The island is shaped like Neverland. It is protected - by water and winds, and only ferries can bring you to it. The ocean is alive with orcas, purple starfish, and glowing algae. The forest still has its wildness, it hasn’t been taken. And there is no body else - it is winter and a stillness is coating everything. The lakes are perfect mirrors, never a ripple or a drop. The trees are holding the silence; they are holding their leaves back in suspense. The only sounds for miles are my boots and my breath. And I can fall asleep on the ground and be safe where no one can wake me. And I can sing out loud and be safe because no one can hear. And I can shed my clothes and be safe because only the ravens will see me, with clumps of moss in both fists, pine needles prick on the skin, and wet fog goosebumps.

My eyelashes grow heavy with mist.

It's dusk. I can hear the sea lions on the beach bellowing from their animal throats, and the roars are coming through the trees. I am following the deer with their tip-toeing hooves that never sink in the mud. I am sinking, down the path that is lined with white feathers. The white feathers slowly turn to bones, which lead me to the tree. The tree with spines tangled into its roots. Circled by dead maple leaves that cover teeth and claws and other things that grew out of animals…

 

Lately I've been leaving my camera behind, although I feel naked without it, and I go into the city with my trusty "Free Listening" sign. And I listen to lots of people's hidden things, and many of them are sweet and happy and strange. But there are so many heartbreak stories, coming from wounded mouths that have either felt one kiss too many or one kiss too few. 

I want to know the people who walk past me on the street, and I don't want to shy away from the hard things.  But there is so much hopeless, homeless, sadness, and that stuff sits heavy inside the ribcage, making a slow drip drip drip feeling. I go to the homeless shelter and look people in the eyes, and many of them feel like haunted houses. I am earnest and I listen to everyone, to whatever they want to talk about, but I am very small and I don't always know what to say. So I give long hugs and wish for bigger arms that could fit more people inside of them. I hug the broken man with tasers hidden up his sleeves because I know he has them just because he is scared. 

And I walk all day, my backpack filled with sunflower seeds and the jar of good things, and the jar of bad things, and pens and papers and empty film canisters. My shoelaces broke. I walked them apart. I tried to tie them in strange ways, with wonky knots which eventually broke as well, so I carried on in floppy boots. The night sets in and out come the shadows. Dirty men in spotless cars who assume I am a prostitute just because I walk alone. They follow me down the street, as my fingernails press little crescent marks into my palms. I walk past a boy with a soggy sign that says, "I want real kindness, not that fake shit." It rains. I cry. Then I dance. With my headphones on I dance for the same reason I am crying. I let the city eyes from the high windows watch me. I take off my jacket because cold is a nice compliment for sadness and when I finally warm up the sadness and the shivers can be shed together. Crying, dancing, and freezing are my reset button. I sleep, then go back again the next day, and I listen some more.

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 Not all my adventures include finding secret lands and crazy characters - some of them are very simple, and they leave me crying in the rain. I believe that traveling and adventuring is mostly about looking at a place with new eyes, and for that, you don't even need to move.  

*Me and Kelsey were out playing in the forest and just after we put on our fern crowns we found a wolf pack to play with ~ Photographs from August in Olympia, WA* 

These photos are about the forest, which has given me so much. I never knew what moss meant, I never knew what emerald felt like, until I found it. The forest is the most beautiful, lonely place. It will sting you with its nettles, it will feed you the sweetest blackberries, its thorns will write red lines across your thighs, and it will give you the softest moss naps. Some of the trees have sad faces painted on their bark. Some of the trees have tiny Buddha statues hidden in their nooks.  There are plant roots that taste like licorice, banana slugs making glittery paths, and sword ferns that fold into perfect crowns. 

Most of the forest will never fit into photographs, and neither will my favorite memories. So here are some tiny scrapbook thoughts, which I will read again one day when I am in the city and I will remember the the quiet things, which are so important: 

~ In the indian summer, when the nights are warm, the most magic of all magic: When the algae on the beach becomes phosphorescent and glows electric blue when it is activated by motion. Every footstep you take in the wet sand leaves a glowing footprint. And when you take off all your clothes and go swimming in the glacier water, you turn into a god floating in a glowing cloud, swimming around leaving an electric wake, drawing light trails with your hands.  

~ The time I fell asleep by the creek reading "The Book of Chameleons". I woke up with to a chipmunk sitting on my belly. When I opened my eyes and we startled one another so badly, I nearly flung my book into the water and he dropped his half nibbled little seed. 

~ The rope swing across the ravine. The tree houses in the swamp. The Wishing Tree with the rainbow bicycle bell that you must ring from the highest branch. The Watch Tower on the hill with the beaded hammock. The Leopard Nap Tree, a Madrone with soft red bark. 

~ Wandering around in the forest at night. Trusting my feet to find the way in the blackness, finding roots that glowed a soft green light as they decomposed. 

~ In those trees Duckie taught me how to make fire with tinder sticks, how to twist bark into cordage then into rope, and how to make a nest of leaves that can keep you warm through the night. 

~ When I hung my earrings from a mushroom and slept in a bed of pine duff. In between my dreams I listened to the unknown night animals, calling from high in the trees, making sounds like wolves, monkeys, and parrots all at once.  

~ On my birthday, when I made everyone walk through the trees with candles. The flickering light made us terribly lost -which was exactly what I wished would happen- and we spent the night tromping around in circles, laughing. 

~ When I found many shards of white pottery - from what seemed like 30 different sets of dishes - and I arranged them into spirals in the moss. 

~ The boy who sang me all the words to all my favorite songs as we wander lost in the moonlight.