I feel like this sometimes: weathered, thin, dry, wordless, waiting at the side of a road. I could take a lift or could just keep standing, swaying from the shoosh-shoosh-shoosh of cars slamming by, throttling waves of wind. I squint a little but remain as I have remained for a long time, waiting. Slightly bowed to ricochet the gusts. Silent, stalwart, abiding. Boots dusty. Hands pocketed. Not young anymore, not old yet. Bag of scant belongings slung over a shoulder. This bag and I will travel anywhere. We’ve traveled farther than we ever dreamed. But for now we’re standing, just standing here, because for once it’s clear there’s nowhere to go. Nowhere to run to. Wherever I’d run I would still have what’s in me right now, which is the feeling that whatever the world does I’m just going to quietly abide.
A lot has happened. Some of it I’ve swallowed and some I’ve digested but a lot is still rolling around in my mouth or backed up in my gut because it takes a while to turn what happens to you into some kind of nourishment.
I’m feeling the slam-by of cars but I’m not looking at them. I’m looking at the trees. Half a sky full of green, swaying but rooted deep. I understand them. Green, alive, unjudging, keeping on in one spot while the world hurtles past. I study a four-story pine with wayward branches at the top and a mess of birds coming and going. Who planted that pine, when? How long did it take to rise to that colossal height? In its shadow is a redwood, dwarfed by the pine, scrawny and ragged for such a grand species. It isn’t made to live on the flank of a road.
My life’s been a series of rides to unknown destinations on roads I’ve hardly noticed. I could stick out my thumb and get in any rig that stops. I’ve done that over and over. I could do it again. But instead I do this. I pull up roots from beside the road. Walk away from the noise and dust. Go into the cool moist forest where my boots crunch on twigs and leaves. Breathe in pine, redwood, bay, dark wet dirt. Sigh down at the base of a wide old trunk. Shrug off my bag. Drop what I’m supposed to be. Lie down on the soft sweet-smelling bed. Plant myself there. Rest my eyes on a spectacular web of branches and a limitless sky that expects nothing. Let myself be a kid with no need to run. Held. Sheltered. Home.