a tale of two creeks.

II.

last summer, i was working at a chaotic mental hospital. i stormed out of work on a day so hot it was still over 90 as the sun was sinking. instead of taking the bus to the light rail, which i could have done easily, i chose to walk. not on the road, but along the dried-out creekbed. according to google maps, it was the most direct way to get there.

you can read more about my journey in a little bit. it was hard. it was not the direct way to get there. i got lost. the sun set. i felt hopeless for a moment. i made my way home, because i always do. i remembered that i had no one to call. this is a recurring theme in my life.

today i went to the mental hospital on my day off. i have lots of days off now. i had 5 jobs in 2020. i spent all summer working way more than full time. spent the month of october working full-time at a different job, a job that was supposed to change my life, only to be forced to resign 3 weeks in for totally bullshit reasons. got another job by a miracle of fate, but it’s part time. so i have time on my hands. i should be using it. i’m not. i mean, i was for a while, and then i stopped.

yesterday i got an email from the mental hospital saying that, as a thanks for us exposing ourselves to COVID-`19 they were giving us a $50 gift card but we had to come get it by the end of the week or else it would DISAPPEAR FOREVER! i’ve been avoiding the hospital since it is very full of COVID and i disagree inherently with about every way they treat their clients and since i worked all summer way more than full time and got a lot of OT with nowhere to spend it, i have enough money saved to not be forced into emotionally and physically dangerous spaces. i have enough money saved to say no. this is new to me. i joined the workforce in 1997.

i don’t need the $50 gift card, but i know people who do, and i’ll be goddamned if i let the hospital take it, and i wasn’t doing anything today so i took the train/bus out there. everything’s been so blah, for a while, as you know. i mean, you don’t know the terrible specificities of my life, but you know the general thing most people have been dealing with. if i didn’t go out to get this gift card i might spend the day on the internet, or watching TV. some people don’t mind this. i mind.

i got the goods and i got takeout lunch from a restaurant. ate it while reading a library book; i realized i’d read it years before. i forgot all of it so it was still somewhat enjoyable, almost like new. i was in the park across the street from the hospital. before the time change i would go there at lunch, walking for precisely 15 minutes and then turning around and walking 15 minutes back so i could get back to the phone on time. but today, i had no reason to turn back.

last summer, i walked on the dry creek bed. today, even though it’s rained for maybe 3 days this year, there’s an actual creek.

i initially resisted the forest. after a few minutes i felt my mindset start to change. we need natural spaces. our brains are calibrated towards them. something about the grass and the lichen. is this even lichen? i don’t know. it’s something, thriving despite everything.

i feel like shit every day. i’m 38 and have been actively trying to feel ok for at least 20 years. longer. 23 years. looking at the muddy creek i thought, “i’m going to feel this way forever. pandemic or no pandemic. in love or not in love. on meds or off meds. this is just how i am. i need to deal with it.”

i have also had truly brilliant and inspiring moments that most people only dream of. this is my reality. i mostly feel bad though, especially for the past four years. how to deal with that? how to move forward? in the tiny strip of forest in a place we in the colonized world call sacramento california, in a creek that existed only as a dried up space a few months ago, i feel accepting. this is the way i am. deal with it.

a few months ago i walked on this creek bed and it was hard but also inspiring.

today, without even trying, i realize i can walk a path all the way back to the light rail station. it is so easy. it is so much easier than walking through the creek (which is impossible, or at least difficult, now with the re-introduction of water) was. it took at least half the time. it wasn’t physically challenging. it wasn’t every step, slogging through sand, in 90 degree heat at the end of a long and terrible workday.

it just was. when i saw the sign for the chevron station i couldn’t believe it. how had i gotten there already?

I.

written on facebook, june 24 2020

yesterday i had a truly terrible day at work. nothing dramatic, just the constant slow grinding down of a system that openly prioritizes money over human dignity. i left around 8:30pm, half an hour after i was supposed to. i coulda taken the bus to the lightrail and gone home. it would have been easy. but i’d been inside all day and i wanted to see if walking along the dried up creek bed would be a better way to the light rail than walking alongside the busy road.

i crawled under the underpass and into the creekbed. it’s called arcade creek now. what was it called 500, 1000 years ago? i don’t know. there were trees and plants and a lot of mosquitos. it was still 85 degrees at that hour and i was wearing biz-cas but i walked as fast as i could, in the soft sand, scared of stray dogs or whatever i would find there.it was a beautiful walk, but wasn’t easy. i had to crawl over huge piles of fallen trees, around mud puddles. my phone battery was at 25% and who was i gonna call even if i did get stuck. i saw myself as a little blue dot in a map (yes, i have a smartphone now) but i couldn’t really articulate precisely where i was.i trudged on. it really was a long walk. it looked more direct on the map but it wasn’t any quicker. i saw a skunk. i walked through thorns. a nice homeless guy who lived in the woods said i was going the right way. i missed a turn somewhere and wound up on 99 (i was looking for i-80). pulled myself up an embankment to get there, fell off once (it was a very short fall).the point is, i made it to the light rail. the bus would have taken five minutes, the crappy side-of-the-road walk would have been 40 minutes, this took an hour. yet, i guess that is who i am and who i always will be. i need to do stupid things to feel alive sometimes. many things could have gone wrong in my night, yet, they didn’t. i was able to shake off the rage and hopelessness i felt at work because i was so all-consumed with my mission. maybe i’ll give my two weeks’ notice today, maybe not. trying to remember that the comfortable way isn’t always the best. i was super relieved when i got back to civilization, the air conditioning of the light rail car. does any of this mean anything?

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