I've looked for it several times but have only found it twice, when someone was with me who knew where it was. The first time
, I was riding on the back of a scooter
with this Goth
guy who worked with me at the restaurant as a waiter. David must have been almost seven feet tall and impossibly bony, with long stringy, dyed black hair
and a penchant
for wearing dresses, makeup and nail polish more frequently than I did. Seeing him on his scooter brought to me the theme song for the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz
, but with me on the back of it the sensation was more liberating.
We came to it at night. He brought a candle and wine. I turned cartwheels in the moonlight. We lurked under the canopy of leaves so well that we were invisible. Two weeks passed before he came up to the office to hand me a card in which he had written his acknowledgement of my recent distance, his sad eyes peering in the florescent overheads lights from behind blood red shades. I was sorry that I couldn't be his soft vixen, and waited until after he'd tromped downstairs to punch in before I tore the card in two and threw it away. This was during the time when I was allowing myself to be a bitch, to turn the faucet in my heart off and let the pipes freeze over for what became almost two years.
After this two year hiatus, I met Chris, a wayward member of my church in the Quarter. He, like myself, is what I considered a "baby Christian," so new to a lifestyle that he didn't always know how to act. He's the kind of guy who when he meets a girl that goes for him even mildly, he sets the trap for a full on commitment within two weeks. Ironically this increment of time has typically been my cutoff limit for any guy I was interested in.
Altogether, our time spent together aside from being on the phone culminated in one long weekend, where we walked pretty much everywhere in the city. I had asked him to be my escort for the Christmas party at work later in the month, but I was not yet comfortable even holding his hand. We found the tree in the afternoon and I watched him climb to the thick lower branch that ran parallel to the ground before it crashed down to the grass and ebbed up again like a frozen spout of champagne from the bottle. All around the base of the tree were knots the size of small picnic stools, worn soft from stepping.
"Come out here with me." Chris reached out his hand to me as I tried to walk up the ascending branch that was more that a foot around in circumference. The tree loomed in front of me so large I thought it would either gobble me up whole or hurl me into a bloody heap on the ground. How would you like it if someone came around and picked something off of you?, it asked.
"I can't do it. I'm scared." He pouted for a few minutes then lumbered back out to where I was frozen and helped me down. A crew of hippie kids were laid out on a blanket a few yards past us, and their dog sauntered up the other side and managed to attain a height even more impressive than Chris was capable. We were both shunned and returned to the car.
Maybe a week had passed, and my interest in Chris waned as his insistence on my being some heavenly gift sent to deliver him from his loneliness wore me down. But he was still taking me to the Christmas party. On the walk to the hotel where it was hosted, he tried once to hold my hand, by putting it in the crook of his arm like you do at prom. I stiffened. Later on, I walked him to the end of the street and watched him cross it, then returned to the party alone, watching the merry couples dance like marbles on a shiny hardwood floor.
I go to Audubon Park every night now, to walk the track. Sometimes, I will still go there on Sundays with a bag of bread bits to feed the ducks. But I still have yet to find that tree. Maybe it will find me, when I am ready to take someone to it again.