We are surrounded by gentle giants. But it wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles that I realized. Branches and leaves reach up to the sky from the patch of land between the concret slabs. They fan out over homes, and cut their shadows across the dry desert heat.
New York races its buildings past the treetops to scratch the sky, so though I’ve hidden from the rain, huddled against their trunks, they never struck me as big. The suburban pines of my childhood decorated the background of my consciousness, seen but unseen.
Except for one, proud in a pasture, preening for all who drove by, but far enough away that she never seemed big. She shrunk in on herself after a flood or a drought stole her leaves and eventually brought her down.
But LA’s trees are new. They fan their roots over and under the urban terrain; they are still here, still here, no matter what you do. And I see them. The new ones and the old ones, and wave hello on my commute. They smile down as my bike makes the hard right at the bottom of the hill, cutting in quickly to avoid the cars, and wave me on my way home.
When you get to the end in the middle of it all and there is still more, so much more, but it’ll be over soon, but you are so tired and you’ll regret this break tomorrow and the next day and over the weekend when you’re trying to get everything back running but right now. right now. you just need to stop.
You push. Look for something simple, something easy. That thing you can do to check just one thing off the CVS receipt of your to-do list. Do that and then break. Do that first though. Do that first.
But. I don’t want to.
The stone found me in Greece.
Slipped in a pocket; ported over borders and borders and oceans and lands
Four smooth grooves
(Or two depending on who’s counting)
Perfect for the shape of my stubby thumb
Cupped neatly in the valley of my palms
Taking on the wear and tear that would rip me apart
The hill tips over a points it’s way down through a jungle of lights and cars and shadowed pedestrians. On the days when it’s perfect, after the rush of the hours at work after the rush of the cars driving home, when the rush is the blur of the lights that stay green.
Down the slope and sweep juuust to the left and the earth tips down again and pulls you into her heart.
You could ride the momentum down and up again but this way, this way creates a storm in your ears and everything falls away as everything pulls to the present and it is you and the road and the risk and the blood in your veins and the beat of your heart.
The earth tips up again.
You whisper thanks to your guardian angel as you pump her pedals over the crest of the hill and past the tent city with flags crying for Argentina and through the light at the top as it turns to yellow.