Sometimes, when I am in a car, driving or in the passenger seat, going by a deciduous forest of maple and pine, poplar and fir, I can see, below the lowest branches, rushing through the lush ferns another me. She leaps over fallen trees, using their mossy trunks as leverage to vault over boulders. She wears a simple pair of jean shorts that are frayed and worn, a black tank top. Brown hair streaming out behind her, catching on the occasional twig as she runs has a string of crow feathers tied in it. Sometimes when she shows herself, she is as pale and as white as me, luminous in the soft green, other times, she is the golden soft bronze of someone living out of doors.
She is free and unfettered from the shackles of modern life, the worries of mental health and economic crisis. She spends her days in the forest, calling to the birds, drinking from the streams, sitting so, so still until the animals come to her hand. There is no need for speech, for words. The forest has it's own language and she speaks it. At night she finds the old, trample-down beds of deer and curls up in the sweet-smelling grasses.
I go looking for her sometimes, not just on the roadside, where she runs beside the car. I look for her in the secret, special places, the hidden places, untouched, green, alive. I run my fingers over the ferns and breathe deeply of air that smells so fully of life that it seems on exhale all that is toxic and bad in the world leaves my body. I look for the deer beds, travel to the places the ravens and crows roost, drink from the springs. When I leave the forest I am always alone, and when I must go back to civilization, I must leave her behind.
Today I had an epiphany, as I watched her run alongside the car until the forest ran out. For any man that would love me:
I am a flight risk. I am already half gone.