Friday, November 26, 2010

The Sitting Tree


She's out there somewhere looking for me. She's wondering where I've been. By now she's called all of my friends and they've probably told her roughly the same thing, "Haven't seen him in about a week, sorry, but if he stops by I'll tell him you asked about him again." Yeah, she's out there somewhere looking for me. Searching the places she knows I like to be, driving across town in her white Ford Taurus with her high beams on. She refuses to flick them into low, even after I told her the story of the east coast gang initiations back in the late 90's when gangbangers were riding around with their high beams on and the first person to flash their lights in protest would be hunted down and shot up. That was how they got in, it was proof that they were "down". She didn't care much about east coast stories, she was an Oregon girl through & through.

It's getting colder in the valley, the leaves are beginning to drop and the ground will soon resemble a disjointed nature puzzle in the weeks to follow. I've been sitting here in this exact same spot for 6 days, 11 hours, and 45 minutes. The record is just over a week and I plan on beating it. The Sitting Tree is what they're calling it and so far only eight people have climbed up inside it's branches. The first was an exchange student from Africa, the current record holder. Ekundayo came to America on a scholastic endeavor to learn about our culture and schooling, and he was featured in our local newspaper when he climbed up this tree and stayed there for 7 days, 2 hours,and 24 minutes. His message was simple: sorrow becomes joy. It turns out that that's the meaning behind his given birth name, so I guess maybe he wanted to prove something, I'm not really sure. Six others have since tried to outdo Ekundayo's record, but each came up miserably short. I am the only one since him that has went beyond the four day mark, and I'm nowhere near quitting.

A week ago today, I was sitting at a bar with my girlfriend recounting the story of Zacchaeus and how he climbed up a tree so that he could see Jesus as he passed through his town. She asked why he chose to climb a tree instead of simply walking up and greeting him with a handshake, and I told her it probably had something to do with either shyness or sin. Most people back then were sheepish sinners who felt pretty bad about themselves when Jesus would come to town, so trees must have seemed like a pretty good place to hang out I guessed. She wondered how I knew so much about religion since I often vocalized my disdain for it, and I told her the least religious people on the planet know more about it than the actual followers do. She gave me the same look I receive at least a dozen times a week and we chuckled in between ordering more beers. Amidst my blithe storytelling I had forgot to mention my plan for breaking The Sitting Tree record to her, and now as I sat perched high up in my uncomfortable new home, I realized the errors of my spontaneous ways. She was out there somewhere looking for me.

The channel six news van pulled up and parked beneath me earlier this morning. It's telescoping video camera extended high into the air and came to a stop approximately ten feet away and level with my face. It stayed that way for about 30 minutes, obviously consuming my looks and habits and compiling raw data about the man who likes to sit in tree branches. I imagined my girlfriend and Ekundayo sitting on their couches later tonight watching channel six news, seeing me up there in that tree smoking a Pall Mall and grinning widely at the camera. I wondered which one of them would be more pissed at me? I had abandoned her for an entire week and forgot to leave a note or any other clue to my whereabouts, and I was less than three hours away from beating his tree sitting record. I remember reading in the paper that in the African village he's from the trees are considered lifelines; that when terrestrial predators appear, his people would race up the nearest tree to escape the threat. I envied his story because mine was far less appealing: I was simply bored and yearning for attention. And my girlfriend was out there driving around town looking for me. I'm going to have a lot of explaining to do when I finally climb down from this tree. As it turns out, Zacchaeus and Jesus had a similar heartfelt discussion over dinner and a movie later that night, so maybe I can learn from history and everything will be well. But for now I have 2 hours, 12 minutes, and 44 seconds to go before I send Ekundayo crying back to Africa. Yeah that's right, buddy, sorrow indeed becomes joy.