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Back to Nature

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With spring comes the primal desire to crawl from the cave and explore one’s surroundings. A road trip along the rocky coast of Maine. A long weekend in South Beach. Or, for me, four days in bed watching open-heart surgery and conjoined-twin separation on the Discovery Health channel. I can’t help it. Something about the warm weather makes me want to open my windows and watch a surgeon patch a ruptured descending aorta with a piece of Teflon-treated mesh fabric.

My partner, Dennis, does not share my spring fever for all things intubated and bloody. “This isn’t healthy. We should go to Massachusetts and ride our bikes,” he says. “Or, at the very least, spend the afternoon in Central Park.”

Reluctantly, I agree, because we are in a relationship and relationships involve certain compromises. Also, we live only two blocks from the ominous woods of Central Park, where behind every tree is either a serial killer or a police emergency call box.

I’ll confess, there are two places where I don’t feel safe: in public and in nature. The words public park give me a visible rash.

“But that makes no sense,” Dennis says, when I express my paralyzing terror beneath a canopy of budding branches. “You hate nature yet you want to build a log cabin and move to the country.”

This is true. I want a log cabin with a fieldstone fireplace dividing the kitchen and the living room. There must be old, wide-plank flooring throughout the house, and a claw-foot bathtub in each of the four bathrooms. But, I remind Dennis, I also want a fourteen-foot electric fence encircling the property. I need broadband Internet access and digital TV. In every room.

“You’re insane,” Dennis says evenly.

“I agree,” I respond, “it is insane to live in the country and have all these things and yet not have a panic room like Jodie Foster’s. Our log cabin needs a basement with two-foot-thick concrete walls and ceiling, and a solid-steel bombproof door.”

As we meander past the planetarium and back to the safety of the street, Dennis says, “We might as well head back to the apartment. I need to do some paperwork, and you can watch your shows.” This is what he calls them, “your shows.”

So, on the most glorious spring day I can remember, I recline on the bed and watch rapt as a woman (whose congenital condition gave her two wombs) delivers a little girl three months early. The baby is one pound, seven ounces. Or about the same size as the fresh Maine lobster I will not be having for dinner.

Augusten Burroughs is the author of Running With Scissors.


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