I do not remember my first Earth Day, for I was but a soft sprout. I was a seed, a nascent bulb waiting to turn towards the sun and drink in its warmth, incapable of anything else.
My second Earth Day, I was mushed and squished and dehydrated and rehydrated and hardened into the equivalent of a block of seitan, a type of sticky, insoluble, and barely digestible food that is also known as “wheat meat.” Babies usually enter the “mirror stage,” when they can recognize their own image in a reflection, within 18 months. When I looked in the mirror, I saw my own wheat meat bulging out of the leg holes of a soiled diaper.
My fifth Earth Day was the 25th Earth Day that the Earth had ever hosted. This year, I truly became an eco-warrior. Two months after this Earth Day, I went to the beach and stuck a little yellow seashell up my nose and then I went to the hospital where a doctor suctioned out the snot that had encased it within my nasal cavity like a fossil. He then used a fine tool that looked like a noose to drag the seashell out, and it smelled like salt water. My bond with the Earth was now so deeply solidified that we had become, for a few brief hours, of one body.
My eighth Earth Day, I got braces but could not bear to carry the fruits of a titanium mine, that violent, scarring site of extraction, on my face. I did not participate in the celebrations.
My eleventh Earth Day, the braces came off, the clouds cleared, and I was whole once again. I skipped through a field of primroses, fluttering my eyelashes at butterflies emerging from their cocoons and licking sweet, wet droplets off honeysuckle shrubs alongside a family of gentle deer.
My sixteenth Earth Day, I stared at my Bob Marley poster and thought about how he really got it. Why didn’t anyone get it like me and Bob did?
My eighteenth Earth Day, I bought a Colt-45 from the deli on Third Avenue and drank it straight from the bottle, scolding friends whose beer had frothed over the sides of red plastic cups. This was at a fraternity party, which reminded me of Earth Day's founder, Senator Gaylord Nelson, who was inducted into the fraternity Pi Kappa Phi at the age of 54. I was told to leave the party, but I was glad that we all learned something in the process.
My twenty-first Earth Day, I was in a foreign city, where giorno della terra is not really a big holiday. There were no celebrations, but I said a quiet prayer to myself, thanking Mother Earth for blessing the United States with such an environmentally conscious citizenry.
Two Earth Days ago, Kid Rock taught me about consumer sustainability, tweeting, “Recycle motherfuckers. #EarthDay.” I thought to myself that, though I never really understood what it meant, “Bawitdaba” was actually not such a bad song, and it became the soundtrack to that year’s festivites. I hummed it under my breath as I celebrated with a lavender kombucha, a drink I dislike but which I hear does a body good.
This Earth Day, I walked along the sound and looked up at the white-capped mountains and waved to a shiny sea lion popping his head through the waves, and I picked a fat, buttery dandelion growing through a crack in the sidewalk. I could just faintly make out the moon in the bright cobalt sky, and I softly whispered, "Get out of here idiot, today isn't about you for once."
Melissa Cronin is Potluck Magazine's fiction editor, as well as an environmental reporter at Grist and a contributing editor at Gawker. She hopes she will live to see another Earth Day.