Thursday, November 8, 2007

Devil's Tramping Ground

Wyatt and I had a misadventure at the Devil's Tramping Ground on Halloween night. We went to bed at 8 p.m., got up at 2 a.m., and drove down into Chatham County. There's a clearing in the woods there where legends say Satan paces and does all his plotting against humanity. I planned to burn a sacrificial fire there, of a nature I will explain later.

The DTG is in a deeply rural area. We were disappointed to see that a car was parked on the side of the road at the head of the path to it. We didn't want to face an awkward situation with those folks, so we pulled off the road near the parked car to turn around and go home. We could see faint orange light from a dying fire in the middle of the DTG clearing.

Then I realized there was movement in the back seat of the parked car. My breath caught when I saw a sweatshirt-hooded face in the window, agape, almost like the mask the killer wears in the Scream movies, except he had glasses on. I guess we woke him up and he was squinting in our headlights, trying to see. Wyatt and I laughed about it after we peeled out of there and got over being spooked.

Now I'm going to explain why I needed to have a secluded bonfire.

Up until recently, I must have harbored a subconscious belief that someone would one day write a book about me, and so I should keep all the letters anyone ever wrote me and all the journal entries I ever penned. One can amass a huge pile of paper if one starts at age 13 and continues until late 30-something. Especially if one is a girl - for some reason, girls are letter-writing fiends in their teens.

Now that I'm living with someone else and confronting serious space issues, I've decided to get rid of this burden I've hauled from address to address since I was 18 - at least all of the stuff from 7th grade through college. But I don't know how. A paper shredder would choke on it. There's a statewide burn ban at all parks and camping facilities. The only option I could come up with was to trespass onto private property, even though it meant we might crowd the Devil.

At first I was going to re-read all this paper before I ripped it out and bagged it up, but that was no fun. Most of my journal entries were about angst and malaise, a brooding, boring mess. I never wrote about the fun exciting things that happened because I told and re-told the stories worth telling so much I got sick of them.

What was most interesting were the letters from other people. When you go back and look at first-hand accounts of the past, it makes you realize the problems you and others had back in your tender youth have come back again and again in different outfits. That a person's character doesn't really change. I was looking at a 1992 letter from Lindstrom and realized, hey, he's always done that - pine for love and then break up with his perfectly good new girl because he doesn't believe she loves him for the right reasons.

I also realized that my social scene was awash with brilliant, funny writers. So in deciding that these documents were worthless, I rediscovered their value. But I'm still ready to let them go.

No comments: