I didn’t realize how straight the roads were in Minnesota, how flat, until I moved to France — where everything is around the corner and uphill.
You could see it from far away. Car window open. Head out the window, I watched for it. Feverishly brushed the long hair away from my view. It stood in the field before my grandparent’s house. One single tree in the middle of all that dirt.
It wasn’t unusual for people to moo out their car windows at the cows in the field. I had been known to do it on occasion. But more than this, I wanted to communicate with the lone tree in the next field. How did he do it? Stand so tall? All alone? So I would wave. Slow motion in the car’s breeze. “I see you.”
For years I waved. The tree got bigger. And so did I. Everything changed around me.
We drove past it the day my mom went to tell my grandparents that she would be alone. She was scared. Unsure. Hands gripping the wheel at 10 and 2. I dried my tears in the open window. I waited for the tree. I reached out my hand. “You grow,” it said, “That’s how you survive. You grow.”
I knew my mother would do the same. I rolled up the window. Turned to her, and smiled. She would be OK. We all would be OK.
There is a small stretch of straight on the road to Vauvenargues. Just a brief moment when the road doesn’t turn. It follows along the field. The field with the single tree. I wait for my moment, as we drive to see Dominique’s mother. I brush the hair from my face, wave, and know — there is nothing here I can’t survive. The road will turn. We all will be OK.