We sat around the fire and talked of love and art, beauty and madness. We talked about religion, politics, spirituality, the meaning of life. We all spoke, each one taking turns while staring into the flames, me with a stick in my hand constantly adjusting the wood, lighting the end of my stick on fire and then putting it out, pounding the embers off on the rocks that ring the fire pit. The cool night air caressed our skin, the sound of the river rushing by in the background was better than any song I’ve ever heard. By the fire we sat, watching the embers glow and passed a bowl. We shared our thoughts and dreams. Hugging our hoodies close to our bodies, warding off the cold air, we watched the stars come out in force as the night grew darker. We passed around a bottle of bourbon, liquid fire in our bellies, keeping us warm, loosening our tongues so that we were sharing our most authentic selves, shedding the armor we wear out in the real world.
How many nights have I spent in this way at my favorite place on earth? More than I can count. I recall the family, friends, and lovers I’ve shared that space with. Days spent inner tubing down my beloved river, or skinny dipping in the swimming hole are favorite memories of mine. I've enticed many a friend to skinny dip by telling them it feels like a thousand tongues licking them all over, and it does. This place has been a constant in my life for 39 years. A sacred place. The place where I feel the most free and the most alive.