You know how sometimes things fall apart? Or at least it seems like they do? Like you normally deal with life’s one-two punches with grace and humor and a healthy perspective, but for whatever reason lately you haven’t been able to stay on stable footing, and your perspective slants everything sideways and you regress back to childhood? I’ve been having a run of days like that.
I won’t deliver unto you the litany of my trials and tribulations. Work stuff. Home stuff. Kid stuff. Financial apocalypse. Exorcisms. A 17-year-old pregnant married daughter who is going to give birth any day. And so on.
I’ve noticed when you’re strong and you smile through the bullshit, people tell you what a good job you’re doing. Keep it up. Good work. But when your confidence wavers – when your stiff upper lip quivers – that’s when you find out who your champions are. I told a friend of mine the other day, “I woke up today and realized this is what I became when I grew up.” He told me I needed to change my story. Which I get. But sometimes, man… Sometimes when you lose your footing, it can be really hard to find it again.
We regain our much needed perspective in a variety of ways. Some people turn to yoga, which has always made me want to kick furniture and curse. Some people have church. There aren’t many things I’ve found that can right the boat, but in a past version of me, one of those things was gardening.
I left my ex-husband three years ago this month. The thing I miss most about the life I left behind is my herb garden, which I’d grown and tended and nurtured and loved until it was a flourishing Eden of smells. Rosemary, thyme, lemon balm, calendula, sage, lavender, oregano, mint. I didn’t get the house, so I didn’t get the garden.
I moved into my new apartment – a sixplex with a private patio – about six months ago. The place where I lived before was never home, and I’ve been trying desperately to make this house a home since I moved in. But, having spent the winter fighting an insidious mold problem, that’s been a challenge. Recently, though, the property management company came in and put in new windows, redid all the siding, and installed new vents. To celebrate, I bought new curtains.
And yesterday I planted a garden.
Yesterday was a dry, sunny Northwest spring day. I needed Vitamin D in the worst way – it doesn’t help your mood to spend nine months of the year under gray skies and drizzle — but this day was gorgeous.
I took all of my houseplants outside to repot them. I have a ton of plants: philodendron, angel-wing begonia, weeping fig, Kaffir Lily, lady of the night cactus, some sort of bushy vine, a small palm, and several spider plants. Also, Tolkien, my son, stuck two apple seeds in a cup of water two months ago, and one of them sprouted. So I planted that, too.
I was outside repotting my plants when I discovered I was short on pots. My bigger pots contained a few herbs, which was my sad little attempt to regrow my garden, and I had to make a decision: Do I go to the store and buy new pots, or do I actually plant my scant collection of herbs in the ground? After a brief deliberation, I decided to give my lavender, lemon balm, primrose, and rosemary a permanent home at my new place.
Tolkien and I worked together to dig out some proper beds in the little space I had available. At one point, he asked if he could dig a bed of his own. I pointed out a space in the yard that could be all his. I pointed to one of my gardening implements and said, “You can use that digging thingy there.” Indigo, Tolkien’s twin brother, asked nonchalantly, “You mean the trowel?” My heart sang and I replied, “Yes, Indigo. Thank you. Tolkien, you can use the trowel to dig your own plot.”
So the boys and I worked happily through the afternoon, in the sunshine, digging in the dirt. Tolkien and Indigo carved up earthworms and weeds while I dug down deep to nest my plants in their new home.
After a while, the boys announced they were hungry. I set them to task on heating up their own dinner and I finished up outside, sweeping and organizing and tending and cleaning. I went inside around nightfall, completely spent. Exhausted. And, oddly, completely at peace for the first time in days.
It feels good to put down roots.