By Josh Azar
It was early on a chilly October morning. We had gotten up early to watch the sunrise over Adirondack Lake. To my left, Kevin was holding Malerie, rubbing her arms to keep her warm. In front of me, Chelsea was shivering, framed by the gentle glow of the rising sun. I reached forward to touch her arm, and she turned and snapped “don’t touch me.” I went back to bed.
To reach the town of Indian Lake, where Malerie’s parents had a cabin, the four of us had taken a 2 hour and 45 minute bus ride, followed by an additional 2 hour car ride. Many cabins in the small town stood empty, waiting for the summer rush. Our cabin, Bear Lodge, was set in the woods, and you could see the lake from the kitchen table. Fresh off of a recent break-up, I saw this weekend trip as the perfect opportunity to unplug from the world, to leave all my stress and anxiety back in Manhattan, and try to live in the moment, enjoying where I was and who I was with (although I quickly learned to keep my flirtatious spirit far away from Chelsea).
In the early afternoon, the girls took the kayaks out on the lake. I took out a guitar we had bought in Saratoga on the way upstate, and worked on a song, while Kevin did homework. I noticed the guitar’s case was labelled “Walden” and couldn’t help but smile. Kevin and I eventually joined the girls, taking out a canoe and jokingly calling ourselves master sailors.
Around 3 pm, we decided to go for a hike. Malerie’s parents, who were staying behind at the cabin, recommended a trail, and off we went. We walked for miles, climbing dead trees and posing dramatically for pictures. We found a river with large stones set into it, and Kevin and I leapt from stone to stone while the girls called after us, telling us what idiots we were. Something about being completely immersed in nature brought out an unrestrained, child-like enthusiasm that was invigorating. Of course, when I slipped on a wet rock and submerged my leg in the cold river water, the child in me was willing to calm down.
As the sun slowly began to ease beneath the treetops, we found we’d lost the trail. We discovered a downed tree with a trail marker, and realized that the path had been destroyed, perhaps by Hurricane Sandy the year before. Chelsea and Malerie found a large gathering of coyote tracks. With nightfall quickly approaching, and dangerous wild animals all around, we began to panic. We were deep in the woods, with no idea of where to go. I began to channel my inner Boy Scout (I had been a member of the Scouts for an impressive 3 year period over a decade ago), and remembered that moss grows only on the north side of trees. Armed with that knowledge I would be able to navigate us home and save the day. Unfortunately, moss does not only grow on the north side of trees, it grows wherever there is moisture. But still, I felt rugged and outdoors-y, and crouched in the mud to examine the tree trunks. Meanwhile, Malerie used her iPhone to pull up a map and call her mother for help. We eventually made it out and home, relatively unscathed (I had scraped myself up tree climbing, and Kevin had lost his socks to a particularly deep patch of mud).
That night we roasted marshmallows and sang songs around a fire, gleefully indulging in all the cliches a cabin stay has to offer. I snuck into the living room after everyone had gone to bed to look through the sliding glass back door and admire the stars. I had never seen so many. I had no idea that the night sky could be made so bright by anything other than city street lights. The entire day, I had not once checked Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, or Tumblr. I had not obsessively checked emails, or texts. I used to live on my cellphone, constantly staring down even when in the company of friends. But that night, I was looking up.