Trees were my best friends when I was a kid. I liked nothing better than climbing up into my favorite maple that had branches nearly as close together as stairs, and some large enough to brace yourself against to sit and read. I would climb that tree as high as I could go and look out on the world, or be invisible to anything happening on the ground. Sometimes I’d imagine I was a black panther, slinking among the branches, waiting for prey. The few friends I allowed into that world with me grew tired of it pretty quickly, so I stopped being anything but me.
Once, when I was eleven or twelve, I climbed up into a really tall pine with my best friend’s brothers. There were some gaps in the branches that made it difficult to ascend, but I was determined that if her twerp younger brothers could do it, I certainly could. It was a fantastic view when I made it to where they were. They started to descend, but I wanted to be up there enjoying the vista for a little longer.
Then I looked straight down.
I don’t think I’ve ever clung to a branch after that as hard as I did that one. I yelled to my friend that I couldn’t get down, and her brothers were telling me I could, and even went so far as to climb back up to encourage me, but that made it worse – they were now rocking the tree! I was verging on hysteria and they were trying to be rational. “Just put your foot down to the next branch”, they coaxed. I tried. They kept intoning “Almost there”, but I swear the branches got further apart in the time I was up there, feeling all free and wonderful and completely forgetting that trees grow!
I was shaking now so there was no way I was getting down without help. They all went to leave to go get their dad, and I screamed for one of them to “STAY WITH ME!”
When the boys returned with their father, he was all business. “You got yourself up there – now get yourself down!” I started to cry again because not only was I completely humiliated, but I was still terrified and thought that I’d have to live in the tree now because didn’t he realize that I could NOT get down?!
So, he started to leave. “Come on kids, dinner’s almost ready, and she’s made up her mind to stay up there.”
That was the motivation I needed, apparently. I screamed “NO, PLEASE DON’T GO!”, and let myself stretch further than safety and sanity dictated, and found a foothold! The relief that flooded over me was better than any high I’ve experienced since. Unfortunately, I still had several tricky branches to negotiate.
Down to the next branch I tremulously advanced, and ‘CRACK’! The reverberation alone was enough to cause warring nations to declare a cease-fire. I slipped ominously down toward the end of the split branch. My friend’s dad was under the spot where I was faster than humans can normally move, but I was faster and pretty much dropped to the next branch down, and the one after that.
The closer I got to the ground, the easier it was, and why was everyone standing around looking at me like my death was imminent? I’d climbed trees before. Jeez.
I think my friend’s dad would have spanked me if I had been his kid, but his bellowing voice detailing my stupidity sufficed to put the fear of needing his assistance ever again into me. Then he looked me over for damage, and gave a curt: “You’re ok. Let’s go”, but I swear I saw color come back into his face.
© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.