Under One Tree
Just me, a professor and the tree.
One early summer of my life, changed my life. I was there at the campus, waiting on my new girlfriend. I sat beneath an old tall tree, leaned against the trunk and just watched people. I was a bit early. I really didn't want to be late and disappoint her and I thought she might appreciate it.
People were walking from morning classes and to afternoon classes. I noticed an old professor going up the walkway. He looked like Einstein with red hair. He stopped, turned and looked at me. I heard the word, "Reader" in my mind. It was an old voice, an ancient voice.
I felt uncomfortable and turned my attention to the lower limbs and leaves of the old tree. I soon found myself looking at the professor again. He had taken a few more steps but was still looking at me. "Reader," shouted in my mind! He then nodded, smiled and walked around the corner of the West Hall building.
It was a strange experience and even disturbing to hear a voice in my mind. I thought that the old guy must have been telepathic or something like that. Soon after, I saw two guys walking from the West Hall doors. One was talking and the other listening. I could hear what the listener was thinking.
"If you would pay your part of the rent, we could afford to go to the Steppenwolf concert tonight. I am so sick of you being such a loser", was what I was hearing in my mind. It was not actual words. It was like emotion changing into words. The listener was smiling but it was a fake smile. They were both laughing as they disappeared into the parking lot.
I looked up at the massive limbs of the old tree and wondered at the sun light skipping past the leaves as they were moved by the slight breeze. This new experience felt a lot like that. Emotions of people were skipping through the air into my mind.
I began to hear emotions from people walking by. Some were nice, some serious, and a few that were vulgar. I was really getting in to this new discovery of mine!
A girl wearing a white blouse tucked into a plaid skirt walked by and shyly smiled at me. She looked pretty modest compared to the other girls on campus. Her brown bangs just touched the top of her glasses and her hair draped her shoulders. I smiled back at her and it was strange that I didn't pick up any emotion words.
I watched her walk to the curb side and stand as if she was waiting on someone. I returned to my reading of people but often turned to look at her. Strangely, she kept getting prettier with each glance.
The wait was over, really over.
Finally, my girlfriend came out of the door. She was with two friends and they all were totally engrossed in a conversation. There she was, my strawberry blond bombshell. We had been on a few dates. We had lots of fun and she told me just last night that she really, really liked me. She saw me and gave me smile and a wave.
I stood up and leaned on the old tree to look cool for her, of course. She was walking towards me, talking with her friends while grinning and giggling. I read her emotions. "I can't believe he is here. Sure, I wanted him to pick me up but geeesh, stay in the damn car. Don't be an eager loser waiting under that stupid tree", is what I read from her.
She was smiling at me all the while. I instantly felt broken. I made up a lie and told her that I just stopped by to tell her that I couldn't go to the beach this afternoon. She looked a little surprised but said it was fine because she wanted to spend some time with her best buds anyway.
I stood there under the tree as she blew me a kiss and waved goodbye. I acted like I caught it and as she turned away I crushed it like a Dear John letter. I dropped it to the ground. She rode off with her giggling posse in one of her best bud's mommy's classic Thunderbird. I was a little upset that I wasn't really upset.
Feeling better by the minute.
I folded my arms, leaned back on the tree again and began to continue entertaining this new gift. There was joy, stress, pain, humor, sadness, worry and each had their own mixture of questions and answers. "Mind if I join you," came out of the blue as I was looking at a gay couple sharing a book an smiles on an iron bench.
She walked in front of me and smiled asking,"Is this your tree or can anyone share the shade?" I saw it was the girl I kept glancing at. I grinned and answered, "Why yes, this is my tree but you are quite welcome to the shade." She introduced herself as Grace and told me that her ride didn't show up again. We talked a little about the campus and her classes. All through the conversation, I couldn't read a thing about her. Then it hit me. I didn't need to read her. She was being herself.
We were under one tree