For five years in my late 20s I worked for a real estate investor in a small office.
During the good weather months, which is most months in Southern California, I would take my lunch to a park down the street where I could eat alone and cry.
The park was in the middle of a residential area, surrounded on every side by houses. A giant lake of perfectly cut grass with small hills that formed pockets of deep. Mid-day during the week there was barely anybody ever there except me. A mom and her kid every now and then over on the side that had the playground equipment. I stayed on the far other side of the park, under a giant tree that had spikes on its green trunk. I would unwrap my sandwiches from the foil, and eat in the grass, cry. Lay down in the cool of the grass, stare up at the leaves of the tree. Same spot, every day I went. Nothing much changed, the tears and the sandwiches always tasted the same.
I still have a picture of this view from the grass on my Instagram account. It’s dated July 5, 2012. Seven years ago. I believe in seven year cycles, things invariably change for me every seven years. It’s like an itch that becomes present, gaining urgency until I scratch it.
I think often about deleting my Instagram pictures from so long ago, but times like these I’m glad they exist. To remind me of the “me” that used to exist. The version of me that makes me want to cry for her. Those years of my life were the darkest. I don’t think of them much now, I don’t see much of a point. Today I was sitting outside on the last ten minutes of my lunch today and it came back to me out of nowhere. I like to think it’s some sort of memory purging function my mind has, bring to the surface and release type thing.
A little after that picture was taken, I moved into a new apartment with a partner. Six months after that I quit that awful job and focused on becoming a librarian. I did big scary things, and the roads I took were terrifying and exalting all at the same time. I have ended up here and now, which seems like a universe away from that park. So much has changed in those seven years, beyond even those giant leaps I took. A lot of times it felt like it was all falling apart when it was really coming together.
I’m grateful, but itchy. Maybe that’s why the tree popped up.