Where was your nature as a kid?
When I was very young, there was a bush in my yard that I would climb into like a womb. I don’t know the species of the bush, only that I could lift up one side, army crawl through dirt and leaves, and scoot into a hollow room just big enough for my little frame. I would look up at the branchy walls, the greens and browns that let no light in, and sit crosslegged, totally entertained.
Across the street, there was a Willow tree. By age six I already knew its real name was Weeping Willow because the tree cried and/or made people cry. I never actually sorted out this logic, only that there must be something literal about why this Willow wept. Otherwise, there would be no explanation for the name.
Around that time, my folks split up. Pops moved into an apartment complex a few blocks away, and there was a gravel parking lot that Noland and I would play in. A eucalyptus grove backdropped it.
One day, Noland and I got our hands on slingshots and thought it a bright idea to fling small granite rocks over into the eucalyptus grove—and over the tenants' cars. I suggested we make a game of it: Try to fling the stones as close to the cars as possible without hitting them.
I remember the sound of the windshield shattering. So grand and theatric, like cymbals in an orchestra. We ran into an alleyway and I made Noland swear a solemn oath to never tell a soul what we had done. I made sure to use the word WE so that he was well aware that WE were in this together. In fact, he was three years older than me, so HE should have known this was a bad idea. But I figured we didn’t need to go there. Yet.
Later that day, I caved. Through snot-nosed gasps, I told my dad what WE had done. It was right around the time my dad had read the book Holes to me, so I was sure I would be shipped off to some sweltering delinquent center in Texas, where I would dig 5x5 holes for the rest of my days. Fortunately, my dad and the neighbor who now had a shattered windshield were cool about it. My punishment was only to write an apology letter about what I had done. But to this day, the smell of eucalyptus gives me anxiety.
So, where was your nature as a kid? That was mine.
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