Trees seem to be involved in a whole lot of forced capitalism
The very large oak tree sits directly outside my front door. I watch the tree from my newly acquired blow-up air mattress I bought at the Dollar General store for a paltry twenty dollars. The mattress not only serves as a vantage point from which I sit to watch the birds, paint, write, sometimes sleep very comfortably; but it also is a source of great economic pride — some small proof that I have carried down the values learned from my grandparents’ parents who lived during the Great Depression.
The tree is not the pin oak tree that sits in the middle of the driveway, hanging its branches over my car that has been parked in the same spot for the year I’ve lived here. But this very large oak tree sits in the middle of the front yard and is like most very large oak trees — strong, thick, with two torsos, bolder than the house, proudly standing with its arms stretched up toward the sky to make the angles that serve best for birds nests.
In my imagination it is an island into itself, Oak Tree Island. And the grass that stretches from my front porch to the base of the tree is the Green Sea. I sit and watch the birds fly in and out of port and I imagine the complicated life at Oak Tree Island like New York City during the Industrial Revolution. Except, where there would be smoke as you look from far away, there is none. Just the rising and falling of a well tuned, city symphony.
I often envy the inhabitants of Oak Tree Island who have the luxury of going about their day without trying to figure out the meaning of their existence, or what they’re supposed to do next. They just do what they have to do is all. Sometimes, I think that if only I could go there, too, in that world instead of this one, then I’d have the weight of humankind lifted immediately. But, in this world I feel like an unwelcome guest who can only long to be there from afar.
Lately I’ve been thinking less about what I’m supposed to do next and more about how to become accepted into Oak Tree Island. In that world, I imagine, it’s as close as anything to what it’s like when I dream, where flying by sheer will isn’t an impossibility.
There was one other time in my life when doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was kept home from school for a month when I was thirteen years old. Today, I am 39. I have lived twice longer since then. I wonder what number of significance will present itself next. My memories seem to have been planned by someone else in advance. There seems to be some new small coincidence that emerges from the past into the present with each passing day. I don’t hold any special meaning in any particular thing, fact, datum, memory, feeling. But, connections are there, almost showing themselves as obvious as the sun is up in the morning.
For example, I recently found out from the crazy neighbor who stalks me in the middle of the night that there is a dried-up well that is very deep beyond the barn. I’m told to be careful. But, I can’t help but think of the fact that I recently read a book that features an abandoned well as a portal into another world. But, I think these all are things that most humans think about, too. Or we wouldn’t all, so many of us, have the same thoughts. I’m not sure what that means.
I remember when I stayed home for that month at thirteen it was during the fall, because my friends all came to visit me for Halloween. I remember how special that made me feel, to have visitors. I always loved Halloween and that year I didn’t dress up in any costume that I can remember, but I do remember a visit from my friends, who came in to surprise me while I was listening to the world from the living room couch, greatly missing school every day now for close to a month.
It began with a diagnosis of the mumps, and ended over Christmas break when they peeled my ear back and removed the growths in my lymph nodes. I already had my hair cut and styled as closely as I could to my favorite boy-band member, so they did not need to shave my head.
Looking back, I wonder if my friends came on their own volition or if my grandmother asked them to visit. I have been thinking about my grandmother a lot since my grandfather passed away.
The dead thorny vine I found on the carpet was treacherously close to, if not under, my beloved air mattress. I have no memory of bringing the vine into the house, much less to the carpet, and too close to the air mattress. But, it reminds me suddenly that I really have very little control over the events around me. So, really all I can do is to remove the thorny branch and be more careful about what I let attach itself to me, and bring into my home.
The robins will come and stand on the edge of the field, where the circular driveway meets the field of pine trees that have grown from seed. The previous pines were harvested two years ago and, I’m told, brought a sizable yield. The man who owns the land lives next door. He says they used the money to pay for his father’s (or was it his mother’s ?) medical bills. There’s something odd to me about that circle of life with the trees. Trees seem to be involved in a whole lot of forced capitalism.
I once saw a robin stand on the edge of this field for nearly an hour. Or so it seemed. I did not look at a watch, and I don’t think he did either. I had the thought today that if I live to be some significant number of years longer, that I will retire myself into a Buddhist monastery in France. I wonder if the robin thinks about things like that?
I guess I noticed the changes in me when I was home for my grandfather’s funeral. I keep hearing from everyone, the bank teller, the doctor, my friends and family, ‘Stress will do a lot to you.’ Every single time, even though I know they are good intentioned, they’ve no idea the stress I’ve already lived through. I’m my most happy now, strictly speaking. I’m fairly content, on the whole. A white girl with an ethnic last name in the greatest country on earth? Stress knows no bounds already, please and thank you. But, sure, I’ll go with them there. It seems to be very important to them to have an answer. It just sort of sucks, though, the inherent notion I internalize with this answer, that I simply have just had too much of stress and I cannot take anymore of it — it just seems a bit off, as if i don’t live in my own shell of a body, or haven’t for the past thirty-nine years. Or have I? Maybe they all know something I don’t. So, sure, let them be right. Let it be the culmination of shock that has manifested itself to make my body crazy. That would be a relief.
I am working now on a ‘jumbo coloring book’ page of Rio de Janero. There are row houses across now in many bright colors with marker. Also two cars, two mountains, and, of course, Christ the Redeemer. I have never been to Brazil. I have never had a passport. No need. How would I get anywhere else there where I’ve landed already? I did once study about the phenomenon of telenovelas in Brazil. I think I read that once some great dignitary was on his way in during a finale of one of the favorite telenovelas and no one even gave him any mind. No news. No fan fare at the airport. It was as if he was just another tourist, coming for a visit.
I dreamed of Santa Fe last night. Or was it this morning? It was overcast and raining. Here this morning, not in the dream. I woke for the second time today at 10am. I think it was then I dreamed of walking around the plaza in Santa Fe. I remember searching for something important, but that’s all I remember for now.
I have been only to a few places in the United States. So far, I think I most like Santa Fe, New Mexico. I am told that my great-grandmother sold wares along the Palace of the Governors in the plaza. Only Natives are allowed this access, I’m told. While I was in Tennessee for my grandfather’s funeral, I visited my father’s mother. Her husband was from New Mexico. She told me his grandmother’s tribe, but I’ve already forgotten. Or did she tell me at all? I know my dad doesn’t know. And I don’t think he has any interest to remember much of his father at all, so probably never will.
Jimmy makes me laughed in just the ordinary things he does. The other day he said, “I just coughed a cardinal away.” He did do that — cough a cardinal away. But, there’s something about saying it out loud that really tickles me. I think it’s because of how I think words and visuals play funny together. Or maybe it’s just that the little reminders of this world when I’m not ready to acknowledge them are nothing short of comical.