Let’s face it: I’m the last person you’d expect to find in a city. I walk around the streets wearing a torn up shirt from the 8th grade (I’m in my 20s now), a pair of three-time hand-me-down German camo pants and a baseball cap. I don’t even bother trying to hide it. What point is there? When I put the dog on a leash there’s this part of me that shuts down. I don’t have to think anymore, not really, I just have to focus on this one thing. I found a hidden ravine that was several miles in length and connected to some nearby parks.
The few people I saw were rude and standoffish, the sort that grimace at you when you walk by. So I grinned in return. It’s only been two days and I am already stir-crazy. Being locked up in a house in suburbia with three hunting dogs with a backyard the size of my living room isn’t all that pleasant. They’re all too cramped, leaping over one another and fighting for space on the couch. If I sit in the chair they all end up trying to clamber into it with me.
Surprisingly, I had more trouble with one of the people here than the dogs. The dogs go away if you tell them to; people don’t take a hint. Today was different however, and trouble decided to change her tune for some reason, so it was better.
I walked and walked. The more I walked, the more overgrown it became, and the better I started to feel. It was a very literal release. I hadn’t realized how badly I needed it until the poison was truly purged. It was the good sort of physical hurt that brings with it a sense of relief. The worst is over, it says. I felt clean and like myself again. I can’t live in this sort of place where I look out the bathroom window straight into someone else’s house that’s only 10 feet away. I need space and trees and animals and shitty, potholed dirt roads and AWD cars and redneck trucks and rivers and lakes.
I did go to a river here, and caught some fish. We took a boat to a deserted runoff and sat for a few hours, lazily fishing in the hot sun. I forget how pale I am until I am out in the sun. Even with a hat, my whole face has taken on a reddish hue. My dog with his thin fur and pink skin isn’t much better off. Apparently I’m supposed to put sunscreen on him, someone told me. You put sunscreen on dogs? Truly? Where was I when this became a thing?
I’m paler than a vampire’s ass and I don’t even wear the shit. But if my face is anything to go by, I’m going to have to start again. My own breath is slightly painful because of its warmth. Pathetic. I’m also terribly allergic to dogs (I just typed ‘gods’ twice, oh, the irony!) so I’m more or less a full-time mouth-breather with sniffles, because somehow your nose can be stuffed and runny at the same time.
I’m just glad I found a little haven. I have a monster’s retreat now, and suddenly everything is much brighter and easier to handle. It’s okay if my dog shits on their carpet and destroyed on of their rugs; I can walk out the door at anytime I don’t want to deal with people and go where it is familiar and comforting. Because yes, there indeed is comfort to be found in shaded little hideaways down by the river that hide you from the prying eyes of the city. I may still hear the cars and the screaming human beings, but I am far away enough that I am not to be touched by them. Some things are sacred and will never be ruined for me.