Grizzly Country

I remember things on my evening walk home. Work, the tourists, the bright fluorescents of the lobby, my work, the people from everywhere.

 

There is something about walking home alone on a new moon that makes you remember. The pit growing in my stomach is like a crater on the moon as I weave my way through the aspen and pine trees. I always forget a light. The stars hardly lend their glow to the dark earth.

 

This is grizzly country. There are zero accounts of a fatal bear attack in Grand Teton National Park. If a bear approaches you, make noise and wave your hands. Stand your ground. If you remembered bear spray, flick off the glow in the dark safety latch and spray towards the bear, the idea here is to create a wall. If the bear attacks, play dead. If a bear is stalking you and then attacks, fight back. If a bear attacks your tent, fight back.

 

I saw a grizzly once. It was my first summer out West and I took my jacket off for the first time in late May. My arm hairs prickled underneath the back handed sun. I rowed my kayak lazily, dipping my oars in a porridge so thick with glacial blue, the oars seemed to drag and stick. I thought about my new Facebook profile picture and stared blankly at cool water pressing against the impossibly infinite pines. Suddenly I felt like I was looking at my skull peaking out from underneath my bangs, that time I fell two stories in a construction site and didn’t feel any pain. The unbelief, the adrenaline, the calm of things unfolding. We locked eyes. Me and the mama bear, realizing one another’s existence, while her three cubs chased each other in the shallows. Her dark, muscular body and eyes like pits. Her presence. I have never felt like earth was not my home until I locked eyes with this animal and watched the way her body met the dappled trees.

 

I always forget a light, and my feet are clumsy through the fallen trees. I remember there was a fire here before I was born.

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