Spring Break 2017, Part Two: “28 Inches”

I slept in and did not go to church today. Instead I spent the morning doing laundry and perusing my friend’s bookshelves. She has seventeen different editions of Peter Pan. I don’t own even one.

Now that I’ve had a decent night’s sleep, I must say I do feel better about being back here. The air feels cleaner in my lungs. The sun, warmer. Even the water of my shower felt lighter. The world is quiet here.

My first voyage out into the world was to the Barnes and Noble a block away from my old campus. During my undergrad, when I was stressed, I’d go there and hide in the stacks for a couple hours and read Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics. At B&N, I bought a book of T. S. Eliot poems, and Virginia Woolf’s Night and Day and Moments of Being. I think most of my money this trip will be spent on books and the theatre. I’m good with that.

Before going to the arboretum, I went across town to the Turner Ashby monument. I’d driven past it many times when I lived here, but I’d never climbed the hill to see what exactly it was. Here’s what it was:

There wasn’t much of a trail beyond the monument. The only path by the obelisk meandered slightly downhill until it abruptly ended at the treeline. The view of the city is beautiful from up there, but other than that I’m afraid I don’t have much else to say about it. At the trail opening, there was some small number of broken glass shards and a crushed, empty box of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. That is all.

I then went to the arboretum. I was rather excited for this part of my day, as I’d once read poetry for all small crowd gathered by a weeping willow on the lake’s edge. The Poet Tree, we called it. Nailed to one side was a wooden box where one could write and deposit a poem, or take a poem out of it to carry with them on the small hiking trail. Imagine my surprise, then, to find the entire tree had gone. The edge of the lake was tidied up, too, and had I not previously known about the Poet Tree, I’d have no reason to suspect it was ever there.

I walked part of the trail near the lake.

Shortly thereafter, I located a bench near the lake and read a few chapters of D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love. I read until the sun started to slip behind the trees and my fingers were too cold to comfortably hold my book.

Dinner. My friend Emily, who’s been my rock since we suffered through the same American lit class during our senior year, works at a pizza place a couple blocks from where I’m staying. They’re infamous for serving slices of pizza the size of one’s head, and for their slogan: “Can you handle our 28 inches?” Before I even made it up the front stoop to open the shop’s door, she had run outside and leapt into my arms. “I can’t believe you’re really here,” she said. “You’re real; you’re real.”

She fed me and we got caught up on each other’s lives. I finally said, confidently and aloud, “I’ve been very depressed,” even though she seemed to know without my saying it. She’s always been able to tell when I’m carrying the mountains I was only supposed to climb. I sat in the shop for three hours, reading more Lawrence and chatting with Em when business was slow. We’re having breakfast tomorrow, hiking later this week, and, if we end up not going to a local vineyard, then we’ll be getting box-wine-drunk and watching Pixar movies in her apartment. I’d be happy to do either. I missed her. I missed it here. Here’s her hands, accompanying my large slice of pizza:

Tomorrow I’m going into the main campus to see what’s changed. They’re always building or renovating something here. Then I’ll hopefully be finishing Women in Love on a mountaintop tomorrow evening. As always, there will be pictures.

Goodnight all.


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