There's a tree in my family's backyard behind our fence. It has been there ever since I was a little girl. During my youth, the tree would watch my brother and me as we rolled down its lush hill, clinging to each other like two little slugs. Covered in the grass and up to our ears in itchiness, we felt like Kings. The tree stood by happily.
The tree was there when I attempted to sneak out of the house one summer night. Mom and dad forbade me from seeing my boyfriend at the time, but teenage desire waits for no one. I crawled out of my bedroom window on a mission. I dangled there in total bravery. The tree was facing me, my back to it. He watched my escape plan, and I hoped for my freedom.
The tree has seen many things over the years- some more curious than others; he's tethered to his post.
He was there for every inextricable pain I could have never imagined. When I had my heart broken in New York City three years ago and was begrudgingly dragged back home to Maryland by my parents, I was rooted back into the same place I'd tried to flee. In the wake of my grief, the tree would console me with wisdom. I got lost in a maze.
I'm older now. The tree is still a saint. I'm still listening; all he asks is I remember to look up from time to time. Maybe he's been overlooked too.
His needs are where rich soil hardens, and ladybugs enjoy the shade of his leaves. Or a tiny child finds her way towards him only to prop her feet up on his trunk and name shapes of clouds passing by. So, despite standing alone, he knows the joys of comfort.
He makes friends with all the good neighbors and their far-fetched dreams. He can count on five fingers up to ten better than I can and is unprovoked by change.
He inhales and exhales with the same ease I didn't seek to find as a girl. Today is for the tree, whom it doesn't require much to be grounded, and tomorrow he will remain.