Although it was easy to be best friends with a boy, it was not always easy to do the things the boy wanted to do. I didn't struggle with tag, swimming, riding bikes, or Hot Wheels; but I did struggle with others. Anything to do with a baseball, softball, or even volleyball was out, I wouldn't even pick me to be on my own team. I was a horrible bicycle repair person, refused to touch snakes, and never did master writing my name in the snow via urine.
Other than the snakes (and other wildlife) I tried my best to keep up. (yes that included the snow thing - I was YOUNG!) So, when my best friend shimmied up the big walnut tree in my front yard and declared that there was no way I would be able to do it, the competitive feminist in me kicked into high gear.
The competitive feminist isn't always the wisest of my personalities.
Despite my complete lack of upper body strength and a storied past of never doing a single pull-up, never getting off the ground on the rope climb and winning an award for being girl who fell off the monkey bars the most, I showed that boy the 1 finger salute (taught to me by my dad, the same person who told me I could do whatever he could do) (he must have forgotten about the snow thing) and attempted to climb the tree.
It was, quite frankly, a miracle. Between my stubborn pride and the adrenaline rush I was feeling over the salute I had given, I managed to not only shimmy off the ground but I made it high enough up that when my arms and legs gave out completely I landed hard enough on my back that I got the wind knocked right out of me.
I clearly remember lying there under that damn walnut tree with half rotted walnuts under me, ruining my clothes and staining my skin...my best friend staring down at me, eyes wide and mouth agape as I struggled to take a breath....it was utterly terrifying. And, for me at least, scary enough that I never tried to climb that damn walnut tree again and have done my diligence to ensure that I keep myself out of physical situations that could lead back to that horrible feeling.
Unfortunately, I've learned that in life it almost doesn't matter what you do to protect yourself, someone or something is going to knock the wind out of you when you least expect it. Sure, you could hide yourself away and avoid caring or feeling, but someone or something will still eventually get to you.
I'm not the kind of person to hide myself away... so this last year has been spent with instance after instance of getting the emotional wind knocked out of me. Sometimes the fall wasn't as far and it was easier to start breathing... but not every time, and certainly not this last time.
No, this last time, this last thing, it feels like I've fallen from the top of that walnut tree and landing on every branch along the way. Laying on each branch just long enough to start to get my breathe back, but then that branch gives way and I tumble to the next and have the wind knocked out of me all over again.
I'm working hard not to let this last thing own me, to stop hitting branches and just bottom out so I can get up, brush the fucking rotted walnuts from my clothes, scrub the stains from my skin and make damn sure this never happens again.
Because this ....unlike all the other stuff that came before....THIS I can make damn sure never happens again.
I can chop this walnut tree down if I want to.
But I'm not sure I want to get the ax out, I'm not sure I'm ready to fire up the chainsaw and be done with it. This tree has been in my life for so long...it's provided all the things that you expect from a strong, proud tree and I'm not sure what my life will be like if I never see this tree again.
The thought of life without the walnut tree hurts almost as much as the fall, but I also can't let the tree hurt me like this again.
Updated/Edited To Clarify: It suddenly dawned on me that this post could be misconstrued to mean that something bad is happening between Mr.Motorcycle and I. I assure this isn't the case - he and I are golden.