Monday, February 03, 2014

What I Want Instead

by Zinta Aistars
Published in GERM Magazine
February 2014

Why would they be surprised that I fell in love with a chain saw? Instead of dolls when I was little, instead of pink and frilly ruffles and bows, instead of flouncy dresses and stick-thin high heels, instead of giggly small talk, instead of nodding prettily to everything the cute boy says, with a seductive whisk of my hand to toss my long blonde hair over my shoulder, just so, just so that it catches the light and maybe blinds him into worship.
I don’t collect boys. I don’t collect anything. Collecting things, that’s like holding onto the past. I don’t live in the past. There’s too much muck there, and I have worked too hard and too long to get the muck off my boots. I leave pinning butterflies to corkboards to others, scientists or sociopaths, doesn’t matter, not my business, no more than I want anyone paying business to mine.Jeune_fille_aux_champs_(Evariste_Carpentier)
I’ve been called a tomboy, and I shrug that off, but I will tell you now: I don’t appreciate that tag. I mean, think about it. Why give a girl a special name for liking a chain saw more than a bow in her hair? A girl can be one or the other, or neither, or both. If she wants to saw down trees in high heels and mini skirt, well, more power tool to her.
So I climb trees, and I have since I was a kid. Scraped knees don’t scare me, didn’t then, don’t now. When I was a kid, I’d sit in the highest branches of an oak tree across the street from our house, swinging my legs beneath me, singing at the top of my lungs. Scared the squirrels, no doubt, but I had all this music in me I just had to get out.
Now when I get that chain saw humming, I hum along, too. It’s satisfying work. Not just sawing up chunks for the wood stove, piling them up neat as a stack of Lincoln Logs in the wood bin, but pruning the tree of what is healthy and what is not, shaping it up to be at its best, keeping it clean of pestilence and disease.
My mama didn’t even know what an arborist is when I told her that’s my life ambition. Her face kind of squinched up, her eyebrows doing a curl that arched over her squinched eyes going dark.
An arbor-what? But why? She wanted to know. When I tried to explain, I ...

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