Mark Reads “How Lovely Are Thy Branches”: Chapter 2

In the second chapter of “How Lovely Are Thy Branches,” CHRISTMAS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards

Oh, I am bursting at the seams at the thought of getting to experience my first true winter since I was eight years old.

I am pretty sure that I’ve mentioned this story, so excuse me if you’ve heard it before. Years ago, on my last major tour of North America, I had an early flight from Montreal to Syracuse, New York. Montreal is one of my favorite cities in the world, and I had an incredible time there meeting new folks and seeing a few familiar places. I stayed at a hostel in order to cut down the cost of that massive tour, and I remember getting back to my room to find it unlocked and the door wide open. Thankfully, my suitcase was still there, but that little panic attack caused my anxiety to spike, and it made falling asleep difficult.

That’s important to note because my event went quite late and my alarm was set for four in the morning. That was when I had to get up, get dressed, pack up any straggling clothes, and go catch the bus that would get me to YUL in time to check in, make it through security, and then fly to my connection in Vancouver. Not a long flight, of course, but it was still a big deal and I was slightly nervous about it. INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS ARE SERIOUS BUSINESS FOR THIS BROWN BOY.

I ended up making it to the airport fine, and there’s another story here about the flight from Vancouver to Syracuse (which was the most terrifying thing imaginable), so this isn’t about the flight. It’s about that morning in Montreal, where I woke up in total darkness, groggy and fighting off a migraine. The lobby was pitch black, and there was no one there to deal with me checking out or let me buy a cup of coffee. So I left my key on the computer keyboard and trudged outside, where I was immediately met with the most serene silence I have ever experienced in my life. There were few cars around at all at that time of the morning, and it was clear that everywhere I walked, I was the first to step in the freshly fallen snow. It crunched satisfactorily under my boots, and I marveled at the consistency at which the flakes fell to the ground.

I remember feeling like it was fake, like something was wrong or staged about the whole thing, because it was just so peaceful. I took the long way around to the bus stop so I could have more time to stomp as much as I could, and it is among my finest memories of touring.

As I’ve mentioned a few times, I’ve visited snowy locales the last four or five years of my life, so I’m used to spending some time in the snow, but this will be my first year living in it. I’m thrilled, y’all, and reading this chapter was just a huge reminder that I actually live in the same general place as Nita (well, much closer than Los Angeles!) and that THIS WILL BE MY WINTER, TOO. I’ve experienced a huge blizzard once in Boston, and I’ve been close to some big storms while on tour. (Remind me every chance you get that while traveling in February is much cheaper, it is an existential nightmare. I’VE DONE IT SO MANY TIMES WHYYYYYY.) I know it’s only a matter of time before the color of the leaves change, and THAT excites me a great deal. I feel like this was the perfect time for me to read “How Lovely Are Thy Branches” because it’s getting me pumped for fall and winter in New York City.

I’M READY. BRING IT.

I haven’t decided what I’m doing for Christmas though. This chapter made me want to throw a party and bake cookies, and I think I might genuinely consider getting a tree. Though how does that work? No one has cars. Do they have Christmas tree lots in NYC??? I’ve never seen one, even though I have been here in the city in December. Is it more of a suburbs thing? Regardless, I appreciate how much this is putting me in a mood for all the things I’m reading about in this story: food, good company, great friends, and CHRISTMAS LIGHTS.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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