We were all little underneath the bigness of the tall trees in the Virginian forest, but she was the littlest. Emma was an easy and obvious target for our attention, frolicking her 2-year-old self in the colorful, autumn glory.
I got a little bit caught up watching her eyes dart from leaves to trees to path to playground. I got a little bit caught up chasing the heels of her adventure – a present and ready endeavor. But it wasn’t thoughtful or intentional, because the adventurous spark in Emma’s eyes was intuitive.
What else would one do with a perfect autumn day underneath tall trees filled to brimming with all colors of leaves?
Emma told us, “I’m gonna fly to the treetops and touch them!”
And before I could think to say what I felt (Yes, yes you are!), she mustered a jump and extended her fingers above her head to squeal, “got one!”
Of course she did.
Today, a man was slicing up a giant fish on the sidewalk when I walked by the 2/5 train stop on Winthrop. Today, the sun melted into hot pink on the horizon as I watched from the subway platform on Crescent Street. Today, my students said I looked like I could be from the Bronx or Staten Island. Today, I watched my laundry eat my quarters and swish around in circles while I chatted with my laundry friend Mohammad.
Today, I lived in the city, far away from tall trees and wide eyes, but this past weekend I dropped off the city grid to walk on forest paths and step into the wonder that just comes naturally when you are two feet tall.
Of course she thought to touch treetops. And of course the treetops were within reach.
The world of treetops stopped being reachable somewhere in my adolescence. I guess I started to shrug it off when it became unreasonable and ignorant. I’m not sure how it became less okay to dream, but it just kind of happened. I’m fighting it, but it happens often in my concrete corner of the world.
I’m fighting it, but I need lessons with Emma in the Virginia forest to remind me about mystery and imagination and touching treetops.
Because the people here are mostly more than five feet, so they have forgotten what it is to look up and believe that anything is possible.