Pandemic Tales #8: The Persimmon Tree

Big life events often happen instantaneously. You’re conceived. You’re born. Your first tooth breaks your gum. A car door slams on your finger. One of your parents leaves. Your grandfather dies. A brother is born. A cat gets adopted. A boy kisses you. You move. You lose all your friends. You start to run. You sit in a room and someone reads aloud a story and you fall in love.

More or less, our trajectories are more similar than different. Our paths diverge on the little details. Like the Japanese persimmon tree.

Six years ago on a particularly hot October day, I went to visit a house I had found on the internet in my cramped hot apartment. I was restless, but happy. I was editing transcripts, one of my favorite work activities, cleaning up dialogue, when I began searching for a place to escape the heat and I found this nearby home with a beautiful Spanish beamed living room. I went to visit around dusk. In the backyard was a magnificent persimmon tree, piercing orange fruit attached to its vines. I loved the house, but it was the garden that swept me away, and this tree, that was netted in rope to save it from the birds.

I bought the house. One of the first things we did after we moved in was liberate the tree. My friend Annette was studying landscape design and she came over with her pruning equipment and we spent an afternoon cutting off this elaborate net that had guarded the tree from birds for what appeared was decades. The trees branches had grown in and around the net and when it was finally free, we looked at the slightly deformed specimen and slowly pruned it accordingly so that it could grow again.

That was five years ago.

I found myself today in a hammock I bought 2 years ago that I finally set up under the tree staring at it, broken down after the events of the last few months, saddened by my failures in choice in life, burnt out. But I looked at the tree, so verdant and happy in the late afternoon sun, and remembered that it wasn’t always this way. Its beauty was hidden for so long by its cover, it was damaged when it was released and it took some time for it to heal and grow again. I promised myself I needed to be kinder to myself – to remind myself that even though things seem to change so quickly, we need to grow into these movements, we need seconds and spaces to adapt to nature’s mutations and sometimes we just need to be still and disconnect as these moments occur.

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