A Tree, In Two Parts
From Lover, Mother, Seeker, Sage.
I’ve never been much of a nature girl, but love found me underneath a tree.
His name was Billy. The boy, not the tree.
The one before him, a short French-Italian boy with an impressive nose, never made it this far, for a reason I would only find out many years later. I just didn’t have the right parts for him.
All my parts were perfectly acceptable to Billy.
Over the spring and summer before college, we escaped to our wooded oasis, away from the overly interested eyes of our mothers. His crystal blue eyes were as relentless as the sun on my body. He would have drunk me if he could.
Our tree chaperoned picnics, rock concerts, and clumsy but well intentioned lovemaking.
He was a musician, you see. Not only did he play the bass guitar in a rock band (the hottest thing ever!), but also the stand-up bass in a symphony.
I couldn’t help imagine the tickle and strum of his fingers as he played his instrument. His slender frame would sway, and he would toss his long black hair into and out of his eyes, over and over.
I adored him.
It was impossible, admittedly, with his mother praying for his salvation, and my mother scaring God straight out of me. We hid, we snuck, we lied, to make our way to the anointed tree.
The world seemed capable of holding our dreams only in the expanse of the damp grass at the arboretum. It was like being transported from one world — of rules and screaming — to another — of freedom and pleasure. It was where I first understood that rare air others call safety.
My mother climbed trees in her youth, I was told. To escape the tyranny of a motherless house. It would never cross my mind to climb a tree. For what? A better view? No thank you.
It was long past the time when that pursuit was deemed socially acceptable that it dawned on me.
It wasn’t about the view. It was about the escape. To somewhere where no one could get you. To freedom in the small numbers of minutes before the screaming and demands would begin again.
My heart began to understand what would take my mind another decade to decipher. To find both love and shelter in the same place was extraordinary. To dream into the treetops and be held by the earth was a singularly precious experience. To find your way, along rough bark, fragile branches and unpredictable rustling from critter or breeze, required a faith deeper than any redwood’s roots.
I see that girl, with a sun-chapped face and a braid almost to the ground, perched in the crook of a tree waiting for life to begin.
Me, I choose to stay on the ground and look up.
This essay is part of the upcoming compilation — Lover, Mother, Seeker, Sage by Pascale Kavanagh.
I’ve drawn my inspiration from the many flavors of my life experience. Once a sad, shy girl, I’ve also been an MIT-educated engineer, biotech executive, professional dancer, yoga teacher and business owner, school founder, spiritual counselor, and entrepreneur.
These days, my favorite titles are author, mother, and hot stuff.
And I own a magic wand that I’m certain will work one day.