This walk I took that day: a winding, twisted path through half-faded memories and fractured emotions, engraved new scars on a forty-year-old man still struggling with the all that never was, and frustrated by the need to deal with it. I came here for a moment of solace, but that moment was a fragile thing, compared against the history of this place and its echoes across time.
This is the courtyard around the fountain at the Alamo mission: a place where many people died, long ago. There were many days in my youth, when I was supposed to be “helping” at my adoptive father’s office at City Hall, when I’d steal some time away and come sit under this tree, just sitting, listening, and sometimes comparing the silence to how it might have sounded when the fighting was all done. Yes, I was a morbid kid, internally, anyway. My parents would have been amazed had they known what I was doing: the just sitting, just listening, just…being. Odd things for a clinically hyperactive child.
When I was eleven or twelve, I ran away from home. This was the first place where I stopped. The courtyard was very different, late at night, and not at all welcoming. It was a foreshadowing I failed to recognize until I visited it again, on this day, but it was also a temporary thing. I had always brought my fears to this tree, but that night, I made new ones beneath it. It was the night I realized that eventually, I would very much be on my own in truth, and that I was woefully unprepared to be the man that I would become.
I took this photo after a drive through my old neighborhood, and past my childhood home a couple of times. I couldn’t stop there, of course; home hadn’t been home since 1985: nearly twenty-two years, on this particular day. So, I came here to find a moment’s peace. Of all the images that haunt me in my dreams, and which ultimately faded after my visit that day, this tree still rides along with me, and this place still frames some reveries.
Of course, it looked very different, that late-winter noon in 2007. I probably hadn’t been there since 1983 or 4, truth told. My ties with my adoptive family were incredibly strained by my first year of high school, and they eventually disowned me in 1993. But still, that old oak greeted me with open arms, rooted in the memories of the dead and forgotten, very much like I am rooted still in the abandoned memories of a former self.
And I didn’t become the man I thought I would be, on that night, long before. It felt like I needed to let my old friend know this. Thus I indulged myself, but it was what I needed at the time.