It wasn’t in the outfit I chose for myself each day before going to work, and it wasn’t in the mirror or the photographs on our walls at home. I lost track of where it went and sometimes wondered if I was a ghost. I caught myself in car windows and glass doors passing through, but couldn’t remember what I looked like after.
So I went to the outdoors to remember. There was something in a Jack London story that told me to go, the final confrontation. A man and his dog, the wilderness, taking everything away to get right down to it.
The roads were icy before dawn and a fresh crust of snow, the moon out, cold. We travelled for hours up and down small canyons, along a ridge, headed south. I used a peak to the southeast as a handrail, to stay on route. We were looking for a tree I read about, a very large tree.
They call this area the desert steppe, which is not a true desert but almost, as measured by the amount of precipitation it gets and what grows there. So a tree is rather unusual amid the sage brush, and by this tree is a lonesome camp, near an abandoned school house. They call it Birdsong Camp, but last time I was here there were no birds, only coyotes, so close I had to curl up inside myself and pretend I was invisible.
I came out here to find myself because the clothes in my closet and the pictures in my house started to smother me.
The dog doesn’t have a name and neither does the man, they could be anyone. The dog dreams the dream of ancient dogs, the same tape from the start of time. We wonder how they know what to do, we call it instinct, and forget we have it too.