I have a hazy recollection of getting up to take a leak or get some more coconut juice and finding myself lost in the trees. It was dark and I was quickly disoriented. Normally in such cases one follows the sounds of revelry in order to get back, but it seemed I had lost my hearing. That sort of thing happened often enough. (Seriously, what was in that juice?) I knew my ears would work again in time. They usually got this pleasant, low level hiss that if you closed your eyes could almost convince you that a waterfall was nearby. But at that particular moment it was mighty inconvenient.
So next thing I know I'm stumbling around and running into trees and stepping on rocks and slapping at mosquitoes and then there it is. I'm standing there, looking at the bridge. Across the way I can see everything as I remembered it. The freeway is there. A McDonalds isn't far off. Cars are going by at what seems hyper-speed to me and I'm totally taken aback by the whole thing. Anyway, since I couldn't find my bearings on the island any more, civilization was suddenly looking pretty tempting.
I step out onto the bridge and find out that my legs aren't as strong as they used to be. Maybe I didn't do as much dancing as the other kids at the party. I must have been one of the more horizontally inclined because that rope bridge not only didn't agree with me, it was winning the argument. It creaked and groaned and shook and did just about everything it could to dissuade me from whatever notions I had about crossing it. But I kept on. It's not that I was tired of the jungle so much. I could go back any time I figured. But it was certainly time to leave. With every passing minute I was becoming more acutely aware of the rancidity wafting from my personal regions, nether and otherwise.
Then I stepped on a weak plank. The thing snapped and down I went. As one would expect, there was no troll to take pity on me. I just went into the water like a sack of steel. The river was cold and powerful. At first I thought myself lucky because I could see enough boulders sticking up that I thought I would be able to arrest myself on one of them. Turned out I just banged in to every one of them on the way down. I'm not even sure if I stayed in the water or just got tossed from one stone to the next by the sheer force of my own momentum. I could see both sides of the river, jungle on the right, highway on the left, but couldn't control my descent toward either one of them. The last thing I saw was a long branch coming out from wild kingdom. I reached up to grab it, but it snapped off in my hand and came down on my head. I was out.
I awoke downriver in a severely uncomfortable state. The body that washed up on the shore sort of looked like mine, except it was emaciated and bruised and colored yellow where the eyes should have been white. But the fates were kind I just so happened to land on the side of the river what had hospitals, so that's where I went. They patched me up and sent me home with a long and disturbing bill. Getting treated for 76 different ailments was costly. But most alarming was that only 4 of them came from the river. You wouldn't believe the things I had picked up in that jungle. Everything from congenital foot lice to severe frontal lobe laceration. Good party.
Things hadn't changed much on this side of the river. People still had to work for a living, unfortunately. So I moved in with some friends, got a Joe Job, and even went to college for a while. When I got bored with all of that I moved up to Portland to pursue my ambitions as an outsider. A lot of people go to Portland for that. I was Home.