When I was a child, I lived with my father and stepmother in a small, three bedroom ranch. There was a wooded area in the back, that stretched right up against the back of the shopping center near our home. There was a drainage creek that ran along the edge, along our back yard.

I spent a lot of time there in that little forest and creek. I pretended I was a survivalist, living off the land like the characters in the books My Side of the Mountain, The Hatchet, and Julie of the Wolves. I stole a steak knife from the house to strip sticks of their bark, so I could make arrows for my flimsy self-made bow. I considered building a small shack of bricks of sod, like the home in the Little House on the Prairie series. I never did it, as anything I made and stashed out in the woods disappeared, likely at the hands of some nosy righteous neighbor.

I was happy out there, playing in the woods by myself. For a little while, I could just be me, and not anyone else. No one to berate me or to resent my very existence. I vowed that when I turned 18, I would move to Canada and live in the wilderness.

Obviously I didn’t. But now, at 31, I kind of wish I had.

But could I have? A man could presumably live this way, but probably not me. Too small, too weak, too female. Would I miss the presence of other people? I don’t know. I don’t think that I would, but I might.

How can I regain that feeling, of total seclusion, peace, and purpose? Finding my own little secret copse of trees is downright impossible. I live in a suburb with only a postage stamp of land to my name. There is no place to be silent, not my house, not my land. No place to simply be. Everywhere I turn there are eyes upon me, words demanding some sort of token response. Wanting something from me that I can’t give.

I want to walk into the forest and stay there a while. Until I feel like myself again.


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