- Henry David Thoreau
It seems as though my world has been in a constant state of transformation lately. Which is good. I am a transformer and thus expect and welcome chaos to follow my moves so I may properly organize everything. It won't remain this way once everything is in its place. Until of course it's time to grow again. Changing with the season, giving reason to live another day.
The first and second nights back in San Francisco I spent going through my bookshelf. Old photos are always my first go to but with this writing kick I've been on, and wanting to throw stuff away (Leaving NY I realized I'm a paper hoarder and that must cease to be immediately), I sat at the dining room table and went through 2 file folders containing both college and high school papers. Papers I hadn't even peeked at in over a decade. One of the first things I found was a drawn out diagram of our family tree from 10th grade. Reading my 15 year old selfs fancy schmancy penmanship written in pink ink, I was flooded with feelings and memories and wanderlust. On my dads side I only know as far back as my great great great grandfather. Sadly, his wife's name I marked as "unknown". Being of the female species myself, my great great grandmother has been one of the names that has floated in my memory banks since I first learned it, Philomena Mammeucci. While presenting our project, a classmate and I mused how maybe we were distantly related as his last name was identical though the two m's were t's and when people came to America, names were often changed and written incorrectly. My dad was of the first generation on his side to be born in this country and after learning of all these uniquely named people that had lived their lives across an entire ocean, it ignited my first spark of wanderlust. While I have yet to visit Italy, or Europe in any capacity, reading the names has once again stirred...something. On my mom's side, for whatever reason, much less is known and I'm grateful for the information I was able to get out of my grandmother while she was still lucid. Though I also still have yet to visit Spain, I need only drive down Valencia street here in San Francisco to in some way get close to my great great grandmother on that side, Carmelita Valencia. The street was named after our families property apparently.
So as I'm revisiting the roots of our own family tree, my mom starts complaining about the amount of electronics my dad has in our garage as he has his own business and works from home. "I can't even get someone in here to cut down that tree because he's blocking the garage door with all of his stuff." The blood of my faerie side began to boil and I exploded "Cut down what tree? Why would you cut down a tree?" She sighed annoyed "Whoever planted that tree was an idiot. Who the hell plants a tree in the middle of a yard? It's in the way, nothing can even really be done out there!" I began to whine with fire in my eyes "It's a living thing. You can't just kill it." In all fairness she had a good comeback "Risa I'm a living thing too and whether I have 5 or 10 years of life left (she's 60 - insert eyeroll), I want to be able to enjoy them." I could write an entire book on my mother and how I wish I could teach an old dog new tricks (I never stop trying), but for now I'll just say that the tree isn't preventing her joy in any capacity.
So the next morning I went outside to say hello and take a look at her. The last maple I was friends with lived outside my apartment in Crown Heights. She received so many of my thoughts, my fears, my love, my wonder, my tears. She housed birds that came to visit me, squirrels while they played, filtered the sun and shared her beauty and knowledge throughout 10 seasons. The saddest part of leaving that apartment was moving away from her. Both apartments that followed lacked a tree to befriend. And so I was excited to see my old friend that morning. She still has a screw and a bit of chain hanging out of her bark from days when I spent hours hanging upside down from my knees swinging as I wanted to be a trapeze artist. Glancing at her base I recall spending hours playing with the beetles I found there. Looking up at her arms I remember the nest that once lived nuzzled between them. Winter is nearly upon us and though the seasons aren't as harsh out here, she has shed nearly all of her leaves and stands almost naked smack dab in the center of our yard. I don't know when it happened, but Spanish moss has begun to clothe her beautiful branches, and I'll be damned if I allow anyone to cut her down.