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    The Most Likely Ways I Will Die in the Hudson Valley


    I have lived in New York City for nearly a decade, which means that I now spend every free minute I can in the Hudson Valley. Although many of my family members who live a thousand miles away are sure that I will be murdered in N.Y.C., I know they are wrong—I am much more likely to die upstate. Here are my theories on how.

    Poisoned

    When I am in the Hudson Valley, I feel so much more attuned to the natural world, partly because I am able to forage. Sure, technically there are edible plants in Brooklyn, but I would never actually eat them because they are sixty per cent heavy metal and twenty per cent dog pee. Just a couple hours north of the city, however, you can walk into the woods, spot a bloom of yellow on a rotting log, take out your pocketknife, and harvest your own mushrooms to take home and eat. Since my only real mushroom-foraging knowledge comes from watching one YouTube video, not only will I poison myself and die but I probably won’t even cook the mushrooms well beforehand.

    Driving Off the Side of a Mountain

    In New York City, cars are ornamental things that people buy in order to have something to move to the other side of the street a couple times a week. In the Hudson Valley, they are for actually navigating difficult terrain. I know this because my upstate lover is always bragging about the difficult terrain he can traverse in his truck, which is not, in fact, a truck but rather a large car. To show off what the “truck” can do, my lover sometimes pulls onto a service road that goes straight up a mountain with steep drop-offs on either side. When I went on a first date with this man, two hours outside of the city, many people told me that I would be murdered by him, but they were wrong. I will, in fact, die when his truck falls off a mountain into the Hudson River. But—the views!

    Taking a Selfie on the Edge of a Waterfall

    And getting hit by someone falling off the waterfall, also trying to take a selfie, but from the top for some reason. You can’t even see the waterfall from the top! Why did this person climb past protective barriers to take a photo that doesn’t even show anything good? My body breaks their fall, and they live.

    Amtrak Derailment

    While I’m on the train, clapping because I saw a bald eagle.

    Amtrak Derailment

    While I’m drinking funky orange wine on the banks of the Hudson, at a secret spot I found after driving down a pitted-out gravel road, past a sign that says “DO NOT ENTER—AMTRAK USE ONLY.” The last thing I will see will be a bald eagle.

    Murdered by Malcolm Gladwell

    I don’t think I’ve done anything to cross Malcolm Gladwell. But he lives up here, so . . . the odds are just that much higher.

    Getting Shot

    By a hunter, because I forgot that hunting season had opened, and I was trying to pet a deer.

    Giardia

    My lover drinks exclusively water he collects from a local spring. Sound charming? That’s what the parasites want you to think.

    Falling From the Top of a Fire Tower

    There are fire towers on peaks all over the Hudson Valley. They were built in the early twentieth century, in order to make it easier to spot fires, so that residents could all get a good look at the fire, just as something to do to pass the time (there are no Broadway shows in the Hudson Valley). I will die by climbing up a fire tower and—even though the winds are blowing, like, sixty miles per hour up there—letting go of the railing to try to take a photo.

    Getting Bitten by a Poisonous Snake

    While trying to pet it.

    Lyme Disease

    Ticks are a big problem in the Hudson Valley. Whenever I remove a tick, I put it in a glass jar. That way, if I start feeling ill, I can mail the tick to Anthony Fauci for him to test it and diagnose me. Unfortunately, I lose the glass jar when my Amtrak train derails, then get Lyme disease and die.

    Tomato-Shock Syndrome

    Celebrities such as Tom Brady and Alicia Silverstone refuse to eat tomatoes because they believe that they are bad for the human body, for reasons I do not care to understand. However, from May until late October, tomatoes are the only thing I eat in the Hudson Valley, because my lover’s garden produces five a day. You can’t give away the tomatoes, because everyone else in the Hudson Valley is also growing tomato plants. If Tom Brady is right, eventually I will die of tomato-shock syndrome. And has Tom Brady ever been wrong?!

    Accidentally Shoot Myself in the Foot

    While posing with my lover’s hunting rifle, to take a photo that I can put on Instagram with the caption “Goodbye, Earl.” The shooting myself in the foot is not actually fatal, but I later die from an infection after refusing to go to the local hospital, where I know they will think I am a “cidiot” (city idiot).

    Stampede of Brooklyn Ladies

    Because we’re all mobbing a farmers’ market trying to buy apple-cider doughnuts on the first day of fall, even though it’s still ninety degrees outside.

    Cut Myself in Half with an Axe

    While chopping wood for my lover’s woodstove. I insist on chopping the wood because I believe chopping wood makes me look strong and sexy, even if, according to my lover, I’m doing it wrong.

    House Fire

    Started when my lover got tired of waiting for the contractors to install the final piece of the woodstove and decided he could weld it himself because he “went to art school—twice.”

    Drowning

    I’ll be standing on the banks of a secret swimming hole, too scared to jump in. I’ll creep out to the edge, back up a little, return to the edge, and back up again. I’ll remind myself that it’s summer, I’m young, I’m in one of the most beautiful areas of the country, I’m at a secret spot with a hot guy—it’s like I’m in a movie. When I’m old, won’t I want to have a memory of jumping in? I turn around to actually do it this time, slip, hit my head, and drown. Almost immediately, a bunch of people on A.T.V.s with Bluetooth speakers and open beers pull up, push my body out of the way, and start swimming.

    Organs Explode from Drinking Too Much Seltzer

    Technically, this is not Hudson Valley-specific, but it needs to be mentioned, as it is, statistically, my most likely cause of death.

    Old House Collapses on Me

    The house is full of rotting wood, moldy drywall, and cobwebs. Parts of the roof are missing. There’s a family of raccoons living in the crawl space, and a tree growing in the old fireplace. The whole thing is held together by a single nail. But I spent my life’s savings on it because it was the one place in the Hudson Valley I could afford. ♦

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