I just had the most beautiful flash of a memory from childhood—that time around sixth or seventh grade, before you’ve totally grown out of your actual child-ness and into a teenager. I was in the backyard of the house we lived in when we first moved to Texas. Our backyard was an acre, the front half just grass and a trampoline, the back half our own little forest of oak and pecan trees, and for just a little while, there was a time when we had a hammock. I remember a day in the fall, the sharp white rope digging into my skin, looking up through the leaves with a book in my hands.
(Not fall, but you can see the hammock.)
Adults like to romanticize childhood as free from responsibility, based on the fact that kids don’t have to pay bills, but if you think about it—childhood is nothing but adults making you do things you don’t want to do. Actually, there’s a good chance I was supposed to be doing something else, probably mowing the lawn or cleaning my room with my sisters. But I wouldn’t have been thinking about that. Back then, when I read a book, I was in it. I could sit in the living room with my five siblings running around chasing each other, shouting, fighting, and watching Power Rangers—but I’d be aware of none of it. I miss that, almost as much as I miss the trees.
(For perspective: me mowing the lawn, sometime around the exact age I’m talking about.)
I really miss those trees.