I loved climbing the tree to my platform. You climbed up three bricks of wood nailed into the trunk to get to the spot. I think one of my brothers and my father had nailed that platform into the V-shaped gap about 12 feet up. I sat on a two-foot by two-foot piece of wood, my platform.
To be an artist or a writer, I’ve wondered if it’s necessary to be an outsider.
From the platform in the tree, I could be on the margins of our big suburban house, not far from the action. But far enough away to be alone.
Having three brothers, all around my age, I was the only girl for many years, I was, at times, lonely, different, misunderstood.
There was no way a tree could misunderstand me. The tree was simply a tree, asking for nothing. I appreciated the non-judgmental nature of a tree.
I had sinus headaches regularly. The pediatrician took pinpricks on my arm weekly, until he, a George Castanza kind of guy, determined that I was allergic to mold and dust; trees and grass. I was especially allergic to Oak and Elm, the two kinds of trees in our suburban Chicago yard.
I rarely climbed the backyard tree as I got older and started high school. Instead, I hung out in the kitchen of our next-door neighbor Mrs. Zimmer. She administered my weekly allergy shots. We talked a lot. I felt understood. I remember once we talked about Zoroastrianism.
I liked our backyard tree; I liked my adult friend; I liked relief from my sinus headaches.