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Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Wishing Tree

Obviously, wishes have been on my mind as of late.

At the same time, the kids have recently become obsessed with the Shel Silverstein book, The Giving Tree. Reading it reminds me of a tree back at camp called the Wishing Tree. The camp legend went that when lightning struck the tree, it split it down the middle and imbued it with the power to grant each child one wish every summer. You ran down the path, jumped through the tree, and kissed the air while you were traveling over the split trunk. All the while thinking about your wish.

When I was eight-years-old, I fell in love with a boy at camp. He was older--12--and he played trumpet. We were in the camp play together. I was a tree. A non-speaking role. He was the ecologist. He saved my life when the Queen's men wanted to chop down the trees. We went on a camping trip together. We were an hour late leaving for the trip because the boy had to have his trumpet lesson. My sister told me that this made him a loser. She was pissed that the bus had to wait for him and that we had to wait on the hot steps until he finished his lesson. I used my wish on him anyway.

At the end of the summer, I wished that when I grew up, the boy would kiss me. After I made my wish, my friends and I were hanging out on the steps and someone took a photograph. We were talking about what we wished for that summer. When I told them that I had wished that the boy would kiss me, my friends all told me that I had wasted my wish. He was 12 and I was 8. A 12-year-old would never pay attention to an 8-year old. I still have that photograph of myself with my friends, looking a little sad as I processed that they were probably right. I should have used my wish on something else.

I continued to go to this camp for four more years because you could go to this camp until you were 12. I returned when I was 15 to be a CIT (counselor in training). I was stuck helping out in woodworking. No one wanted to work in woodworking because the counselor was a 50-something year old man who loved carpentry a little too much. And hated kids a little too much. In a strange twist of fate, this man would arrive to teach science at the same school where I taught a few years ago. The woodworking man pops up in my life at the strangest times--all unrelated.

My second summer, the headmistress of the camp decided I paid my dues in woodworking and moved me to the music and drama unit--which was considered the best unit. There was a new counselor there named Eric. He was very cute and he went to Oberlin, which was where I wanted to go to college. We hung out the first two days of camp getting the room ready for the campers and attending meetings. On the third day, he asked me if I wanted to go for a walk. We went down to the stream and jumped stones across until we were sitting in the center of the stream with the water passing around us.

When we were walking down to the stream, he referred to a patch of land as the alligator swamp. It was a nickname only campers around my age knew. When we sat down on the rock, I asked him how he knew it. He told me that he had been a camper at the camp. We played a long game of " you remember..." and he asked me if I remembered this camp play that Dan, the counselor, had written. I told him I had been in the play and I asked him which part he played. He told me he was the ecologist. I told him I had been one of the trees that he saved. He leaned over at that moment and kissed me.

Up until that moment, I didn't know that he was the same little boy who had played the trumpet and made us late for the camping trip.

My wish came true albeit eight years later. We dated that summer and through the fall. After we broke up, we remained friends for years and worked together for many more summers. We still keep in touch from time to time. He lives in California and he composes music and teaches music lessons. But that's not really the point of the story.

It doesn't matter that many of my other wishes didn't come true. The way I reason away some of those wishes is that fate KNEW that those wishes sucked. The tree knew that if I got what I wanted, I would actually be miserable. I just didn't know it at the time. So the tree didn't grant those wishes. He just let out a tree-like sigh and thought, "better luck with your wish next year, sweetie." And I walked out of the woods none-the-wiser, thinking my wish may come true just like it did with Eric.

But you get the freakin' power of this tree: eight years and the tree brought me together with this fantastic person that I still believe I was meant to know at that time in order to bring me to my current life. And it stands to reason that if it granted me one of my many wishes, it may grant me another.

Which means it's time for a little trespassing.

I mean, if you lived only ten miles or so from this tree, wouldn't you sneak onto the campus one weekend and go running through the split tree and kiss the air? Wouldn't you go and wish for the ultimate wish--the one you know the tree would grant you because it's a damn good wish? Would you risk having to explain to a security guard why you're running around on a private campus and tell them the story about the wishing tree? Knowing, full well, that only a cruel security guard would hear this tale about delayed love (in so many forms. Truly. So. Many. Forms. Of. Delayed. Love) and not tell you to run, jump into the air, blow a kiss. And wish.


Anonymous said...

I'm all for a road trip!

Anonymous said...

You bet I would! I need all the help I can get right now.

Anonymous said...

i wish it was that simple! it's so amazing that happened for you, my wishes are so fleeting in my mind, i now wonder which ones have actually come true.

Anonymous said...

Oh, absolutely! I think wishing and hoping and dreaming are all far above looking like a raving lunatic. Every time.

I love your story.

ms. c said...

I am in love with this story! Wishes do come true, it's so amazing. I know I will think of this every time I make a wish for the rest of my life.
I'm all for the trespassing, as a matter of fact I will accompany you in this crime! It would so be worth it, even if it took eight years for my wish to be granted.

GLouise said...

Love this story!

It left me wanting to go back in time, back to summer camp.

Lisa P. said...

I can't help but think that my wish right now would end up being one of the ones the tree said "better luck next year, kid" to... *sigh*

But yours is a good story.

Anonymous said...

Hell yeah. I'm in.

As a total aside, I loved the image of your tree giving a deep sigh after hearing a sucky wish.

I can just imagine your tree doing that.


Anonymous said...

Oh this is a fantastic story. I was given a box engraved with my name by a wonderful ex (before we were ex's) and I used to write out wishes and put them in the box all the time. That box had a GREAT track record. :) Would it be weird to use it again for wishes with someone else?

I totally think you should risk trespassing for something that good.

Anonymous said...

Your story is so beautifully and vividly written that it makes me wish I lived near a wishing tree as well. Go, risk getting caught, to make a wish that that tree would surely sigh and say, "Yes! That is the kind of wish I am here to grant!"

TeamWinks said...

Could you imagine a man silly enough to argue with a large mass of infertiles? Makes me laugh thinking about it!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story. I'd totally visit that tree. :) This story made me think about wishes I've made in my past that haven't come true and how I'm glad they didn't. Sometimes the wishes we make aren't what will make us happy in the long run and we just don't know it. But there's one wish that I refuse to believe won't give me happiness.

Anonymous said...

Dude, I'd be there all the time. I'd bring your kids and have them make wishes as well. Why not believe? (Of course, I say this right now as my every waking thoughts are filled with negative fears about my pregnancy.)

Anonymous said...

A lot of people say "Oh, that's stupid. Why waste your time?" I say "Why not?" I would totally try it. It couldn't hurt anything (other than that security guy thinking you're crazy).

Anonymous said...

Oh heck yeah! I would be there!
I loved this story! I love special trees! I wrote about a special tree in my blog.