THE DAWES ARBORETUM
I've never been outside before.
Not truly. Not in a way that acquainted me with the nonhuman life of this world. A walk down the block in urban Ohio is probably greener than most metropolitan areas, but not my block. My block was too far from the grocery store. My block was littered with trash like soggy paper, candy wrappers, and half-empty bottles of orange Faygo. The roots of trees grew through the cracks in the sidewalk, hard under the wheels of my bicycle as I bounced over them.
One tree. Two trees. Three trees.
Three bumps in the sidewalk and then homes stacked on each other all the way down to the bar next to the alley.
I didn't even know what trees they were, only that one dropped big needles at its base that poked my bare feet every summer and another turned yellow every Fall.
I'd heard people talk about trees maybe. They'd say names like oak, pine, and maple. Sometimes even hickory or aspen or birch. But these were just words. And trees were just alien creatures that fell in a forest so far away they certainly did not make a sound.