Last weekend, all offers to hang out were rebuffed. This fellow was sleeping over:
His name is Momo. His mother was at a wedding, and needed an impromptu weekend sitter. Of course, I fell in love. I fell in love with the way he snorted when he ate, the way he helped himself to my bed and pillows, the warm way he snuggled. While his expression was permanently wrinkled with concern, his tail always wagged. How do pet foster parents manage such a temporary exhilaration? I am still heart broken.
This week, I vacillated wildly between feeling very young and very old. I felt especially young visiting dad j. at rehab. There, I showed one random Greek man how to use his new iPhone. His eyes lit up with wonder, hearing his wife’s voice through the speaker. He grabbed my hand and pressed it vigorously while talking to her.
What inspired a sudden agedness was a visit from my dad’s siblings. One aunt, visiting for the summer, hadn’t seen my dad until recently. Conversation was light until she’d interrupt, to grill me with a barrage of questions. You could almost hear the Bobby Vinton vinyl – invisibly playing in the air as they recollected their old high school friends – suddenly scratch. All memories frozen in black and white when she’d ask, pointedly, what I am doing. What am I making? That fellow I am dating, what’s his name? And, where do I fit into his plans? Grad school – did I ever go back? What are the things I make supposed to be? For?
I think I handled it well enough. Conversations ensued as they were. The other siblings even chided her, for cutting so precisely at the jugular. Her eyes widened innocently. “I didn’t mean to corner you!” she exclaimed. The reminiscing recommenced.
It wasn’t until I found myself awake at 3 am this morning, that I realized how deeply I felt cut into. The reality is that she is right to wonder. I am getting old. Too old for these questions to be difficult. If I want to be defensive, I can hide behind my dad’s condition. I have been busy taking care of your sibling, I shook my fist at my aunt’s fixed expression, in my mind. But she is not wrong. Since my dad has been in rehab, I’ve had time and space to clarify how much ground I need to cover, to make it to adulthood. And I can admit that, while I am writing and I am painting, I am not doing it prolifically enough. I do need to start showing some work.
That said, I do feel like I’ve discussed similar feelings ad nauseam on this blog. And lately, not a day goes by without coming across a new article on the “quarter-life crisis” complex. It’s a wearisome revelation. From what I’ve derived, while “the journey” is always going to be a personal one, it will never distinguish you as clearly as where it lands you. It makes me want to travel more quietly. Because, in the end, my aunt got to return home to her summer, her life, her daughters and grandchildren, while I was stuck temporarily feeling like Amy Winehouse, who became more defined by her drug addiction than her god-given talents.
Terrible comparison. Fine. The point is, dwelling on the predicaments of my reality, I was upset. Discouraged. Mildly panicking. But the internal experience changed nothing, externally. And later this morning, in the garden, surrounded by growing things, I had to calm down. I was surrounded by beauty, and it made me glad. My aunt and I are not so different, I told myself, breathing. We are both responsible for today today.
Today, I solved great mysteries. I had been uprooting these strange growths around the garden all week.
I wondered why they were sprouting everywhere, in the ground, and in the herb pots. And then I realized I had been uprooting maple trees, sprouted from all those helicopter leaves I enjoy so much. Horror ensued. But I promise I will officially make it up to them. Now that I know, I’ll start clearing spaces for them to grow, to replant elsewhere.
Also, remember the sage from this post, from last summer? I had to repot it this year. And, as if to celebrate its own space, it bloomed a blush of purple:
So much industry in one little garden, quietly keeping to itself. Fingers crossed, this year will be extra prolific, in all things. The garden. My life. Your life. All of us trying to mean something. All of us young and old at the very same time.