The Gumball Tree

I am looking out my window, feeling the weight of things that have been bothering me. Things I’m so good at tucking away inside. Because they are dumb in the grand scheme. They are petty and poisonous and 100% of my own creating, and they don’t deserve to have light shined upon them where they might cause someone else pain. So I look out the window, hoping if I look long enough, the feelings will find it quite nice out there and decide to make a new home.

My eyes settle on the gumball tree. Something about it, way up in the high branches – maybe the pattern of the leaves – reminds me of yours. It really looks nothing like your gumball tree, save that it is the same species. Yours had the fattest, thickest trunk, with that low branch which stretched out long, begging for little butts to sit on it. My gumball tree is tall and thin…a pittance of a climbing tree. But the leaves. The leaves take me right back to your front lawn, with the lamp post and the giant mailbox and the stepping stones behind the big conifer that led to our favorite hiding spot. The way it was before the next owners ruined it all with a circle drive clean through the grass.

On that front lawn, under that gumball tree, I wasn’t weighed down. I was young and in the most glorious bubble. I didn’t worry about how I looked – what I ate – what they ate – if I was making other people happy – if they’re doing okay – if I could have done more – if I did too much – if I said the wrong the thing – if I was going to fuck everything up – if they think everything is fucked up – if I missed something -if they aren’t telling me everything – if I didn’t do it correctly – if I wasn’t attentive enough – if I made the wrong decision – if they’re making the right decisions – if my faith in someone was misplaced – if I even know what I believe – if I’m wasting my potential, my time, my money, my energy, my life. You know, the typical stuff. Nothing fancy.  Just the run-of-the-mill shit that keeps the average woman up at night.

It would be nice if it was the gumball tree that was what assuaged all those worries. Then the only thing I’d need to do right now is stand under the one outside my window. But it wasn’t the gumball tree. It was because it was YOUR gumball tree; and you took care of both of us so I could just be a kid sitting on that low branch. Now I have a gumball tree. It’s my turn to keep the worries so they don’t have to.

Still, I liked remembering your gumball tree. It made me feel better for a minute. Or rather, you made me feel better for a minute. It’s weird how you can still do that, even without being here.

I guess since I have my own gumball tree now, I also need to figure out how to take care of shit just like you. And also how to talk a kid into raking all those damn gumballs for a quarter.


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(Gumball Tree photo by Jessica Lucia. Licensed under CC BY-NC-BD 2.0 via Commons)

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