I was in love. I did not know it.
What I knew was delight. My bare feet caressed meadows sprinkled with flowers as tiny and lovely as jewels. Each sunrise stunned me as it set flames upon granite spires, then brushed them downward. At times, my eyes brimmed and my heart swelled. My legs had grown stronger, but they often felt weak, as if yearning to kneel before the world’s generosity.
I did not call it love because I did not yet know love, though I would soon. In a few months I’d meet my high school sweetheart and feel the same thrill and and swoon, with the added rush of hormones and sexuality. So I didn’t see what happened then as genuine love until…now. But it’s obvious: my first love was nature. Its currents flowed beneath my second, lending depth to the surges of young romance.
I’ll tell the story of Marion and me before long. But highlighting this earlier love feels important. It planted a purpose that never faded, even as romantic relationships came and went in my early years. While camped beside Thousand Island Lake and awaking each morning to the sight of Banner Peak yawning its golden tooth toward the sky, I began to see a future beyond drugs and chaos. I could study nature; it could be my career. Though I often lost sight of that purpose in years to come, it always returned to me. It is in view right now, as I write this story in the face of self-doubt and a portfolio of unfinished projects.
True love makes one a bit mad. In telling these stories from my past, I’m trying to show what Life taught me about itself. I make the attempt even though it’s not possible to explain what happened without revealing painful and shameful secrets. Like much of my past, the project feels a bit nuts. Still, it’s something I must undertake. What I believe Life has spoken to me seems too big to be kept inside.
Life calls us home, but too often we don’t hear her. My first faint heeding of her call began by that deep, still lake. But it did not end there, and the journey forward was neither smooth nor steady. In fact, before another two weeks passed, another misstep landed me in Juvenile Detention.