"Hi! Wow, it's been ages! How've you been? Oh my god! That's so interesting! I, um, have to go, um, wash my hair or something! Yeah, I have a headache! Yeeaaaaaah. It was so great to see you! Take care! Byeee!"
Jesus gay, I'm sorry, blog! But that's the treatment you've been getting from me whenever I see the link to post in my bookmarks. The same greeting I would give someone I met one night at a bar and promptly forgot about.
You deserve better, blog. I put so much energy into you, in the yesteryears. And now when I see you I treat you like a cheap one night stand. I'm horrible.
I would love to say that there's been some wildly emotional and poetic reason for my protracted silence but there's not. Burning bridges doesn't leave much time for writing. Acting like an asshole doesn't leave much room for self-reflection.
But the leaves, they are a-turnin'. The trees, they are a-fallin'.
Literally, actually. Not just because it's nearly autumn but because the tree outside my house fell down last week.
This tree has been slowly dying for years. Last summer it produced a few green leaves, this year it produced none. Fungus crept up the trunk.
The rain drenched the trunk until it became spongy and the weight of the dead branches pulled it down into the street. There it sat, blocking cars from using the alleyway, until the city cleaned it up six hours later.
This tree began dying around the same time my marriage did. "We should just chuck it out and plant a new one", one of us said. "Maybe with some care it could be healthy again" countered the other. I don't remember who argued for which side and knowing us we switched roles every time. It was a recurring discussion.
Every year the tree got sicker, leaves sparser, fungus more plentiful. And I wondered when Nature would finally do away with this albatross, this poor dying tree. The tree figured into my dreams regularly because the nearest branch almost brushed the bedroom window next to which I sleep. It came to symbolize my baggage, all my problems that just wouldn't die.
Sometimes I imagined it being set ablaze in a thunderstorm. I wondered if it would fall apart in pieces or just keel over, and if it would cause property damage on the descent. Every time I looked at that tree I imagined and wished for its demise.
And when I sat reading in my room on that rainy day, when I heard that whoooosh I didn't have to look out the window to see what happened. From the relief I felt in my bones I knew: the tree had finally kicked it.
I am not silly or superstitious enough to think that the tree dying will really change anything. I am savvy enough to know that if I want it to mean something it will.
Since the tree died I gave my kitchen the scrubbing of its life and revamped the bedtime routine to involve less yelling and more reading. I have been consciously redirecting my attitude (a near constant battle against old habits, believe me) toward being compassionate instead of impatient and frustrated.
Naomi's heading into a hard year of school and this is no time to be selfish. I am very aware, perhaps more aware than most, of the kind of damage a bad year of school could do to her self-esteem. She will be seven in a few weeks, the age of reason, and this is the kind of parenting I've been waiting to do ever since I began thinking of parenting all those years ago.
Before bedtime every night we read a few pages of A Tree Grow In Brooklyn. Naomi is captivated by the language and the imagery, we are both enthralled with the magic that can live within such hardship, and I am inspired to be as tough a mother as Katie Nolan.