June 17, 1987
I used to come here with her some times, autumn walks through the mills which gave us something to do between the time she came home from work at five and I went to work at eleven.
One might call it a nature walk, though it was more than that, it was an oasis in the midst of a growing and insane commercial world, a walk where dog owners and lovers came to share the shade, lovers often walking arms around each other along the two main trails.
There are other overgrown grassy trails that give the illusion of wilderness. She and I made love on a few of these – although we generally made love everywhere on anything, flat surface or not.
This is one of the places she said she could still find peace.
But she didn’t introduce this place to me; Pauly did, close enough to the town where he grew up for him to consider it his personal natural laboratory.
I was dating another woman then, who came with me and Pauly to explore it.
In many ways, it always reminded me of a race track with trees, one long looping gravel path that brought you back to the small gravel parking lot where you started – although on the far end, you could sit down on the edge of a cliff and stare out at the suburban sprawl these trees hid mostly from view.
Sometimes – when she was not in the mood to make love or after we did – we strolled along the path just to look at the mushrooms that sprouted up in droves to either side of the path – as pretty as flowers, we thought, which is why I got so angry when some right wing gun toting jerk in a pickup came here and picked them all. We caught them carrying out bags of them for some feast they had planned because they thought they had a right to pick them since their taxes (the ones they actually paid) make this park possible.
I secretly hoped the mushrooms he ate were poison.
I felt as if the bastard had robbed my wallet. But I got over it, and the mushrooms returned.
Our visits here came infrequently in winter since the trail closed at dusk and we had so few hours to spend between coming and going from work that we dared not waste any time making the drive here from Passaic, choosing to make love in my pathetic bed in my pathetic cold water flat instead.
But as I walk here today, two years after we split, I miss most holding her hand as we strolled, and treasure the memories, such as the raccoons who we caught in the middle of the path or the ducks who mistook a puddle for a pond, and the mushrooms. I will always miss the mushrooms.
I will always miss the mushrooms 1987