My Favorite Place on Earth

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A memory of childhood

I was a boy living deep down in the American South.

The house, though open to the air, was often sultry. My room of a summer morning smelled of my own stale sweat.

Living on a mountain as we did, and in the middle of a forest, I had a frequent escape.

Still in my pyjamas, I would slip out my window and pick my way barefoot down a game trail into a hidden rill.

The sun would reach for me through leafy cover and stab me with fiery knives.

At the end of the trail lay my favorite place on earth.

A perfect, round, rock-rimmed little pool bubbled and chattered, fed by an icy spring.

I'd poke all around with a broomstick I kept handy, just to scare away any lurking snakes. Then I'd strip off, toe my way over mossy rock, and lower myself into that fresh, chilled bath.

I didn't drink coffee in those days.

I didn't need it. What a perfect start to a fiery summer day.

Sometimes, even now, I close my eyes and I hear that spring bubbling away. I hear the birds, and I hear a warm wind whistling through pine needles that smell of Christmas.

I feel the cold sluice the night's sweat from my skin, and I smile.

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.

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