“Have you ever wondered why… why we live like this? Not just us, but everyone. It’s weird.”
The heat outside was unbearable that day. Colorado winters can drop down to temps that would scare away a bear, and now that I think about it, it does. But people forget that summers in some Colorado counties can be just as hot as Arizona. All the birds and clouds must have been blown away by the hot wind, allowing the sun to glide freely onto every building, tree, or exposed scalp of unfortunate pedestrians.
I turned to look at Skylar, contemplating her question while surveying every dimple and curve wrapped inside the light skin of her face. She was the most beautiful girl I'd ever met. Not just because of her looks, or style. A mystical feeling creeps around me like mist every time I see her. The mist never quite touched me, but I could sense it’s allure coaxing and circling my mind.
“What do you mean?”
We sat there a minute, legs dangling from the open face of the treehouse, watching the endless rows of cars go by on the street behind the fence of her backyard. We sat, listening to the constant whir of engines, all varying in volume and tone but still merging into one ugly crescendo.
“Even when I was little, I always thought about why humans do such boring, pointless things. In the past, people would always live off of the land around them, sustainably. They would put so much energy and effort into doing things that, now, we do in seconds without even really trying.”
Her point perplexed me. What was she saying, that we’re lucky for having so much ease in our lives, or wondering how we got to this point? Skylar always made me think about things that I would have never imagined would be so important. She made me feel connected to something, even if I had no clue what that something was.
Before I could repeat my previous question, she continued her statement.
“We’re all so disconnected, you know.” Her dazzling, blue eyes darted up to mine, holding me in a sort of concentrated trance. “We’re humans, and we're organic beings. Or at least, I think we still are. We were meant to live hand and hand with nature, but we don’t. Instead, we live our lives in a shielded bubble, protecting us from a world of harder work and greater sacrifice. Except the work is for a good purpose, and the sacrifice is only the risk of losing touch with the bubble.”
At this point, I twisted my face into an expression of confusion. I’ll admit, I was becoming a little nervous. I had no idea where she was going with this conversation, and the topic of life always made me feel uneasy.
“I don’t understand what you're talking about. What’s wrong with this, err, bubble?”
Skylar sighed and leaned back against the wall next to her, pulling her feet up inside the treehouse, facing me. I followed with a similar action.
“Everyone goes to school as a child and learns many pointless things they'll never need. Then they get older, get a job, and work mindlessly in a field they’re not interested in and benefits them in no way except getting paid. They go home and sleep at night, dreaming about a gigantic mansion, money they’ll never spend, and new devices that will make their life even easier and more purposeless than it was before. It’s the life that everyone seems to want, but I don’t understand why.”
I watched her tuck a brown lock of long, wavy hair behind her ear.
“I don’t see what’s so wrong with that. Wouldn’t you want to be rich and live in a house with everything you want? You wouldn't have to work as hard to do anything at home, and you could do whatever you wanted to. That sounds nice to me.” I said.
Skylar’s eyes left mine and glided to the floor. “Yeah, whatever. Never mind.”
Inside, I screamed and panicked, thinking, “Look what you’ve done now! You messed up, you messed up! She’s mad, you can tell.” I decided that the best thing to do was to keep talking.
“I mean, I don’t really know what I want. I haven’t spent a lot of time, you know, thinking about this. What do you want for your life, if you don’t like the one you’re describing?”
She looked back up at me, and I thought “Yes, yes!”
“Well, no, you would think I’m crazy. All my friends do.”
“I would not! Come on, just tell me. I promise I won’t judge you.”
“Alright.” She muttered softly. “I guess I have this dream. I want to have a big impact on the world, but I also want to have the best life that I can get. It would kind-of take a while to explain, so if you're okay with listening for a bit…”
Skylar paused and fiddled with her hands, so I nodded, letting her know it was okay to continue.
“I want a simple life. Some people call it slow living. I want to live deep in a forest, away from all the cities. I want to live off the grid in a tiny house on wheels. I would do a bunch of things, like hiking, reading, widdling, and gardening. I want to be an author and have a zero waste shop in the nearby town, and to get around I would usually use a bicycle or walk, and rarely use a car. But I would still have an electric car for long-distance traveling, or probably a truck so that I could pull the house on wheels. I want to travel to foreign countries and visit all the places I dreamed about as a kid. I would own one big fluffy dog and he'd come with me everywhere. I would grow and hunt my food and cook it all myself. And as for my lifestyle, I am going to be a minimalist, zero waste, all that stuff. I’ll be such a minimalist that the tiny house will seem big, and there will be lots of space on the floor to stretch and do yoga. And at night, before I fall asleep, I can watch the starry sky through a window above my bed."
Skylar’s mouth opened, but she seemed to change her mind, and awkwardly swept her gaze back to her fidgeting hands in her lap. I could tell she had something more to say.
“You can keep going if you want to. I like listening.” I said. My heart fluttered when she looked up and smiled, before continuing her fantasy.
“Well, I guess I… I want to find someone that would want the same thing. We could live together and do all these things. I don’t know if anyone could ever like me that way, but it would be nice.”
The corners of her lips lifted in a smirk-ish-smile for a second and then dropped back down. It was like that nervous expression you might make when saying hello to a stranger on the subway. The sun continued to beat down on the city below, but there was a cool, refreshing shadow up in the treehouse.
“I think that sounds amazing,” I said. Skylar’s dream warmed my heart. I hadn’t ever heard of anyone who wanted to live that way. Now that I was hearing it from Skylar, I realized that it might be better than I thought. It also made me feel like I had some sort of invisible connection to her, one that you get when you learn a friend’s deep secret.
Skylar smiled fully now. “Really?”
I sighed and stalled by sitting still and listening. Although I knew it was there, I no longer noticed the ugly cacophony of engines passing by. Instead, I sensed the leaves above us lightly rustling and tapping each other in the slight breeze.
“I want to live that dream with you.”