Yesterday I start with a walk. Partly an attempt to delay writing, and partly to make truthful the claim I did something besides sit in front of the computer all day, I wander down a path I saw on a previous bike ride. The city is full of these forest entrances, slices into quiet green or the right-of-way behind warehouses and car washes, as often full of bikers and dogwalking moms as sunshine and nobody. This one is suburban: more buoyed in quiet, a deeper entry into a country before people nestled amongst throngs of people.
A million years ago when I was five, my parents built their dream house on an Ohio hillside, looking out over the Ohio River into green Kentucky. My mother says I would run away into the woods with the dog. I remember a little, the woods deep and florid in the Eastern fashion. Having been back to Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts since, the woods are a green fixture, but they lack the epochal feel of the West. Even in Seattle the trees exude age. We are temporal interlopers in their spacetime.
I’ve gotten up early to make phone calls, thinking the day rates don’t apply before 7am, and the forest is by itself. I end up wrong about the phone rates, it turns out, but that universe is irrelevant here.
Forest eternity has always been a draw for me. I suffered for it growing up in Texas, where I had no forests, and everything was fences and mowed grass. Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Word for the World Is Forest circulated in my head: though there were no trees the suburban project was the same task of mowing, flattening, normalizing with ascending numbers. The stubble of trees north central Texas could manage seemed hopeless, their autumn leaves turning nothing more exciting than brown.
Max was our dog. He joined the family in middle school and we started walking, long walks up the tar-and-chip neighborhood and county roads. Walking in the now suspended present I realize he never ran around in a real forest. I have the clear thought he would love this place.
Max pops up rarely, at random, as a surprise. I remember watching a silent Super8 movie I shot of him. The projector clatters and somehow images from the early 1980s are on the screen. I watched it with Matt once, in silence. Wow, Matt said. Look at that.
I try not to be blind to things, but we all become blind. You have to really shake yourself up to see again, and then the past can come through cleanly without regret. You can be in two places at once and not fear falling.