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It's hazy today, and there's a grayish pink tint to the horizon. The humidity makes everything look fuzzy and soft, almost like an impressionist painting. Somewhere to my left, a cardinal trills.

I wish it would rain. I pull out my phone, dial my mom, then put it back in my pocket when she doesn't answer. She's probably in her garden now.

She sends me pictures sometimes, and I marvel at how different things look compared to when we moved. Our sweet little baby looks so small next to those trees. My memories are fuzzy, but it's a stark contrast to my experience with them as a small child. I remember the hundreds of scrawny twigs she planted when we moved, and how, even with them being a third or so of my height, they seemed so fragile and insignificant. But now, they're so tall and beautiful, made strong by enduring years of hurricane-force winds.

Mom worked so hard for those trees. She used to pack my brother and I in the old blue van and we'd make multiple daily runs to the park, The Pantry, or the Weed and Pest Co. to fill the plastic water tank my parents kept in the back. We went our first 18 months in that dusty little settlement without any running water (something that would remain an intermittent issue even to the present), and had to transport it from town. My mother watered every single one of those pitiful sticks by hand, spending hours carrying 5 gallon buckets from the van and back. Even as a toddler, I thought she was crazy. 20 years later, however, my parents have a yard filled with (comparatively) towering giants; a strange, leafy island in an endless ocean of grass.

I dream about making my own little forest someday, should I ever buy a house with a yard or a small patch of land. I've been looking at Zillow a lot lately. I love my little apartment but I definitely want my own little kingdom too; something that I can do whatever I want with. I'd have a swing in the yard, and roses, columbines, and bleeding hearts everywhere. Maybe a wrought-iron fence to keep the fae-folk out, and glowing rocks for the driveway. I'd hang windchimes on the porch and solar lights in the trees, too, I think, and put a hammock on the porch.

I don't know how I'd do the interior, but it will be magical. I imagine all of the designs I would paint on the ceilings, and how I'd want my bathrooms to look. I'd definitely need to restore my clawfoot tub. There would also be a cozy kitchen space for borscht or hosting wine and paint nights (a house would definitely be better than all of squeezing together at Justin's), and I would want a library with a cozy sofa and deep pillows. More than anything though, I would want it to be a place where everyone was welcome and felt loved, the way my house was growing up. It was always messy, but what makes a house a home is not the way it looks or how well-kept the living room is. It's love and being somewhere you're welcome, wanted, and comfortable enough to be yourself.

For now, I'll paint my pretty trees and imaginary houses. It'll happen someday. It's enough to dream for now, and to be able to live vicariously through little angels, gazing up through the leafy canopy with wonder.


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