Sunday, December 6, 2015

Tree Sap

I've always been fascinated with the rituals and routines of the human race, how they come and go in the lives of people, and so since i've moved out the great wide open the ritual at ye olde suburban home is to go out and get a live X-mas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, never near a mall, fucking hell i'm not insane, there's a couple of local nurseries close by and out of the way, cut into the forest and rock of southwestern Pennsyltucky, we wander about and pick out the tree and then toss it onto the car where it stays until this old man hauls it up a short flight of steps, and then another, and then places it into it's stand and fucks about until it's straight and then stands back a bit satisfied and let's out a pleasant sigh, yes i've done the exact same thing for four years, sigh and all, you see up until four years ago i had never had a live Chrimbo tree, as a kid it was always artificial and then came a long stretch of years where a fucking X-mas tree was the furthest thing from my mind, unless of course there was booze and blow and loose women and grass and acid and well you get the picture, and no they need not be wrapped, they would be enjoyed and consumed at will and with no regard to specific dates...

There was a half dozen or eight years? that i fucking reveled in the drunken debauchery of some so-called holy days, spent them drunk and covered in sex, taking drugs and watching it snow and listening to the absolute beautiful silence of an empty and desolate city neighborhood, the Rust Belt in winter, the bars of X-mas eve and day, they are a holy place for the dispossessed, the forgotten, the ones who don't fucking care, on those holiest of days for the barflies the music is loud and drinks bought, there's singing and laughing and tears and there is a beauty... ah but those days have begun to set in my mind, cropping up as i lay with a book on my chest and staring at the ceiling, a smile that flickers across the lips, now there are new rituals, ones i hold to tight and dear...

And so the tree goes up and gets watered and there it stands until the next day, then the lights are checked and the bulbs and ornaments (i've learned there's a fucking difference you know) brought out and the boyos begin to decorate the tree with some help from their mom and pop, of course there is much debating on the placing of certain ornaments, strategies are discussed, ornaments arranged and re-arranged, there is a history there, a history to be read on every tree in every house, one just has to see it, here there are nods to Geisel and Sendak, Looney Tunes and futbol, cats and birds, Lord Vader, the golden Steeler ornament that Nick D. bought his daddy, a gift he was so excited to give his old man, a lifelong Browns fan, how could i not smile at the serendipity of it, and now each year he brings it over to me smiling and says, "dad you have to put this one on," and then stands grinning and watching and very proud and happy when it is finally placed, looking at his grin and shining eyes i sometimes wonder why it took me so long to get here?

Standing there watching the tree glow this song came on the radio and i grinned towards the colored lights, during that stretch of X-mas pasts i was listening to a lot of Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt and Wilco, a warehouse stiff slinging weed and pulling for the lumpen prole, a cliche if you will... or just a kid in a man's body making his way and trying to make sense of the the things around him, there were powders and pills, there were long legs and large breasts, there was the three inches in front of my face, at twenty-seven or eight i was a self-righteous motherfucker, now and then i sit next to that guy on a bar stool, i always listen and smile, if i was gonna tell him anything it's that while i know he's full of fists and jizz and white hot love he really knows fuck-all, and then i'd pause and let him tell me what a fucking cunt i am and i'd let him rant at me for a while and when he finally ran out of steam a bit, i'd smile and say, now if you'd have let me finish i was gonna tell you you know even less at my age...

So there it stands, every night after everyone goes to bed i bask in it's lovely glow, i drink a Guinness or stare out the window, on clear nights i pretend to ponder the stars, i scratch the cat between her ears as she sits there content and purring, i love the smell of the tree, i love the lights, i love i get to stare at it for the next month, these are things that the young guy on the bar stool wouldn't have understood, the holiday? the religious connotations? the consumer cult associated with such? it doesn't mean shit to me, the ritual of this habit lies somewhere more Eastern, a feeling of time and place and peace, of joy... and then Stretch or Disaster will run by and i'll catch my breathe... and that night as i stood listening to the song and Nick Disaster stood rambling on about the tree and Stretch went flying up the stairs in search of a book, i could feel the tears well up in my eyes, beautiful fucking tears... and then i remembered that i'm a hard motherfucker and got my shit together real quick... or at least that's what i'll put here.


Exile on Pain Street said...

I hope you cut a piece of the trunk off the bottom so water could get up there. Break off a needle, snap it in half and take a sniff. Not bad, eh?

"...took me so long to get here"

To everything there is a season.

it's nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do


maurcheen said...

When the pupil is ready the teacher will come...or something. I know why my taller brother Jimmy likes you.

maurcheen said...
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