The spring after my fourth birthday, my dad built me a tree house. Now, you should know that people in my family go big, and a tree house in our yard was not just going to be a normal, regular, run-of-the mill tree house. New York goes big and never goes home. With my mom's input, the tree house had a wrap around porch, a staircase with a double railing, a real roof, and heart shaped windows that were cut into the rounded shiplap that made the walls. When my dad finished building, he traced my hands on one of the boards that faced out toward the slate path leading behind our garage and winding around to the tree house entrance. I later helped him carve out the tracing with a small Dremel tool that belonged to his father. When we moved, about 8 years later, my dad cut the plank of wood with my hand tracing and removed it from the tree house. For years, the plank of wood sat on front porches, backyards, gardens, and various outdoor areas where my parents lived. When my daughter was born and they sold their home in New York to fully relocate to California , the plank of wood followed and sat on bookshelves and small outdoor spaces in city apartments. When we all moved to Marin, it followed us there too, rotating between a different set of bookshelves, end tables, and larger outdoor spaces. On my 40th birthday my parents surprised me with the same plank of wood. On the reverse side to my tracing, my dad and my daughter had made a tracing of her hands, with her age on my birthday. You cannot see the tracing of my daughter's hands as clearly yet. That side of the board has not seen as much age, weather, or adventure. As it has before, the board rotates between different tabletops, bookshelves and surfaces in our home as we've renovated, made decisions, and settled in. I know it belongs outside, I'm just not ready to have it that far away yet.

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