Oak Tree: Pt. 1

By , Santa Barbara, CA
I used to hope that someday someone would like me enough to marry me. Back then, the oak tree in my backyard stood eleven feet and seven inches. The boy who climbed it wore ripped blue jeans and unkempt hair. I had a melancholy laugh, an innocent austerity, and a stubbed toe. Back when I hoped that maybe I was likeable, the only thing I liked was that oak tree. I think that, maybe, it gave me strength.

My mother used to tell me that Earth was hopeless in its beauty. And me, I wholeheartedly agreed. But truthfully, the city I grew up in was as beautiful as the underside of a toilet seat and the Earth, as I knew it, was a puttering Oldsmobile spinning it’s way through an effervescent everything.

When I was young that oak tree was the closest I ever got to holding in my hand a fistful of arable soil. It wasn’t strong enough to support me (in my obesity) but still its strength was big enough to fit. Like mom’s old maternity pants, the tree was a hand-me-down I would never re-gift. The sharpness of its leaves, the coarseness of its bark, the gentle rhythm of its very existence compelled me. To where, I am not sure. I do know, though, that without it my world came to a sputtering halt.

I was born prematurely, into a moldy bathtub coated with last months’ placenta. My mother was one of twenty women enlisted in a crystal reading/birthing class that met, weekly, at a community center in Inglewood, California. The women there held hands and massaged each other’s swollen bellies. They prayed to spirits, chanting, barefoot, on the cold concrete. My mother used to tell me that the friends she had then, at her most vulnerable, were the friends she’d keep forever. I, though, have never met a single one of them

was born unexpectedly, two months before my due-date. Just before I emerged, crying and covered in muck, my mother was splayed out on the ground of her apartment. She was staring at the glow-in-the-dark stars she had, long ago, stuck on the ceiling. Later in my life those stars would come to symbolize, for me, hopes and dreams and aspirations. Then, though, I was merely an afterthought, a fetus, a nobody in a sea of lukewarm saltwater. Then, suddenly, my mom was screaming.
She told me that her labor pains began as suddenly as her hair grayed. I don’t know what that means, as even now her hair is blonde.

She called her birthing friends, who drove her to a windowless room. The room, I guess, was equipped with a bathtub and a doctor. I don’t know if the doctor was built in, or brought along as an afterthought. My mother used to tell me that just before I came she was engulfed by the smell of lupin and lavendar. I think, though, that she must be lying. The room, I have heard, was an allegorical McDonalds of birthing. A one-stop shop for unassuming and unprepared mothers. I don’t know what to think of that. But I am fairly positive the room did not smell of wildflowers.

The boy who climbed my oak tree when I was young enough to be naïve was bigger than a breadbox, and smaller than an elephant. Technically, he was my neighbor but, really, he was my friend. We spent time collecting acorns, him from high in the oak tree’s branches and me, waddlingly, from the ground. He was kind to me when even my mother grimaced at my chafing thighs. I always thought he was a little stupid, though, even in his kindness. Maybe, it was just that which made me flout him.





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gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 1, 2010 at 6:36 pm

This was incredible, you HAVE to write more of this!  Love the descriptive words and the symbolism. Excellent job.  Keep writing!

Btw, will you check out and comment on my work?

 
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