Monday, March 29, 2010

Childhood Memories of Trees and Cats

When I was a kid, I didn't relate well with people. The entities that made the most sense to me were trees and cats.


Even though my oldest brother had allergies, my parents let me keep a string of stray cats, one inevitably replacing the one before it that had either 1) run away or 2) died tragically, propelling me into a sobbing fit that could last for hours and hours...

Technically the cats weren't supposed to spend time inside, but I could usually sneak them in for a nap on my bed in the afternoon when my mom was similarly napping. They would purr and sleep and I would soak them up with my eyes, hands and ears. The sound of a cat purring was so powerful to me. I found it soothing in a way nothing else was - except maybe really awesome music played by a symphony (cuz, remember, I was raised on classical and religious music ONLY [except for the music in whatever "approved" movies were available]). Anyway, I'd just stand there (because I had top bunk), watching this cat purr and dream and it made my life seem totally bearable.

I also spent a lot of time following my cats outside, watching them hunt (though I never liked watching them kill), play and walk around the world as if it was made just for them. I developed a lot of cat-like qualities of observation (with eyes and ears), which is one reason people have found me 'introverted': I'd rather listen & observe than talk. It's more interesting and you learn more that way, and I have always been in love with learning.

It's also from cats that I learned it's often best just turn and walk away from a situation that isn't serving you rather than be on the attack. You keep your dignity (or try to) and save your strength for something that really demands it.

And then trees!

Oh, trees :)

I love them so much. My parents house has two gigantic oaks in the backyard, behind which stood a lovely little woods, and in the front yard there was a crab apple tree and a gumball tree. Trees impressed me so much because the turning leaves were always an awesome show, and the crab apple tree had gorgeous blooms in the spring.

Plus, you could climb all over most of them (and I did), hanging onto them and just letting the wind rock you around, listening to the forest sounds below. I also like the shape of trees and the way their bare branches look like some weird wooden weaving. I liked watching them shake around in the awesome thunderstorms, and how a gentle wind could make the leaves whisper to me.

Beyond that, trees astounded me with the sheer amount of energy they used, moving the sap and nutrients around in their bark. I used to hold them, close my eyes and imagine the inside of the tree like a pillar of light, the center flowing up and down in a regular, controlled cycle, and I'd want so badly to be a tree, because my energy was all over the place. I was so constantly frightened and twisted up inside that to be a tree would, I thought, bring me absolute balance within myself, though I didn't really have words for what I wanted at the time.

Related posts:
On Running Away from Femininity
Plastic Jellies and Summer Memories

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