This is a moment where one wonders to themselves: “How in the hell did I end up here?” It seems pretty implausible to be chained to a tree trunk, unable to move, listening to the screeching hiss of a saw blade at top speed, just below my feet. But, I guess that’s life: unpredictable.
I was bored, you know. The same four walls, day-in, day-out. I really do hate this mess I live in. After hours of meticulous cleaning, I sit in my squeaky leather armchair staring at my accomplishment, and am momentarily satisfied. My vacuumed high-pile tan carpeting (those spots are from before I’d moved in, I swear) stand at proud attention. Sunlight pours through a “streak-free shine”. Everything in its place. I hate it.
My house is always a disaster two days later anyway, so I just need to get out once in a while. I’m driving streets that I’ve known since my mom forced me to read off the Thomas Brothers Guide to her; funny to think now, limited to one final road toward a certain acuminous end, that I would become bored of these streets. Perhaps I’d like to see snowfall just once, or crunch through leaves in the fall. The endless, rolling brown hills, the fading gray freeways, the yellow lights on a smog-filled night ignite little passion. Everywhere, imprints of memory dot intersections and back alleys, and are yet sharper than the splinters in my back, even the rotating death at my feet.
It gets so tiring to live life one thousand times, as though reflections of a shitty childhood are jewels to be flashed across endless pity parties. Though I know these roads, I am at all times, running as far as the wheels of a high-mileage Nissan can carry me on $15, give or take. San Diego is my old-ball-and-chain, to whom I return whether or not she cares. If only I could meet someone new. It seems important to note that my mom and I moved 8 times between my 5th and 16th birthdays, but always within a three-mile radius. At least when I do meet my end by steel claw with weeping sap filling my nose, I will have been in one place for quite a while – even if that is tied to a tree.
So what, I deserve my fate of being sawed in half, because I am perpetually unsatisfied? I find that to be poor logic, despite how willing I am to blame myself for the circumstances of my life. How about this: a social worker once asked me why I need to be different? Is there even an answer to this? I think, therefore I am weird? Hmm, perhaps. So, I like getting away from the mess that reminds me that I am not alone, and maybe I want to stop in at a REALLY shady-looking bar off Old Highway 80 and order onion rings. Maybe I do sell my furniture on Craigslist, and give them my actual address. Is the logical conclusion an approaching saw blade? Or do I just need to be different? Unexpected?
When I was sixteen, I got punched in the head and passed out. When I woke up in the hospital, the staff called my mom who came only to tell me that I was kicked out of her house because I was too much trouble. I elevated and lowered my feet one-hundred times with the remote, while glaring out the window overlooking the 5; meanwhile, my mom took all of my life into garbage bags, and left them on my dad’s front porch. She did the same with me once I was released from the hospital – minus the trash bags. It’s funny that I was so easily cut off.
My dad never made me go back to high school after I moved in. I guess I was going against my own expectation of never getting sucker-punched in East County, or maybe my art teacher’s expectation of me going to the Art Institute. Never surrender to expectation, I say. I stole blue hair dye from Thrifty’s, and drank vodka in the Carl’s Jr. play place; so what? Was it to be contrarian, or this need to be different? If so, I should of course die tied to a log because it is the last place I would have expected to be. Still, I am unsure if this is enough of an explanation on how I got here, inching ever closer to my fate, that hot wind of destruction blowing over me.
I should say: “I drove to the forest, found myself a tree that I fell in love with, and when THE MAN came to cut it down, I chained myself to it in protest, only to find the joke’s on me!” But, that really isn’t how it happened at all. Truth be told, my city was a logging community and citrus orchard before I was born – the last in Greater San Diego. After my mom graduated high school, there were no trees left here. When I dropped out of high school, there was a giant, plaster lemon in the center of town to remind us of the trees that once were. I assume that memories can’t hurt something always changing, always in motion. So here I am, moving toward that saw-blade. I feel the slicing wind at my heel, the sound of death penetrating my fearful soul. How did I end up here really? I guess this is it; or I could just let go of the chain.
Dee Richards is a writer, parent, and LGBTQ+ feminist badass in Southern California. She/They are published in Epoch Literary Journal, The Acorn Review & Crush Zine, in association with the Toronto Bi Arts Festival.
Image via Pixabay