The hemlock tree. I have many on the small amount of land I own, but there is one in particular, right behind my house, before you reach the stables. I like sit out there under it, look up through the branches; that’s where I do most of my writing, it’s quiet. I work for the Pennsylvania Gazette; it’s not a big job so far. I’m low on the work force, writing a small column on whatever is captivating the public this week. In the winter I can’t bring myself to sit under the tree, it is just too cold, so instead I sit inside and write; it is not my best work. My father came to America in the fall of 1720, from a hard life in Germany. He worked in lumber. He never really told me how, but he’d only been here a few months when he met my mother. She came from a wealthy family; her grandfather had a booming tobacco plantation down in Virginia. Her father moved their family to Pennsylvania a year earlier, enticed by the freedom to practice their own religion—or in my mother’s case, no religion at all. After they were married, he quit his lumber job, moved them further inland, started up in livestock; made enough to build a good house and send me to college. I’d lived here all my life, went to the big university in Philadelphia, got a degree. Being twenty three with a college degree, still living with my parents is not the way I like to introduce myself, but it’s the only story I’ve got. When I’m not writing under the hemlock, I find myself in town in the library. It’s the first in the new world. I explore all day, sit and read, sit and write. I’ve recently met a girl there; we’ve spoken on several occasions. Maybe she’s the future, or maybe she’s just a girl in a library; I find myself too cowardly to find out. My father asks what kind of work I want to do, I look up from whatever book or piece I’m writing and say to him “You’re looking at it.”. I don’t want to work in livestock, or lumber, or iron; I just want to write. He rolls his eyes, doesn’t press too much. He knows I’ll find my way, just like he did. October is chilly—or maybe a little worst then chilly—, but I still rest under the hemlock, hope to catch sight of a white-tailed deer on the tree-line. The dog sits by my side: a Great Dane, my mother says. He looks just like any dog to me, but bigger (much bigger). His ears prick at this noise and that; I’m glad for his company. Not sure where my life goes from here, I find myself dreaming. Will I be at the top of the Gazette one day? Will I give in to my father and make a living from fields and fields of cattle? Will I marry the girl in the library, and introduce her to the Great Dane under my hemlock? Or will I fail in life; become an old man who wanders the first library in America, scribbling words on paper? I have no real idea, breathe in breathe out, pen to paper, smile at the girl, and pet the dog. This is my life in America. I hear rumors of rebellion, of a revolution of some kind. I don’t know what roll I’ll play, but if I ever have to pay just to write on paper, perhaps then the King and I will have an issue.
A Time in Philadelphia
October 28, 2011