the tree next door

***This post is in response to The Privilege Tree.***

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful forest that grew on the right side of the tracks. Sunlight danced in and out of the curves of branches; butterflies flitted from sunflower to sunflower; fairies sparkled and dropped tiny packages of blessings here and there and everywhere.

Under the canopy of trees, little white boys frolicked and played as boys do. And when the boys wandered too far from the tree and too close to danger, they each retreated quickly to the cool shade of their privilege trees.

Just miles away on the wrong side of the tracks grew another forest. Trees withered and cracked in the oppressive sun; bees and bugs feasted on young innocent skin; brown leaves littered the rocky ground.

A young boy grew a special relationship with one of those trees. He said to the tree, “You are the father I never had.” And after hugging the tree, he pulled away with splinters the color of his own skin. He gathered those splinters and crafted a toy gun. He went to show off to his homies this precious gift from his father. While running along the concrete path, waving in joy his sense of belonging, he was gunned down by police who mistook that gift for a Beretta 92FS. He now lies buried under his special tree.

Just three trees to the left in the same forest, another boy sat under a different rotting tree and organized his school supplies. He looked up at the tree and said, “Don’t worry tree; I’m going to be strong and tall and intimidating like you are.” In class that day, he spoke out of turn because that’s how the trees talk: moved by the wind. When his teacher called him out on being disrespectful, he got scared and wondered what his tree would think of him. And so he argued with her and hit his desk in frustration. She immediately sent him to the dean, who sent him to another dean, and three years later he’s in juvenile detention. He wonders if the branches he sees from his concrete jungle’s window can send a message to his tree. “Tell her I’m sorry.”

In the far back corner of the same forest, another taller boy sat under his decrepit tree. He was shivering deeply from the ice-box-air and ice-cold-culture. With a hungry stomach, he pulled his hood up and set off to the local convenience store. Having asked the tree “What would you like today?” without a response, he thought he’d bring back some sunflower seeds so the birds would be drawn to them both. As he debated to himself about his tree’s favorite flavor, he was shot down by a self-proclaimed security guard. His hoodie now hangs from his tree’s branches, shredded by the gusts.

Not long later, the boys from the other side of the tracks, upon adventuring through, saw the potential in the land beneath the degraded forest. They called their friends who called their lawyers who called their banks who called their architects who called their builders who called their businesses who called their lumberjacks to cut down the aging and ancient trees, and now, what once was the scary forest next door is the newest hip neighborhood: Gentrified Woods.

And there, the boys lived happily ever after in their privileged homes, cut and crafted from the guardians of the oppressed, while their privilege trees applaud.

 

 

 

THIS.

https://crawlingoutoftheclassroom.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/let-them-know-love/

here’s to the dog

Here’s to the dog who transformed from a scared, skinny, reserved mess into a brave, athletic, playful son. When we first met you at the pound, we took you into the yard to see how you’d interact with us. As Dad threw a ball, rather than fetching, you cowered, trying desperately to disappear into yourself.  Our hearts broke at the invisible story that brought you to such a sad place. For years, we didn’t think you had a voice at all. Maybe your box had been removed? Dad would give me such shit for trying to teach you to speak. But you learned, didn’t you. You found your voice and the courage to use it to protect us, to laugh with us, to tell us you were there, to tell us you were hungry. Our hearts applauded your self-discovery. We knew you came into your own when we’d let you loose on at the local park, and you would run like a freak. Unabashed. Insanely. Comically. Gleefully. Our hearts celebrated at the freedom you finally felt in love.

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Here’s to the dog who transformed us into ninjas in the morning. As our bodies eased out of deep slumber, we’d stealthily adjust in the bed so as not to awaken your bladder. Our even worst was when our bladders were awake. We’d lie there in pain, just so we didn’t give you the false impression that our day was, indeed, actually starting. Or sometimes, you went into the ninja business with one of us. So as not to awaken the other parent, one of us would coax you out of the bedroom as sneakingly as possible. But alas, your hummingbird tail always drummed the bed, the walls, the door, our souls: the imperfect perfect alarm clock.

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Here’s to the dog who was my dancing companion. You know as well I do, Momma don’t clean without some good music. And so there I’d be in the living room, blasting Rihanna or Britney Spears or Juanes, and well of course my feet and hips would catch on. And so would yours. You’d look at me from your bed, then your tail would mark time, then you’d raise to your feet and bow your chest to the ground, then you’d come to me, then I’d pat my chest, and what do you know, I’m in my living room dancing with a four-legged companion, upright on your hind quarters, paws on my shoulders, mouth panting in rhythmed ecstasy.

1930457_33430112812_8591_n 1919160_192461262812_7397308_n 38418_439971082812_4160013_n 73041_492507727812_2398029_n 73694_492508172812_1248683_n 261853_10150308992172813_6826574_n 425146_10150641017682813_1306980350_n 1044143_10151737797722813_1331969970_nHere’s to the dog who never met a rock you didn’t conquer. No matter what trail, what state, what adventure, the nearest rock would eventually become your throne as you explored it and scratchily fell off it and climbed atop again and eventually planted your paws like Armstrong on the moon, standing tall and regal, tail in the wind like a flag’s declaration, surveying the conquest.

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Here’s to the dog who was just the goofiest kid who just wanted desperately to be liked by his peers. You hated water until you saw one of the cool kids running around in it. You didn’t understand fetch until you saw another dog doing it, then you tried out for the team but didn’t make the cut. Oh, you’ll eat a treat because that dog ate a treat. You loved to stick your nose in anything, even when you found it being exploded back into your face by a sneeze. You playfully wrestled with the ground. You looked like you were seizing when you tried to roll over on command.

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Here’s to the dog who was loved by all those we loved. You were the calm dog everyone felt comfortable being around. You protected the Doyle girls like they were your own. Your were gentle with my aging parents. You let puppies have their space (we’ll pretend this was your honor, instead of the fact that you were petrified by them). You cradled yourself into our families and into our friendships. You were our son, and everybody knew it. And they loved you.

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Here’s to the dog who loved his brother beautifully. You’d fight, and then you’d paw and makeup. You’d share your toys and your treats and your bed. You kept on eye on him when he walked around the block with us. You were compassionate and kind to him as he aged, and then as he died, and then, you stood steady for us our in grief.

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Here’s to the dog who was your Dad’s favorite. When you’d piss me off, he’d defend you. When I didn’t want to get fur bombed, he’d gather you between his legs and pet you. When I looked and looked and looked, he’d go right for that perfect spot around your ears that made you smile like a druggie. You were his dog, and he was your idol.

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Here’s to the dog who was the soul mate for our lifestyle. When we ran, you ran. When we hiked, you hiked. When we camped, you camped. When we melded into the TV, you slept in your bed. When we took road trips, you curled up in the back seat. When we took naps, you snored. When we lounged outside, you curled up in the grass. When we ate, you waited at our feet. When adventure called, you sat politely while we put on your collar. When home beckoned, you greeted us at the door with that one of a kind hip wiggle of yours.

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Here’s to the dog who made our life complete. Here’s to the dog whom we miss with all of the broken pieces of our heart. May you run, smile, rest, and wag in peace.

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