In 1958 or ’59 when I was sixteen I came up with the idea of replacing my parents’ backyard with a Japanese garden – this in a middle-class neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I even showed a design to my mother, who tried to imagine her smooth green lawn replaced by rocks, gravel, and, somehow, a stream. Even before she said diplomatically I’ll show this to your daddy I saw that the whole idea was unrealistic, and I put out my hand for the drawing, relieved to be denied.
But what if my parents had gone on not only to put in the garden but also to demolish our house and replace it with a Japanese one, donned kimonos and learned Japanese, my dad strutting among the pines like a samurai, mother on bended knees, head bowed?
The house stayed the same, the grass grew and got mowed, I went away to college, my parents divorced.
Now someone else lives there, happy among the cherry blossoms that never fall.