Trees of Eden

Looking through the train window, he noticed a blur of fall color. The whirr of branches and leaves pulled in his gaze, and he slipped into a trance of yellow and orange. After several lost minutes, he realized that the sweep of the passing bouquet had stifled his ability to make out any of the individual trees that, collected together, called out to his spellbound eyes. So he leaned forward, picking out one tree on the horizon and tracing it with his eyes as it traveled along the length of the window frame. This way, he could see how the bark was a rugged cream color on one tree and a dark grey on another; how what looked like an old oak had pale green lichen draped over its torso; how a sapling of some species he couldn’t identify had decaying leaves that refused to fall off.

And then he thought that love is like a forest as a train rolls by. He felt regret that there were so many trees in a forest—trees that, had they been in his back yard, would have been affectionately ingrained in his memory. But these trees were not loved, not known. They just sat there, on the side of the tracks, and waited patiently to die—their existence meaning nothing to no-one. Perhaps one day they would be made into paper, and someone would write something down on what was left of them, and maybe, just maybe, that something would be important.

Love was like the trees that nobody came to look at. Love was mere chance; luck. Love was the way you would be forced to focus on one tree because the whole array of colors was too overwhelming for your senses. Love was the way you couldn’t focus on reading Nietzsche because that woman in the pink blouse to your right was telling her friend Carl about how her daughter Samantha had failed her Chemistry test.

There were countless other trees, other people out there that you would never meet; the fact that you chose this one to pay attention to—to love—was meaningless and random and stupid.

Love was like life, and life was like the shadows among the gaps in the trees of a forest that nobody came to look at.

29 October, 2013

 

Our Last Night in the Park

We walked through the trees, and the snow, and there was no sound but your breath and the resounding glances we would take deep into each other’s eyes in the darkness among the firm, old oaks. Perhaps they weren’t oaks.

We walked deep into the recesses of the small park, standing between the saplings and trying to find solace from whatever you called ‘reality.’ We stood still like the trees, embracing like long lost lovers who knew that after years of waiting, there could only be this last moment, and then nothing.

We were quiet, sentimental, and your touch was delicate and soft, like the powdered snow that rested on the ground and surrounded our feet. There was only this moment and nothing else: the sweet black of your eyes and your short hair and the way your head warmed my hands.

You whispered that it was our last night together, and I wished secretly that we could somehow be unstuck from time’s cruel forward assault, that we could be light, not carrying any of the weight that our feet did as they trudged among the soft, urban snow.

There was no rustle in the branches, no sound of birds moving to build a nest or tend to their bellies; there was only the movement of our winter jackets as we slowly made each other feel okay again, tenderly changing my grip around your back, wanting to hold you in every way possible. But the snow was fresh and comforting and it hugged our feet and seemed to beckon them into submission: “don’t move,” it breathed.

Then I heard an inevitable car’s honk and realized that it was probably close to 1AM and that you would return to your dormitory soon; I would be left alone, once more. My feet were cold and I needed to blow my nose and so I unzipped my jacket pocket and pulled out the tissue, as white as snow, and blew into it the reality of my body—the warm, contrasting truth that now needed a garbage bin so as not to be considered ‘littering,’ so as not to ruin the idyllic scene that we had made, painted, for ourselves. I walked out of the clearing and over to the bright yellow box and tossed the tissue inside its dark recesses. I came back and you were there waiting but it was different. Your phone rang; it was your roommate.

We left the place where you had hidden your memory, your moment, deep within your heart; that forest that was filled with ancient oaks and resplendent redwoods carved deep into the glistening, radiant moon-filled snow that went up to our knees and kept us there for eternity. For you, the sun never came up, the birds never started their busy day, the cars were nowhere to be found, and the only thing that moved was our pulsing hearts as we stayed there, frozen, wrapped in an unrelenting embrace that was sweet and tender and, never to end.

You told me that nobody had ever made you feel this way, that you were your true self with me. Then you said goodbye.

I kissed you and it felt as though it were a mere stamp upon something inevitable, like a formality added at the last second to fulfill some sort of bureaucratic protocol. There was nothing real in it, because every second that the kiss lasted for was just a reminder that I was so much closer to the kiss’s conclusion—our own sudden, clear-cut consummation.

It ended. It had to, it seems. I looked at you and sensed a disconnect—suddenly, we weren’t inhabiting the same place anymore: you were still in that imaginary forest dreaming about our eternal moment. You were there, back in the warm blanket you’d knitted of knee-deep shimmering snow; but I was standing next to my apartment on the pavement, the materials that had been constructed by the Chinese provincial government in the 1990’s in order to attract the Han Chinese to come and live in this city—this pile of smog and concrete—of crumbling apartment buildings with questionable construction.

She said goodbye, turning the other way faster than I ever expected. She didn’t turn around; she was gone. I wanted to cough: to show her that things weren’t pure and clean like she wanted, imagined, in her delirium. Suddenly, I became angry—knew that she would never feel how I felt and hated her for her ability to transcend this place—this hard concrete hell—and replace it with that pillow of imaginary snow, that same frozen-water-substance that had left its mark on my wet and frozen feet. I shivered.

 

28 February, 2012