When I was younger, possibly around nine or 10, I wanted to live in the forest. Somewhere like the Ozarks or the Yukon Territory. My father had a stack of old National Geographics he bought from the library for a dollar each and I'd comb through them like a saw, not even reading the words.
I wanted a house in the middle of tall trees that blocked all sunlight except for the most slender rays. In the morning, I'd look out the window and the sunrise would appear as golden spears. Like God.
And it'd never rain. The drops would be caught and broken by all the leaves and limbs – the canopy would be just as thick as the undergrowth – and would land like small needles that evaporated as soon as they touched the heat of my skin. Fog arriving in reverse.
In the backyard view of our new home, outside my window, there was a line of trees. They belonged to the house behind us. He planted them in neat rows that went along his perimeter, right next to the fence. They formed a wall against outsider eyes. I use to be able to see through them. I'd watch him smoke cigarettes while sitting shirtless on a lawn chair outside. A landslide of skin toppling over skin. Or walk his dog. Once, I saw him argue with his wife. He threw her down on the grass and raised his fist. I pulled the blinds down quickly. Most of the time, I saw nothing. As I got older, the trees would grow to be so thick that they became one with each other.
In our own backyard there was an Asian pear tree and next to it, a cherry tree. The cherry tree never grew. Never bore any fruit. It was suppose to be cross pollinated. But we grew it alone without its pair. When it started to whither, it left a strange smell that sifted through the living room window. My father dug it up, chopped the limbs into pieces and left them on the sidewalk to be picked up with the cut grass from the lawnmower.
At the front of the house, along the newly paved street and constructed homes, there were also a few trees. These had slender trunks to keep them from digging up the concrete on the driveways as they grew older. Being next to all that gray made them look sickly. Some had crutches and were forced to grow upright with black pieces of rubber that stretched across their bodies.
These forests could never compare to the ones in my imagination. Mine would be tall. Magisterial. Each piece always standing alone. Yet, their uniformity in being solitary made them cohesive. Alone but in the company of others. There would be no animals. No bird calls. Any sound besides the wind above the highest leaves would be a profanity.
Only myself and my house, living underneath everything, would be allowed there. At night, the only thing that you'd be able to see would be a small light from my window. A glow in the darkness. The only thing. No one would know how to get there. How to reach it. Because this would be my forest. And my house. Anyone else can look. They can search. They can keep walking towards it. But they'd never find it.