Tree vs Face - Friday, Feb. 10, 2023
Monday, Jan. 16, 2023 @ 11:30 am
“He’s definitely going to ask you out,” Russell speculates.
“No, he’s too old for that,” I respond.
“I assure you that he’s not,” he says.
On Saturday afternoon, I noticed a break in the rainy weather. Sunlight filtered through the clouds, and steam rose from the forest, the temperature unseasonably warm for January. I changed into my biking clothes and carried my mountain bike down through the elevator.
I rode from my apartment into the forest. I will never tire of living here, at the boundary between the city and the wild, dense forest. Growing up here, I was warned to never go into the forest alone. People were found dead in the forest. Women, mostly, but also a grim tale from days of yore of the Babes in the Woods, the skulls of two small boys found buried in the forest. Their exhausted mother, poor and desperate in 1948, used a hatchet to try to improve her life.
So when I moved here, I didn’t go into the woods alone. But then, over time, I began to explore the trails, working my way more deeply into the forest as my confidence grew. I began to wander off trail, an exciting thrill to follow a faint track through the bush. Sometimes, I’d discover the camp of a vagrant, usually an older man hard on his luck, introverted and from a town up north. Other times, I’d find an oracle, a curious altar, a Wiccan sculpture of branches and stones, perhaps a labyrinthe. Once I noticed bicycle tire tracks in a patch of mud and followed them through the maze of cedar and fir.
On Saturday, I rode one of those trails and came upon a man riding the other way on a mountain bike. I yielded to his uphill progress, as is custom. He pauses, appearing similarly unaccustomed to encountering another on this hidden path.
We talk for a moment, not giving too much away, but there’s a sense of kinship beneath the protective reticence.
Fifteen minutes later, we cross paths again on another trail. We laugh, as we are doing the same loop but in reverse. We talk some more, and he seems trustworthy enough. Relatable and probably, like me, staving off anxiety through exercise and fresh air.
In the evening, I discover that he’s found me through social media and sent me a request to connect. It’s not hard; I don’t make much effort to hide myself.
“You were right. He’s already asked me to go for a trail ride with him.”
“Of course he did.”