I'm staying in the house I grew up in this weekend.

I've been away off and on for a few years now what with school and other things -- at the moment I'm living a good hour from here because of work, but I had some business in the city this weekend and, rather than commuting down Route 1 I decided to stay here.

My family is away -- they've all packed up and gone on vacation so I'm here alone. My dad's car haunts the driveway because they all took the van. Other than that there's not a damn sign of life.

For some reason I decided to go in the backyard -- I haven't really been back there since my childhood where I used to play. Half of it is weeds now -- or at least more of it is overgrown than I remember. You can barely walk down one side of the house for overgrown vegetation.

I stood back there for a moment, looked at the swing hanging from the big Norway Maple that my father and I made. Then I walked back around the other side, and saw the tree.

It's a tiny little thing -- chinese maple I think but I'm not sure. Beautiful red foliage all year round. And I hadn't stopped to look at it, hadn't touched it, hadn't noticed it since I left elementary school -- freshman year of high school at the absolute latest.

It's so much smaller than I remember. I used to climb up in its fragile branches and sit, it was an adventure. I almost did now, but for my nosy neighbor. A small tire swing hangs from this one -- definitely not one that would support me -- and a hammock far too short for my six feet.

I don't suppose any of you care, but I felt the burning need to tell someone about this tree -- about this magical symbol of my childhood that had been sitting a few feet away from me all evening, is sitting a few feet away from me now, and that I had not seen, not truly anyway, since I was twelve.