4.29.2012

184 - The Grand Canyon

Shorts - children's alligator-print pajama pants with a happy face button cut into shorts, Shoes - Palladium, Tank top - vintage, Vest - vintage DIY cut-off, Jacket - vintage boyfriend's

I recently developed a strange fixation with nature. Given that the past twenty years of my life have been devoted to obtaining all available technological assistance in an effort to avoid the earth's natural state at any cost, this recent interest borders on fetishistic. How foreign the allure of the metropolitan tree, grounded in that seemingly inadequate plot of dry brown earth, yet reaching ever upwards, as though it might find its destiny there in the skies above.

This poetic desperation occurred to me one day on my AM walk from my high-rise apartment building to the nearby corporate approximation of a neighborhood coffee shop. On any typical morning, this walk is spent with my nose buried in my telephone screen. Plastics and metals and wires and symbols: these are the elements of which I am composed. However, on the day in question, my wires had failed me, for my telephone had neglected to charge through the night. I had gotten no further than ten paces from my door when my telephone's screen withdrew from our ritual, turning black. I pressed at the telephone's two buttons. "Come on," I coaxed it. Press. Press. I admired the telephone screen's decisive unresponsiveness. How admirably un-human of it. I stared at the phone with impatient expectation. It stared back, the faceless screen reflecting my own eyes back at me. Blink. Blink. Press. Press. Sigh. This was going to be a long walk.

I looked up and around me at the bustling neighborhood, my eyes settling on a small tree sprouting up from the sidewalk sea of concrete. Though unimpressive in scale, it was leafy and green, as I'm told trees are intended to be, and rather ambitious in its pursuit of its natural destiny. It struggled to break the confines of the city's cold grey granite grip, its vertical ascent an obscene display of aspiration.  The whole situation reeked of youthful idealism. "How grotesque," I remarked to the tree,  which had apparently not yet experienced enough adolescent disappointment to know that this struggle would end in tragic status quo. I stared upon the tree with momentary pity before continuing along my journey.

As I returned home from the coffee shop (which, for the record, is just the type of place who will distort your morning caffeine rations into an ice cream-like concoction so that you do not have to experience the bitter taste of its containing natural bean's roast), I stopped at the tree again. Its leafy and green appendages swayed in the gentle breeze, a smattering of color on a calculated and colorless world. "You do not belong here," I whispered to the tree, sharply looking left and right to gauge the perceptions of passerby. Either out of determination or audacity, the tree simply sat there, continuing to grow. I stared at it, perplexed but intrigued, and wondered where it did belong.

"The palm trees," I told my boyfriend at home that night, remarking about the many tall palm trees that dotted our city's steel facade. "I thought they seemed like a sad afterthought. Pathetic, really. However, they are really very brave, you know?" My boyfriend nodded a half-hearted agreement, his eyes fix on the screen of his computer. "They make the most of the situation, is all," I continued. "It's all rather noble, if you think about it." I sat down at my own computer to Google pictures of Redwoods.

This previously-out-of-character elemental voyeurism developed suddenly, a naturally-transmitted disease on my typically clear field of interest. Images were assessed. Fauna was engaged. Distant mountain ranges were appreciated. And, last weekend, a car was rented and plans were made. "We're going to The Grand Canyon," I told my boyfriend, my eyes glazed over in a state of shocked enthusiasm. "We are leaving Friday night after work, driving straight through, and spending the weekend. We are going to climb on something and look at large things in all of their grandeur." My boyfriend, having suffered through nearly a year of my inane ramblings about a variety of painfully outdoorsy US tourist destinations, had apparently developed Stockholm Syndrome. "I'll grab my camera," he replied.