“More than anything God loves admiration.”
“Are you saying God is vain?”
“Nah, no not vain, just wanting to share a good thing. I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.”
“You sayin’ it just want to be loved like it say in the Bible?”
“Ya Celie. Everything want to be loved. Us sing and dance and holler just trying to be loved.”
“Look at them trees. Ever notice how trees do everything to get attention that we do ‘cept walk?”
~ Alice Walker, The Color Purple
I notice. I notice everything whether I want to or not. And I feel compelled to write it down, take pictures with my mind’s eye and sometimes my camera. This moment is never going to be the same again. Someone has to see it, feel it, experience it. I take it further and I archive. It’s what I do. Part of me wants to share everything with the world, but it is more selfish than that. I am so afraid of forgetting.
I love the pure tenacity of dandelions growing in the cracks of sidewalks. Cosmos pushing through the gravel and trash in empty lots. Ivy climbing up old bricks trying to find the sky. The tree that grows out of the concrete in my alleyway seemingly fed on nothing but rainwater and refuse and yet still provides shelter and shade.
By all rights I am damaged like that tree.
Not a fan of that word nor idea.
Damage implies that I am somehow worse off than before I was broken.
But I am not.
I am everything that shaped me. Every bit of hurt, every piece of praise.
If I was a tree I would be one of those crooked gnarled monsters that makes no sense. That grows through fences and forms burls around bullets. Remnants of old chains that tried to bind grown into my skin. Just rusted and part of who I am now.
If you could read the rings they would speak of a little girl tossed around by the wind, who loved the sun so much she kept reaching up even when it was dark and cold, still reaching, more tentatively then.
There are parts of my foundation that branch sideways. Too much pressure trying to grow up, so I grew out instead.
There are scars from axes and storms. Old lovers carved their initials in, some deep. Some just spray painted on by vandals. I am waiting for the rain and sun to finish the fade away. And once, I got hit by lightning, changed me forever.
I’ve lost branches. Their weight was worth less than the effort it took to hold them up. They were bare and provided no nourishment anymore. I held on as long as I could. Longer than I should have considering the life they were sucking out of me. They have fallen away, decomposed and fed me again.
I am fascinated by the trees at Niagara Falls. They are intricately twisted from spending 4 months a year coated in thick glistening ice. Stuck in stasis, coming back to life every spring and growing as much as they can in the summer warmth and constant mist before the cold takes them again.
The lone tree at Big Sur that just leans into the wind and implies, ‘fuck it, I am here because I made a decision to be here and I am staying.’ I haven’t seen that one with my own eyes yet, but I will and I will look on it with smiling reverence.
The twisted little cedars, palsied bonsais coming out of the rocks in the Muskoka’s. Taking root in a tablespoon of dirt and growing because they can. Some ancient biological imperative to grow and keep growing. I know how they feel. I wonder if they know how ridiculous?beautiful they look, claiming space that isn’t theirs on rocks that have been there since before time. I doubt they would care. I am trying to be like them, trying so hard not to care and just claim the space I have been given.
I have people in my life encouraging my growth. Telling me “write”. Feeding my muses, sometimes getting them drunk on overwhelm. Videotaping me laying on the floor belly laughing so I can keep that with me forever. Leah and I walking to the corner store, I saw a tree, splayed out, growing sideways, so many limbs hacked off trying to keep it from being there, but there it grew. I squealed and ran to climb it. She just smiled and took a picture for me.