To my sister and me, springtime meant something special when we were growing up: the start of another season of hide and seek.
There was a gap in the fence between our backyard and the neighbours’. We’d spend whole days outside with the kids next door, running between the front and back of our houses, and over to the park. Through July and August, they were our best friends.
Our parents, I guess, were friends too. My parents would go to their parents’ Christmas parties. My dad and their dad coached us in t-ball together.
But us kids didn’t give much thought to that. We only really cared about each other, and about hide and seek.
That is, until the fight about the tree.
An old maple tree sat between our yards. The fence stopped on one side of it and continued on the other. The trunk was more on our property, but the branches leaned over to the other side.
Our neighbour, who was sick of the falling leaves making a mess of his yard, chopped half of the branches off one day while my parents were at work. He cut straight up, in line with the fence. The beautiful old maple (my dad and I used to lie on the grass and look up at it) was now a deformity.
I remember my mom crying. I remember my dad storming outside to yell at our neighbour while my sister and I watched from the window.
A surveyor came by to mark the property line. It turned out that, because of the trunk’s location, the tree was ours. It was a small victory for my mom and dad. The tree’s branches have since grown partway back.
But I don’t think my sister and I played much with the kids next door after that. Our parents stopped speaking, too. A larger fence went up between the yards. The gap was filled in.
We grew up. Some of us moved out and went to university.
And now, I don’t really see those kids anymore. I don’t know what they’re doing. I don’t know what they’re like.
I don’t know what I’d say if I saw them again. Our families are feuding. But, personally, I’ve got nothing against them.
I wonder how they feel about me and my family.
I think about getting in touch with them sometimes. I could add them on Facebook, and I could send them a message.
But every time I go home, and I see the way my parents avoid eye contact with the neighbours, I’m reminded of the day our tree got cut in half.
So I guess that’s why I don’t reach out to my old friends.
I guess the conflict, no matter how long-standing or far removed from my personal life, made too deep of an impression on me.
But I’m trying every day now to get past it.