: (Laughing) It has an accelerator on it.
Him: It's like showering at a camp site! It's like when our water went out and we had to shower at the state park...
Me: What? You showered at a STATE PARK when the water went out?
Him: I was a poor kid!
Me: Dude. I wasn't what you would call rich either!
Him: Yea. But I lived out in the country.
Me: (Resolved) You got me. I'm an Urban Kid. (shaking head) State Park Showering. Jesus Christ.
I thought to myself: At least this poor man didn't have to jump into a well to shower as a kid.
As an urban kid, the idea of heading out to "Nature" is a one or two year affair. You pack up your electronic things, hope that you can still get internet connection and get into your GPS car to see the bears, in a cabin that is hopefully conveniently located at least four miles away from a Starbucks.
This comes from the fact that my family lineage are urban people - From Memphis to the great move north to find work and prosperity. My entire family were not what you would call Outdoor People. Unless you take into account "Outdoor" meaning "Get on the bus to go to the Rainbow Beach in Chicago."
I remember my mother looking at houses when we moved into our own from my Grandmother's duplex. I remember looking at this beautiful tree in front of one of the places. My mom immediately said No. Her logic: Needs pruning. The roots grow under the house and ruin the plumbing. We would need to cut it down.
Nature. Schmature. That is going to fuck with the plumbing.
My mother's idea of "Outdoors" was sitting outside on a restaurant patio. She didn't like that either. Bugs, you know.
With her dislike of the outdoors came of course the intense interest of me wanting to head out to it from friends who always talked about going camping and fishing and going on hikes. Every year some camping trip would happen at my school. My mom never signed that parent release. I wanted to be in The Girl Scouts. I never went on the camping trips. I lasted as a Girl Scout just long enough to get the huge box of girl scout cookies to sell around the neighborhood.
My mom loved Thin Mints. She hated the idea of buying a tent. I didn't really see true nature until the time I left home.
One of the first remembrances of being around large animals and birds that were not in zoos or bird conservations, was when I joined Geese Company.
It was when (about fifteen miles to the cabins) there were no city lights and the just glare of our headlights I knew I was about to see nature.
It was also the moment I got really scared. An urban kid also has great images of seeing horror films at that run down 2nd run movie house in the genre of movies like Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane or pick any slasher films where the first one to die in the woods far away in nature is always The Black Person First with the Comic Relief Second.
I was scared. In movie urban world: How will the slasher see me first. Comedy Relief or Black.
It was dark when we got to the cabins. The cabin smelled like the inside of one of my mom's wooden jewelry boxes. I got there and it was a bed without much linen. A couple of chairs and a small desk. No television. No phone. You could hear through the walls into the other cabins. In my mind I thought that worked out well because if I didn't want to read, I could just overhear the conversations of other people in the company for entertainment. I put down my sleeping bag and hoped no one in a hockey mask would peg me as Black before Comedy Relief.
The next morning I woke up and realized I was still alive. It was the first glance of where we were staying out of my cabin window.
It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. There were beautiful birds in the trees with an amazing clear shot of the ocean. I walked outside and it didn't smell like diesel fuel or someone with their window open burning a microwave dinner. It was the smell of nature that made me almost euphoric followed immediately by the view of the beauty.
This was not a picnic by a soccer field with a community center next to it and a pool. The pool was the ocean. This was not taking a bus to the park with the plastic jungle gym with the gang graffiti. This was a hike walk to someone who put up a tire swing.
These were not pigeons. These were robins and hawks. This is not a three legged dog. That is a deer. Not a bunny at a petting zoo. That is a bunny not in a petting zoo.
"Why did my mom hate this so much?" I thought to myself standing there in the most beautiful nature I have ever seen. "What was wrong with her?" I thought to myself. "I could do this" I thought. "I could live in nature and this beauty and solace for the rest of my life."
...that was when I saw the hornet's nest the size of two of my heads in eyeshot with (in mind seemed like) millions of hornets.
I ran into the cabin and stared at it.
I get it. I thought to myself.
I'm now roughly about the same age as my mother when she denied me seeing nature as a child. I still don't understand why she never let me just see a big hornets nest up close earlier. It would have probably made me more weary of the beauty of nature when you know you are going to puff out being allergic to hornet bites...or know there are man eating sharks in that beautiful ocean.
Still. I will once or twice a year take that chance. Just for the smells followed immediately by the sight of nature.
But with bug repellent and internet connection to call for help when I get mauled by a bear.
Causes Shaun Landry Supports
The Alzheimer's Foundation, NAACP, Breast Cancer Foundation, Gilda's Club.