Last week I was walking with the dogs on the path. It was one of those warm spring-like days. The woods were noisy with birds and chipmunks and squirrels and Frieda was on the alert. Her ears were up, her head was pivoting and she was pulling on the leash. I realized then, that when Jon said I liked when Frieda ran off into the woods, he was right. I could never quite admit it before. It seemed irresponsible and unloving to want Frieda to take off for hours chasing animals and sometimes catching them, risking getting hurt or possibly never coming back. And as much as I worry about her and get angry when she does run off, when she’s 10 feet away from me and doesn’t listen to my calls, there’s also a part of me that loves it.
When Frieda runs off, she turns into something wild. She’s the stealthy tiger, no longer a pet. She disappears into woods. She becomes the woods. If I do chase her and get a glimpse of her, it’s just flickers of movement, like an apparition coming in and out of focus, her direction impossible to predict. She seems to be in a trance, and only acknowledges me if I’m less than a foot away, looking at me as if I’m a memory. Eventually, she always comes back, exhausted and confused as if she traveled further than just into the woods for a couple of hours.
I love when Frieda runs off because it speaks to the wild within me. Frieda is the connection to a part of myself that pulls at me but seems unreachable. Something deep inside me, inside all of us, that makes me want to lie down in the ferns and become a part of the soil. I want to hunt and gather my own food and sleep inside a hollow tree. I want to survive in the wild and know I can do it. To know I’m just a tiny part of something so much bigger than myself. I think this is what the wild in us does, it lets us know that we belong, that we really are connected to each other and the animals and the earth. That this is our community.
I want to know that part of me. To touch it and feel it and live it. And then, like Frieda, I want to be able to come home. To good food and a warm bed and a loving man.