going wild

My friend E says that I am starting to look feral. Sometimes, when she sees me on the steps, barefooted, with my hair unbrushed and messy, wearing the same clothes I wore the day before, she tilts her head back and says, “Wild child,” before asking for a cigarette or a light.


I go every other day to a lake in Oakland to climb trees until my fingers are too cold to grip the branches. On Wednesday I almost fell out of one. I was quite high up — maybe forty feet — and I slipped. I caught myself, but bruised all of the ribs on my right side, and scraped my arms. It was such a Pollyanna moment — I had a curiously unafraid flash of what my life would be like as a paraplegic. I wouldn’t have fallen if I had been barefoot, but my shoes are so good that I am often unwilling to leave them at the bottoms of trees. Perhaps I should collect a pocket full of stones to throw down at anyone who might try to steal them.

I like how invisible you become the instant you physically lift yourself above the rest of the world. Only children notice me regularly. Children and geriatrics. Everyone else is too caught in their minds and their problems to look up.

Tonight I went late to the lake — almost midnight — and climbed one of the easy trees. I realized that, though there were people, there were no women walking or jogging alone. Probably I should be afraid, or at least cautious, when it comes to things like climbing trees in Oakland alone at midnight, but I never am — it’s only something that occurs to me after I have already started to do something rather stupid or dangerous. I have forgotten how to be afraid of the things that should scare me. I don’t fear rapists or car accidents or illness or money problems or anything at all that has to do with practical life. Things that do scare me: being in a car with someone and not knowing what to say; open drawers, cabinets, and closets; the possibility that I will fall asleep and never wake up; light when it is so harsh and bright that I can almost hear it screaming in my head when I look at it; insects that get in my hair; having over three hundred prescription pills in my room on any given day; accidentally stepping on worms or ants; losing my notebooks; forgetting; being with people; being without people.

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~ by Not Alice on March 24, 2007.

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