Sooo last night I was playing Settlers of Catan with some friends and drinking various beers, when I got antsy and decided to leave to perform a variety of mysterious and unexplainable errands by moonlight.
I am moving away from my beloved East Van in a couple of weeks, and for some reason in my intoxicated state felt it would be both cathartic and symbolic for me to throw a plaster cast of my face (which I’d always hated because it doesn’t look like me) off of a bridge with a view of downtown. So I do this with one ear tuned in to my iPod playing Fuck the Pain Away by Peaches, and the other listening for the satisfying smash of the plaster against the railroad tracks far below. And the smash is satisfying, but not as satisfying as I decide it would be for me to go down there and see how many pieces it had smashed into and maybe stomp on them a little bit.
The problem being that “down there” happened to be a deep valley bordered on both sides by steep cliffs surrounded by barbwire-topped fences. Like they’re trying to dissuade you from hanging out on railroad tracks or something. But I decide it can’t be surrounded by cliffs forever, and start walking along the sidewalk beside it in a downhill direction. On the way I pass the iconic East Van cross, and take some ultra low res photos with my cell phone:
Anyway, inevitably I end up a bit closer to sea level and stumble upon a railroad crossing, where I find it significantly easier to trespass onto the tracks. And so I go wandering down them back towards where I’d started, alternatively hopping from tie to tie and edging along the grassy bits beside the tracks in an attempt to find the stealthiest route possible, as I’m suddenly hyperaware of the empty skytrains passing by far up above, not to mention the potentially populated roadways by which I’d just come. While attempting to blend into my surroundings I discover they are less hospitable than I’d originally assumed, as the land slopes down on either side of the track, which (what with Vancouver weather being what it is) creates a sloppy marshland which is less than fun to slog through. I also discover (after slogging through sloppy marshland to get there), as I’m trying to clamber up to the foot of the cliffs on either side that those cliffs aren’t made of rock, they’re just dirt, which at this point is mud as the weather has been predictable lately. And growing out of the mud in every direction and over every surface are these absurdly sharp, knee-high brambly thorn bushes which cling to every garment. And also skin; they cling to skin too.
So I stick to hopping along the railroad ties for the duration of my journey, but must have been drunk and stupid and not paying attention and in a dark valley in the middle of the night? Because I managed to walk right past the bridge where I threw my face off and on and on past several other bridges until I get to this very far away bridge and realize my mistake. Now I’m not only drunk but tired, and paranoid of being caught, and so not psyched about walking allll the way back to where I’d started, and then alll the way back home. So those mudslidey, thorn-covered cliffs are suddenly looking a lot more agreeable.
I find what I consider a strategic spot to climb up. Strategic because I can see that the top of the cliff at this point is surrounded by a non-barbwire-topped fence, and because there is a very long tree growing out from the cliff at a point almost right at the top, and it’s fallen over so the trunk of it reaches down to where I’m standing, hovering at about the height of my head.
So I wrap my arms around this wet, mouldering tree trunk and start to (inconceivably) drag myself up a very steep cliff consisting only of mud and thorny bushes. I’m wearing my once shiny blue doc martens, tights, a dress with a flouncy skirt and a jacket. The doc martens are not for the most part able to find any sort of purchase on the mudslidey slope, and so my arms and the tree trunk end up doing most of the work, as thorny bramble bushes cling to me from all sides, dragging at the hem of my skirt and tearing a multitude of tiny holes through my tights (and flesh). Though, I was grateful for them at one point when I’m already halfway up this cliff and upon looking down no longer have any thoughts of turning back, and I’m forced to rely on a not entirely stable looking branch growing out of this tree to haul myself up through a particularly difficult mudslidey bit. The branch of course breaks off when taxed with my full weight, and I have a moment of pure panic where I think I’m about to fall off a cliff. In that moment those brambly bushes saved me, as several of them had a pretty solid purchase on the sleeves of my coat and skirt hem, and they stopped my fall almost as soon as it had begun.
Not totally sure how I managed to get a hold of that tree again and make my way past that mudslidey bit, but soon enough the top of this cliff is in sight, and all I have to do in order to make it to horizontal ground is climb under my tree trunk and up through this hole which exists where the tree partially broke off from its roots. And I’d thought the hardest part was over. But climbing up through that hole required me conquering a now completely vertical slope as mudslidey as any, and at one point I’m standing there hanging off this tree staring at this unconquerable obstacle and thinking I’mma have to just stay here. (I have my cell phone on me, but don’t recall thinking at any point that I should call for help.) Then somehow I motivate myself to attempt it, and manage to shimmy my way to the top by pressing my back up against the roots of this tree and shoving the toes of my boots into this wall of mud as best I can. I claw my way out of the hole, and again think the worst is over.
Now all I have to do is walk across a twelve-foot wide patch of brambles to reach the fence. It felt more like… infinity-wide? I thought I’d been scratched a lot by those fucking thorns already, but this is where I got most of my scrapes. It’s hard to motivate yourself to walk forward when doing so is causing bits of your skin to be torn off. But finally I make it to the fence, and have some trouble devising a strategic way over it. I have to grab some brambly thorn branches and push them aside, because they’re growing all up over the chainlinks. Once I’m over the fence I find myself in the parking lot of some gated community. The gateway into the parking lot is not so much climbable, but luckily it’s perpendicular to a chainlink fence on one side. So I squeeze my way through the gap by leaning heavily into the chainlink, which has a generous amount of give. And just as I stumble out onto this random bridge, I look down to see a train quietly making its way down the tracks in my direction. It’s the first time I’d ever seen a train on those tracks; I’d kind of figured they were abandoned. I took a picture of it snaking away past me, but again it’s super low res and you can’t really tell what it is:
I then feel something bumping against my side and think maybe I have a brambly branch still attached to me, but find that it’s my headphones (which have made their way out of my pocket) and the jack is dangling; devoid of its iPod counterpart. I stick my hand into my pocket and come up with a fistful of damp earth. Nature stole my technology and replaced it with dirt. Again, my drunk mind assumes this has some sort of immense symbolic significance. But my now sober mind believes it’s only symbolic of there being consequences for intense idiocy.
On the bright side, I feel like I now know exactly how the prince from Sleeping Beauty felt when he had to fight through a massive forest of thorns to reach her castle and wake her. Except the prince had a sword. And the damsel in distress he was fighting to save was not himself.
And he was not a fucking drunk idiot, probably.