An Indoor Girl

Look, I’ve hiked the Cinque Terra, ridden a donkey up the cliffs of Crete, and waterskied down the Colorado River. I trekked through the Mayan jungle and climbed Tikal. I hiked the pine forest above Rio Caliente, scaled Nevada Falls, and climbed rickety ladders to peer into ancient painted caves in New Mexico. I explored the top of Monte Alban where I came close to sacrificing my teenaged son to the gods. I did a ropes course; actually, I only did the morning session. When I found out the afternoon was in the treetops, I bailed.

I’ve flown in the back of a four-seater out of Belize, the training pilot’s first flight with passengers. For no reason, I took an airplane ride from Schellville Airport in a tin can made of paper mache and balsa wood that was smaller than my car. I asked what I should wear. He said a red teddie would be nice. I borrowed one and wore it under my jean jacket until it was time to board. There are pictures …

Bats, bird crap, and biting flies were the high points of beach-camping at the Salton Sea. I’ve whitewater rafted both forks of the American River; when I flipped out at Troublemaker and got caught in a whirlpool, time slowed and I thought, oh, so this is what it feels like to die. When I popped back up an eternity later, I frantically paddled to shore. They said I had to get back in the raft. I said pffft, I’m walking back to camp. They said you can’t, there are bears in the woods. I said I’ll take my chances.

Once I rode a horse. When he bucked me, my friend said get right back on. If you don’t, you’ll never get on one again. Sure. As if I had any intention of getting back on a horse. Years later when I found myself on an old packhorse named Ike in Yosemite, it all came rushing back to me.

In Florida I sat nearly cheek to jowl on a live alligator. Trapped in the Tropical Butterfly House in Seattle, I ducked and covered whenever one silently hovered anywhere near me. First I got seasick snorkeling in the warm waters off Ixtapa, then petrified an eel might slither by. (I scream the same way whether I’m about to be attacked by a great white shark or a piece of seaweed touches my leg.) And I’ve slid down more black diamond ski slopes than I care to remember.

Have I enjoyed any of it? No. I was usually terrified. Would I do any of it again? Nope. I don’t have to, I don’t want to, and you can’t make me. None of it was my idea in the first place, and clearly, I didn’t think things through. I just wanted to do things with my kids and hang out with friends.

Today, when I’m invited camping, I make a list of what I need:
    1. New friends

I’m simply not an outdoor person. I prefer museums, old churches, and art galleries. I like restaurants and movies, bookstores and ice cream parlors. Partial to villages and open markets, I also prefer small towns to big cities and big cities over jungles. I’ve flown in a typhoon and been lost in a hurricane. When I was nine we lived in Hawaii; Hurricane Nina hit and I got turned around and couldn’t find my way home from school. The hills where we lived were like a jungle. I hate the jungle. Personally, I find the wilderness overrated. I read Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, and thought, this woman is a complete and total lunatic. She slogged across a thousand miles of the Pacific Coast Trail, grieving the death of her mother. She could have skipped the trip, for godsakes, and merely written the book.

Big Sur, California July 1967 (age 19), when I thought nothing of lying in the sun

With great disdain, my sister once asked me if I was born in a box. I said, yes, and I rather fancy it in here, so leave me alone. I’m an indoor girl, and I like it that way. I favor places where my chances of getting stung, bitten, kicked, gored, attacked, pecked to death, or eaten alive are at a minimum. Where it’s warm and dry and safe. Where the playing field is level… like a dance floor. I love the beach (unless it’s raining or windy), and I prefer lying in the sun on soft white sand where I can see the horizon and anything coming my way.

© 2018. Catherine Sevenau.
All rights reserved.

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  1. Jim Chatfield says

    Wow, you really are an international traveler and had a lot of experiences. I always enjoy your stories, they make people feel like they are right there with you. That pin-up picture of you on the beach was good. I imagine you attracted a whole lot of young men like a magnet.

  2. Susan Dalberg says

    Ditto from this end also!!!

  3. Marian Clemens says

    I loved this writing. I’m still laughing out loud.

  4. For being an in the box girl you have had some amazing experiences.

    • I was younger… and thank goodness I did have them. When I write about my childhood (coming up in Part II), I see from where my fears stem. Without friends and family encouraging me, I’d have led an uneventful life. I survived it all, but perhaps that was the whole point, to prove those things wouldn’t kill me. I was sure they would as a kid. I have pain linked to fear, or fear linked to pain.

  5. I’m right there with you! You go girl!

  6. Janet Sasaki says

    Now I can understand why you do not like bats, for one!

  7. Cathie McGinnis says

    Love the honesty, Cath.

  8. Cindy Riley says

    And this is why I love you…

  9. That’s my girl