Five years later my dad and I find ourselves in the Siskiyou wilderness on a mini backpacking trip with a man named Rick who claimed to be our cousin (boy I hoped not) and his girlfriend whom I cannot recall the name of now, our goat Sugar, my first or second or third period, but I still didn’t know what the hell was going on, some beans, saltines, swimsuits and for the couple–a cardboard jar of rolling tobacco, which Sugar later ate, which didn’t end up well for anyone as you can imagine.
We were oh, two miles down the trail and six miles from where we were going. We each have our backpacks and my dad has a sauce pan tied to his. Sugar has a rope leash but its dragging on the ground cause he stays with us anyway.
I’m on my period so I’m not talking just sad just teenage just in between whimsical-childhood and dependent-on-everything-adulthood. There wasn’t too much of an in between for me (childhoodadulthood) but if there was–this was it. I still looked to my father for entertainment. I was at the age just before I would be stealing cigarettes from Rick and whatsherface. I’d tried cigarettes but not enough that I owned them yet. You know what I mean. That smallnarrowstage.
We were walking along over a strawberry-blond single-track trail of serpentine soil and I’m admiring the irises because its summer time again and I think I hear the creek and I hope it’s the creek and I’m so bloated and I’m going to secretly wash my crotch and thighs in the creek in a corner under a fallen log or behind a boulder. I’m going to go underwater and open my eyes cause that’s my favorite thing to do and oh I’m going to be clean and fresh.
I see my Dad smack himself in the face. Now granted my dad sometimes did funny things–smacking himself on the face wasn’t exactly one of them. Whack. He did it again.
“Bees!!!” He yells from the front of the line.
I too feel a small flying creature swoosh past my face, my ear, and we all start runnin’.
Run run run down the trail–the goat too.
Run run run until we finally outrun the bees and the two smokers are red in the face and panting.
Just as we stopped however Sugar leapt about a foot into the air on all fours–spooked by something just like a human would be–wide goat eyes and then we heard it: the steady movement of a rattle tail.
Run!!! Someone yells and we all start runnin’ again, Sugar in the lead.
Around a bend or two and we’re sure we’ve outrun the bees and the snake and we stumble into a large opening in the forest and see about four naked hippies sitting around a fire.
Bees, rattlers and now this?
My dad perks up as he naturally does with new people, especially hippies, and he gives them his warm smile which gets us an invite into the hippie circle.
We all sit down to catch our breath and I bleed my period blood onto a makeshift leaf pad in my shorts, having outrun a hundred bees and a rattlesnake but not my womanhood.