Alone, absorbing the late morning, I walk along the dirty floral sleeves of the Connecticut River's outstretched arms, stopping frequently for photos of weeds, tobacco fields, old weathered wooden barns and my own muddied reflection in the puddles of yesterday's rain. I wear black sweatpants, old Converse sneakers, white sunglasses and my pink flamingo tee-shirt with the sleeves rolled up. I walk for the better half of the hour before realizing that I might have to go to the bathroom.
I might have to poop.
Stubbornly, I walk for another twenty minutes before acceptance spanks me. I have to go to the bathroom.
I have to poop.
I turn around. A man, a woman and their dog are walking toward me. Smiling stiffly, I pass them. When they are far enough away, I stop to hold hands between my legs. I have to go to the bathroom now.
I have to poop now.
I shuffle a few feet. Fuck. I am going to the bathroom.
I am pooping!
I run into the forest of the river banks. I do not go far and I do not survey the landscape. I throw my sunglasses, camera and pants to the ground. I crouch, cursing quietly, and reach for the leafy roof above my humiliated head. Afterward, I kick back dirt and bury my underwear. Then I grab my sunglasses and camera and check the path for tractors. All clear.
At my friends' condo, I am alone. I shower, put my clothes in the wash and decide that I will never go camping.
For the rest of the day, I sit innocently under the generous shade of old trees, reading, writing and watching the path for a dog with my underwear between his teeth. My day is uninterrupted and my secret is safe in the dirt of the river's banks.
Home in Boston, I pray for rain.
One week later, little red bumps wake me up in the night. Soon, my body is decorated with hives and swollen finger nail scratches. My friends tell me they have it too. Must be from our walk to dinner somehow, they think and I hope. I realize now that it probably wasn't from our walk to dinner.
I probably pooped in poison ivy.