When I was a kid my mom made me promise to buy her a tree she could sit under and enjoy her life. It had white flowers that smelled good. I’m not being over-sentimental here, remembering a conversation I had with my mom more than twenty years ago because of my shame of unfulfilled human potential. No. She actually reminds me of that conversation every once in a while. “You still haven’t gotten me that tree,” she says.
Maybe the store and the tree had become symbols of the peace my parents had always wanted but could never achieve because they were taught, like everyone else, to chase insignificant things like power and respect. But behind these things there’s a life they had wanted but will never get to live: a quiet, simple life, playing with tin soldiers and sitting under a fragrant tree with white flowers, the unattainable gifts of a grateful son.