The Trees Outside
Sometimes you can have a day of work, where a couple of things happen, and you think, that was not my worse day at work ever, because I remember when that day was, because a certain thing, or a few things happened, which qualified it for that category.
I have had many days where I have felt content with my own company, and a few where I have felt isolated. I do remember the day, which contained the loneliest few hours I ever had, and I blame it on the trees that were outside that day.
That afternoon I was lying in bed, trying to get over jet-lag, at a house in Tsawwassen, at family’s, but I was the only one there, my host had picked me up from the airport and had dropped me off to stay at her place, before she had to leave for work. I was grateful for the lift and the temporary roof over my head to recover. All I remember was the hard-wood floors, the lack of sunlight in the house, my own suffering thoughts and regrets and the greenest thickest forest of pine trees surrounding me. I looked out the large windows and saw the grey driveway and a bit of grey road, and then straight trunks of trees in perfect lines, one after another, a thick wall. The trees were beautiful, and overwhelming, in a way that seemed to completely isolate me even more, and perhaps protect me in a way which I didn’t understand at that time.
You see, it was 1999, and I had decided to leave everything in England and return home. In some ways I felt like I had put myself in a slingshot and pinged myself from point A to point B across the Atlantic, not having a chance to process my thoughts until I landed in this house amidst the green trees.
I had been back to BC in recent months, and although I had always denied any power of homesickness over me, I had definitely caught something, sampling the nectars of the left-coast sunshine, the sea views from the island road trip, the familiar fauna and accents. I had combined this with what seemed unsolvable problems in the UK and an ailing grandmother here in Canada. And so I had left Britain, leaving a relationship, step-children and family, and friends I had there, to return.
I found, on the previous trip,when I had returned recently, I had even missed the radio stations, I can remember being in my Mom’s car, turning the dial, coming back from my sisters, on an island highway, and listening to New Slang by The Shins. Passing by the Esso stations and the McDonalds and smelling the sharp salty air by the ferry.
I think all I wanted to do in the house in the trees was sleep and have my dreams step in and be on guard. I knew that I had somehow smashed every thought in my head to pieces in the process of leaving, and now was dealing with painful glass-like fragments.
I was only there one night, it was like some kind of psychic rest-stop. The kind on camping road-trips as a kid, where we pulled over off the interstate, and Mom got milk out of the cooler and we sat at a picnic table eating Cheerios.
So within 48 hours I had moved on, and the loneliness had eased some, and I moved on to the next stage of deciding what to do next, in places that used to be familiar to me, where I wasn’t surrounded by the trees, and only the trees. But I was glad to say goodbye to their trunks, and their sticky needles.
This is a work of creative nonfiction; it contains no composite characters and no names have been changed. I have tried to recreate events, locales and conversations from my memories of them, but I have taken some storytelling liberties, due to my interpretation of events, fading memory, lack of time machine, and need to cherry-pick some memories over others in order to express my thoughts within the story.