My childhood friend Chrissy had a tall tree in her front yard that used to drop spiky pom-pom looking thingamabobs and we would throw them at each other. Chrissy could climb to the upper reaches of the tree where the branches turned to twigs. I only dared to hang off the strongest low branch like recess on the monkey bars, lifting my legs and bending at the knees so I could swing back and forth. Chrissy’s tree was home base when we played softball and was where we would hide our faces when counting back in a game of hide and seek. Chrissy’s tree lived in front of a house filled with actors in a play, pretending to be in love, pretending to love women, pretending to be happy.
The tree in front of my house, two doors down, was a magnolia. It provided much-needed shade during the scorching valley summers. My mom used to put my Strawberry Shortcake plastic pool in the front yard and fill it with cool water from the pale green gardening hose. It was pink, shaped like a strawberry and had a slide at the top where the stem would be. That pool felt huge to seven year old me as we splashed about underneath the magnolia as it lazily dropped its fuzzy yellow leaves. Somewhere there’s a photo of Melinda, one house down, and I standing next to the pool in our swim suits; mine was trendy 80s bright yellow with large numbers on it while Melinda’s was blue and white striped, halter style. She was still a natural blonde in those days.
Reluctantly, my mother recently had to cut down the magnolia. It was dead and leaning precariously towards the house. Chrissy’s spiky pom-pom tree was cut down years ago and at least five families have inhabitated those three bedrooms and two baths since her departure to husband #1.
Melinda’s yard never had a tree, but bushes. It was a far more honest home, a divorced mom with her two girls. Occasionally their dad roared up in a red Corvette, picking them and dropping them off, until the law told him he was done. They soon fled for newer, brighter opportunities further north, and the home then featured a rotating cast of owners who ripped out the bushes. They harbored spiders, you know.
Today, Melinda is a new widow and a grown-up orphan. Her mom dead because of metastatic cancer; her dad out of the picture due to cancer of the heart; her husband dust because of too many drinks at the wrong time. We often journey back to the neighborhood and tell stories of dancing in her front yard and hiding in those bushes, and even, throwing those little spiky pom-pom things at each other and the neighborhood bully. Our own annihilation will happen someday, but until then, we have our memories.
In response to Daily Prompt: Tree