Yesterday, and the day before, I did not drink. I ate things I never eat. I went through the drive through and got a hamburger. I did not do the dishes.
I did drink coffee. I did take a bath. These are things A Julie always does.
I did take a walk ,
BUT chose a path unknown to me. I had several false starts. Dead ends, chain link fences, private backyards.
Finally, I followed a dirt trail by the grotto and wondered where all of the people were.
What if They were all gone? I engaged in a thought experiment. I imagined I was alone in the world. Completely. The last one. What would I do when I finally found another soul? It would be, surely, profound. I COULD imagine that, why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t I pretend to believe it?
A woman jogged by and warned me of an owl stalking lone women this morning.
I did not pretend she was the first woman in my isolated existance in the forest.. I did not run to her and throw my arms about her and weep with relief. Instead I pretended I was a retired nurse who spoke english and was not a border collie, or a wolf or the last person on earth.
I walked up another hill in the woods away from a the lake, still unfamiliar terrain. My breathing deepened and my brow became warm amd moist. Tears ran unaccountably down my face. What IS the difference between madness and enlightenment, genius and deriliction?
I COULD erase the memories, the constructs that try to tell me who I am. The suppositions that bumper and buffer every turn in my life.
Where I was born: The countryside would be new and alive and full of surprises.
My gender, my career, my color: they all made me think a certain way… percieve YOU in a certain way. I could pretend none of it were true. I could at least pretend none of it were important.
I turned around at the crest of the hill and caught my breath. I exhaled long and let it all go. I let all of my past slip down the vertical forest into the soft and thirsty ground and left it there. I turned and faced the other way, unmoving. I looked into my future. It did not look like anything I had ever seen before. It was quiet, brown and bare like Fall, unadorned by leaf, blossom or preconcieved notion. Nothing was wise. Nothing was ridiculous.
I moved forward into that forest, that future knowing deeply that what I saw and felt and touched was only a fraction of what existed there. I could not see what the Border Collie saw, I hadn’t the longsighted vision, or nighthunting eyes of the stalking owl. My pink fleshed fingers were not fashioned to feel the rough bark of the hundred year old Fir tree as the soft squirrel did. He alarmed and ascended the tree as I passed beneath, his belly caressing its stiffness, his tiny claws clutching its grooves as he spiraled up the giant stem, whistling a cautionary stanza.
“I am not like the other girls,” said Alice, and like Alice, I floated down the rabbit hole; I just let go and became smaller like the mouse, bigger like the tree, not myself at all.
For half an hour I was in a waking, walking dream and free now to choose not to experience pain or desire. I was finally free.
I held the thought like a delicate fledgling in my palm as I walked very slowly around the turn back towards the lake. I used my new eyes on the tall trees.
I used my new fingers, testing them on the rough bark, the soft leaf, the sharp thorn.
I saw the sparkling water coming ever closer as the landscaped open to the morning light. I saw the dock jutting out into the water, splashed by whispering waves, blown by a cool wind.
My father, ten years gone, sat with his back to me in a camp chair at the end of the dock. Beneath his favorite tattered hat, his silhouetted long face looked out in front of him, fishing pole pointed at the rising sun.