Published in Westwords, Winter 2014
I was never really that lost…
not the ‘holy shit, I’m never going to get out of here’ lost;
not the ‘someday they’ll find my bleached bones lying here in the woods’ lost;
…but lost enough.
Lost enough to think, ‘what was I thinking?’
Lost enough to wonder how long it would take me to find my way back.
Lost enough to notice that I was pushing forward somewhat blindly — trying to get somewhere, anywhere — rather than carefully choosing a route.
Lost enough to detect a subtle undercurrent of panic.
I was in a forest of alder and willow, wending my way through a complex maze of animal tracks and dry streambeds, trying to find a way through to the ocean but running into one impenetrable thicket after another — mostly blackberry, stinging nettle, and poison oak, all plants that say, ‘proceed with caution.’
And although I was actually never very far from the trail, I felt lost.
Lost enough to notice how accustomed I am to knowing where I am—or at least thinking I know.
Lost enough to feel my heart leap with joy when I heard human voices nearby.
Lost enough to experience a flood of relief when I finally felt the packed dirt of the trail under my feet again—for once, happy to find myself on the well-worn track, on the path more traveled.