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  • Writer's pictureLucinda Bunn

Living In My Trunk

By Lucinda Bunn

“I am going to call you young tree,” Rocky said. He was my brother-in-law and bagel eating partner in crime. “Your legs go straight down to your feet from the hip with no indents,” he continued. I was 13 and flat chested, so this did NOT nurture the seed in me that was growing into a young woman.

What I heard was, “You don’t look the way you are supposed to. That makes you undesirable and most likely unlovable.”

My mother was a fashionista whose dress shop catered to the wives of Tulsa County’s oil barons and carried mostly sizes 6 through 12. I took from that that these were the only acceptable sizes for a woman. And that if I was going to be loved, I had better be within that range.

I watched my mom, the one who owned the store and all of the clothes in it, wear a skirt that she could not zip up, because she would have to wear a size that said she was bigger to make it fit. She concealed her shame beneath her gorgeous raw silk blazer to match.

I spent many years thinking, “as long as I am pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, funny enough, then I will be enough.” That backfired, when the summer leading up to my 4 week college career gave birth to anorexia. I was trying to live my life from the outside in. Trying to keep the numbers down on the scale and the blue jeans. I did not know how to live from the inside out.

Turns out, I actually am a tree. And I have survived many storms with my branches and limbs bending and bowing this way and that. Sometimes, twigs get snapped off by an angry invisible force. For the longest time, all I saw was me falling apart, leaving me feeling frightened and lonely.

I did not know then that this was nature’s way of pruning me. Taking away the dead attitudes, relationships, viewpoints and beliefs that once nourished me. Replacing them with healthier ones as I matured.

There’s a tree that comes up three stories to the window of my apartment. I never close the blinds there. It’s a constant live metaphor for who and what I am. Atlas, my badass one-eyed cat likes to watch the squirrels on the branches. We call them squirrel tree branch dancers. I’ve had a few squirrels dance on my upper branches, too.

At my core, inside of my trunk, is my situation room. No doors or windows helps keep out distractions. There is happy artwork I painted on the walls. The wood floor has cool rings going around and around, with a stately oak desk and a large elegant gray wingback chair pushed up to it. And if you look closely in the corner of the room, you’ll see crumbs there. Evidence of the tiny acorn I once was.

See that big red phone with no dial on the desk? That’s my lifeline.

I go to my center almost every morning, get comfy in the chair, and I pick up that big red phone. I don’t speak, I simply listen for about 20 minutes or so, connecting with who or whatever is responsible for my being.

Finally, I have come to trust in and rely on my roots. That’s where my real strength is. Even though I cannot see them, they have had many grab ahold moments. When I lost my dad and best friend at age seven, the biggest root corkscrewed straight down into the center of the earth. Tethering me for dear life. More big roots spread when my first marriage ended. Even more when I had breast cancer as a young wife and mother. Another when my marriage of 26 years was over. With each major weather event, those suckers did just that. Sucked up all the nourishment they could and dug down deep to support my soul.

I tend to my tree with yoga to keep my limbs limber, beach walks to make them strong, dancing to enhance my soul and singing to share a joyful noise with other trees. And I got to say, I look forward to my next tree hugger.

I still get nervous when storms come, but then I remember to trust my roots, even though I cannot see them. That is their superpower you know. Incognito mode. And they use that power for good.

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