Here’s a thing: I woke up this morning with I wanna be sedated song by Ramones blaring in my head. I didn’t read too much into. After all, it is April, 5th, who knows what day of the quarantine and my dog Dio just smeared his saliva covered teddy bear right in my face. Good morning world, or better yet, let the games begin.
By the time I got up and brewed coffee, Dio managed to chew off two leaves of the avocado plant I barely saved from his last attempt at it. I fought off an urge to toss him a glare instead of his chewing bone. Hey, it’s been a long week and we all have the little mood swings that make us human or whatnot.
If this quarantine has thought me anything, it is that the two of us quarrel like an old couple. Where, in reality, I look like an insane lady trying her best to keep it together, while the dog just stares blankly and then turns his back to me.
A few hours later, and an intolerable amount of coffee (even for me) I got a message from Linda, a friend of mine. She forwarded me an article which said that discomfort we are all feeling due to the pandemic outbreak, is collective grief. But what caught my attention, as I continued reading the article, and subsequently made me travel through time, were two simple words: anticipating grief.
And yet somehow in that exact moment, I couldn’t care less about the current situation in the world. Those two words brought me back to my childhood.
Proving Oneself Worthy of the Mountain
I must have been eight the very first time I anticipated grief. I remember the events leading up to it very well. In fact, those events were a to-go dinner party story my parents would tell for longer than I wished. Now that I am the master of the story, well, it goes like this.
It was the dead of the night, and as soon as I heard a soft snore coming behind the door of my parent’s bedroom, I tied double knots on my sneakers and opened a door. We lived in a suburban neighbourhood and from what I could see, all the neighbouring lights were out.
I placed my foot on the balcony railing, and with my right hand on the edge of the roof, I pulled myself upwards with all strength I could muster. The heaviness of my backpack pulled me into a gentle swing, and I almost regretted packing all those books. Taking a moment to recover, I sighted. Oh boy, I’ve made it.
My plan was ingenious really. All the townhouses in our street were linked to one another, so I could easily reach the last house in the row, just by walking over the roofs. Once I reach the last house, I could climb down the tree that grew right next to the house wall, and well above its roof.
I knew my plan was bulletproof since just the day before I dared Jack, who lived in the last house in the row, to climb to the top of the tree. He backed out, but I went on to successfully test my theory. What I didn’t foresee was my next-door neighbour coming home from a night out. But let’s not concern ourselves with that just yet.
Not realising that I was spotted by my neighbour, I climbed down the tree, jumped over Jack’s fence and headed to the woods just behind it. It didn’t take long to reach the woods and with a torch in hand, there was enough light to comfortably walk towards the Treehouse Fort I built with the help of my grandpa.
A few minutes later, I pulled down a rope ladder and climbed up. If I am to show that I am an adult, I thought, the very first step is sleeping alone away from your house. And once I prove that I can take care of myself, prepare food, or actually cans and sandwiches I brought with me, parents will simply have to let me go on the mountain trekking trip.
I climbed in my sleeping bag and must have fallen asleep pretty soon because when some hushed-up voices woke me up, the torch was still warm from its use. My finger instinctively touched the switch button on the torch but luckily I didn’t press it. The palms on my hands began sweating, and my heart sped up the beat. From the conversation I could hear, there were two men, and with each second they were coming closer to where my Treehouse Fort was.
I drew my breath in, and looked through the peering hole in the wall of the Fort, afraid to show my face on the window. The two men were tall and dressed in big jackets, heavy pants and boots. From the little light, there was, I could see the dirt on their boots and the rims of their pants. Their torches lit the way in front of them, and as they were passing under my tree, I waited for them to discover my treehouse. Anticipating being discovered and the danger that followed, I began shivering. One, I began counting. Two, the air stilled. Three, they didn’t look up and instead continued walking towards the edge of the forest. Just as I thought that would be all, I heard one of them say.
– Did you lock the doors to the tunnel?
The other man grunted in response.
– Good. The boss will be happy with what we discovered. Now, let’s head back to the van before the light comes out and someone discovers us.
The good news was, the neighbour waited until the morning to out me out. My parents, mad with the rage of what could happen to me (if only they knew what I’ve seen and heard), grounded me for a month. No TV, no sleepovers and no going out.
Great, I thought. Now I have no way of telling Jack what happened.
Across the time travel line, Dio and I are seated on our dark orange couch, watching BBC earth just to soak up enough nature to get us through the day.
“This article is amazing”, I text back to Linda, as the chills of the long-gone memory crawl down my spine.
I guess the hardest thing to learn is to sit still and marvel in the art of living indoors when all we crave is the outside connection. For years I thought that being locked indoors is the absolute carnage of my soul. But that month of being punished and prohibited from going outside thought me the beginnings of finding a way out. Even if it means dotting on mountains from my laptop, comfortably seated on the couch.
What adventures did you go on today?
searching for the wilderness
the art of living indoors