Investigating New Territory Through The World of Writing
Descending the long hill into the wide valley, our ears popped. Marin forced a yawn to clear the pressure. This made me yawn, too. I knew it wouldn’t be long until we started counting.
“30!” My voice announced, pouncing on the opportunity to be the first one to predict how many hills we would conquer before we caught sight of the bay. Nina caught right on,
“24!” She chimed in.
Finally, Marin, entranced by her music, figured out what we were doing. Instead of the usual energy for our family tradition however, Marin offered a halfway enthusiastic guess, “26.” Did other families look for landmarks on their trips to beloved places?
With each drop in the pit of our stomachs we felt the rise and fall of the dunes far underneath the pavement. The dunes, anchored years ago, no longer visible, sand covered by the snaking two lane highway we traveled to reach our most prized destination. How many others had traveled this way feeling the same yearning for the north?
In just a few minutes the “shoe tree” would appear on our left. Every time we passed it I puzzled over why people would throw perfectly good shoes into a tree. Yet, year after year, in June, we went down that long first hill looking soon after for the weeping willow of shoes dangling from a dead tree. Where did all those shoes come from? Was there a special age a kid had to be to fling shoes? People could be so random. There were probably enough shoes on that one tree to cover the feet of an entire third world country.
“There it is,” Nina squealed delightedly.
All our necks craned over the front seats searching for a reassuring glimpse of our journey. The trunk of the tree was thick.
“How old do you think that tree is, Mama,” I wondered aloud.
“Well,” Mama paused, “It would have to be at least over sixty or seventy years old,” she stated definitively. Seventy years. Where would I be in seventy years? Would I still be driving with my family over this same road? I hoped so. And what would the tree look like then? Would there be new shoes? As we passed the unusual dressed up tree ornamented with laces holding footwear, I noted the branches reaching out in many directions. They were like the roads we took, winding up, crossing back and forth. Part of me wanted to witness the changing of the tree over the years. Yet, I struggled to maintain the tree in my mind just like it was now, not wanting it to change, wanting everything surrounding me to remain frozen, a perfect picture.
For some reason I felt this incredible buzzing within me. This summer was going to be a really good one. I had a curfew, as long as I was with my older sister. We would spend hours with all our friends talking, laughing, dancing, dreaming. Somehow, I just knew there were going to be heaps of memories to keep us rooted through the next school year.
The tricky part of this summer was going to be keeping Nina happy so I was free to be with Marin and my friends. There were times Marin’s moodiness sent me into complete frustration. Nina’s whining drove me completely insane. It was almost like I was the oldest. Being in a large group felt so easy for me. Before I could even think about it, these hilarious stories just popped into my head and out of my mouth. It gave me private joy holding the power to make my older sister double over laughing with tears streaming down her face while my younger sister ran for the bathroom. I think telling stories was easy for me because I took notice of things. But if you weren’t paying attention, maybe your head was in a book, or you were watching a video, you could miss the shoe tree.