I remember every variation of the ground under my feet, every bend in the path, the stinging nettles, the Queen Anne’s lace crowding the edges of what was mown, the old, sour apple trees hovering like grandmothers, boxed in by the deepening forests of darkening thorn trees that held them back. It was a bramble of a woodland path I wouldn’t give up on seeing tamed for my children to play in.
The work of cutting into the overgrown orchard, removing stones, mowing inches at a time, and the scars I endured from the things who resisted me or fought me for their ground--digging their dogmatic, weedy roots so deep down, their origin was almost unseeable, bonded me to the place. I was determined to see it restored. My scrapes with the thorny, stinging, beastly vegetation became the visible wounds of listening to close-minded people for far too long. The wild orchard and the winding path into the dark woods became my battleground for taking back my life, my truth.
When the trail was made, and the leaves had fallen into winter’s hush, a knowing rose up inside the quiet. I walked that path with the hope of someone on my heart. I’d pulled out heaps of fundamental weeds, removed so many blockages--I could see so clearly now. I wandered far into the dark woods, off the trail, way down into a ravine, rushing with bright spring water. I was the spring. I cracked open in the deepness; I could feel myself stepping out of one reality and into another.
Along the walk back home, I stopped to hug my favorite tree—the one who’d
managed to grow perfectly tall and slender despite the surrounding thorn groves; the one whose body held all the secret discoveries I’d made about myself. Embracing my poplar friend, a great sob left my throat. Whatever had been clamping my vocal cords loosed, and the words, “I’m gay,” poured out into the bosom of the tree. Devastation overtook me, as I sunk to the ground knowing what this would mean for my life, my family.
My tree said gently, “What is gay?”
“It means I love a woman. I’m in love with another woman. I love a woman romantically.” I over-explained with mortification.
My tree just stood there, unwavering, “So, you love.” They said matter-of-factly.
I opened my eyes slightly, slowing my sobs of grief. The sunlight filtered through my tree’s leaves casting rainbows into my teary vision.
My tree said, “Love is love dearest.”
I sank into them now, into the idea of love being love, into her, into myself, and took my first knowingly gay breath. It felt crisp and true.
Back through the tunnel of grandmothers I walked, now blooming in white aprons, out into the pasture, tamed and mowed, around the bend by the pond, up the hill past the garden, up to the house to meet my fate head-on with bravery, with self-confidence, with honesty, and most of all with love.