It finally happened.
I was driving back to Clutter Headquarters after being at the Northern Estate for a few days. I made the final turn which brings the building into view, and that's when I saw it:
The Clutter Tree was gone.
I was stunned, so it was good thing I was sitting in traffic and had a minute to process this news, because I was not a focused driver at that moment. I kept staring at the space where the tree should have been peeking around a corner to say hello, and there was nothing there. My heart broke while I took in the sight in front of me.
This day was a long time coming. Some of you may remember that we fought the powers-that-be about the future of the tree two years ago. They were going to remove it but eventually decided to prune it instead. They cut off about a third of the tree, and I think that made it susceptible to attack from some type of disease. Truth be told, the tree probably died about a year ago, so there was time to prepare for this day, but it's still a punch to the gut.
The tree is one of the main reasons I bought Clutter Headquarters. Its branches wrapped around almost every window here and transformed the view to make it look more like we were based in the woods instead of the city. (I just realized I have to pay attention to my shades, because some of my neighbors now have a clear view in here.) It really looked like it was greeting me every time I came home, which was always such a treat. The tree was there to listen to me during all of the drama I've gone through in the last 15 years, which saved me a fortune in therapy bills. It also provided some great bird-watching. There was a time when I used to be annoyed by all of the birds chirping at 5:00 in the morning but now those feel like the good old days.
Like I said, I knew this day was coming, and yes, you have to deal with change now and again, and all that. Life will go on, but right now, it feels like I lost a member of my family, so consider this re-posting of an earlier tribute to the tree to be its eulogy.
Thank you for everything, my friend. You were the best tree a guy could ask for.
Originally published: 3/11/11
There are many things I like about Clutter Headquarters. There are nine windows, it's in a very quiet building (apart from the neighbors making adult films, but that's a story for another day), and about 75% of anywhere you'd need to go to during the week is no more than a 15 minute walk away (with a T stop one block over to get you to the remaining 25%). Indeed, these are all positive things that I enjoy about the "office," but there's also one thing that's unique to HQ which is also great: I have a tree.
Clutter HQ is located in a corner unit on the top floor of the building, and there's a tree right on the corner. I should know what kind of tree it is, but trees aren't my strong suit. All I can say is that it's big and awesome. It's an impressive tree with many branches, and those branches have an incredible span (even longer than Kevin Garnett's.) In fact, the branches stretch all the way from one end of HQ to the other, covering some portion of eight out of nine windows. No matter what room you go into in this vast mansion, there's a tree branch to greet you.
Waking up in the morning? There are the branches to say hello. Making a nice medium DD to start the day? More branches keeping you company while the water boils. Brushing your teeth and taking a shower? There's a frosted window so people can't see into the bathroom, but if you open it, there are the branches. And finally of course, when clearing out the Clutter, there's the full tree in all of its glory everywhere I look. It's a comforting feeling.
I am the only person who gets the full effect of this tree, which is why I've come to think of it as "mine." The first and second floor occupants only get part of the trunk covering one window. Suckers. (You may think me selfish. I would remind you, this blog represents the views of an only child. What's mine is mine, and by the way, what's yours probably ought to be mine.)
I've watched the tree bend and quiver during all of the storms we've had over the last few months, and it dawned on me how much it would change the nature of this space if it wasn't here. The tree asks nothing of me. It's just present, day in and day out, sort of standing guard over this space. I dig my tree. I have since my first day here.
The tree's 400 branches are all barren right now, but I see all of the buds on each one of them, just waiting for their chance to make their grand entrance for the year. Once the leaves come back, I have great shade in every room. I can hardly wait (because really, who needs to be able to see into the local 7-11?)
I wish I could show you a picture of my tree. You'd understand why I'm such a big fan. Google Maps has a terrific shot of it, so if you know where I am, you can see for yourself (and if you don't know where I am, there's probably a reason I never gave you the address, so just take my word for it.)
It's good every now and again to take a step back and celebrate the simple things in life that we appreciate. I have no idea how long this tree has been here, but it must have been a while at this point. I hope it's here for a many years to come, long after Clutter HQ moves on to a new space. Others should have the opportunity to enjoy it, but for now, it's my tree, and I appreciate it very much.