Monday, August 8, 2016

The Succulent Story

There is a lot of not-writing involved in writing, and I have spent the better part of the last 8 weeks not finishing the story I was telling you about my last trip to Cuba.

 I know what I want to tell you, I know how the story ends, and I’m still working my emotions to a place where I can sit through it, face the grief and find the happy ending.

I’m not there yet. Instead, I run, I do load after load of laundry, and I watch Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime with the zealous dedication I throw into everything I do.

Also, I have been spending a lot of quality time with my plants. 

Yes, my plants. Not the huge tall ones in my office that I water and turn once a week – they are all about a decade old, they are strong and happy and quite ok with the peace they have found without people being in the office chattering about grades and wars and essays and projects.   I brought the smaller plants home and now I have plants. In my house.

 I know, I should have thought of it sooner, noticed the void, thought about things like fresh air and décor but really, at home my job is to keep everyone alive and moving forward and plants haven’t played into that equation.

So these long summer days where I am not getting up at 5am, driving kids in circles, explaining the Yalta Conference (repeatedly), I find deep meaning and pleasure in watering my plants and feeding them bright blue kool-aid looking plant food, turning them towards the sun, taking secret delight pleasure in every tiny new leaf or root bud that shoots out of these plants into this universe.   This is symbolic of nothing; or maybe it is everything. I hope they know I love them. I think they do. 

But since I can't tell them stories (I can, I do, but lets drop that for now) I'll tell you one.

Here it is. 
Here are the plants on their morning table; later in the day they sit by a different window to watch the sun set.


Last Wednesday while I was getting my hair done by one my favorite people I finally asked what I had to ask, the question that had been burning in my stomach since her baby shower months and months ago.

While she ran her fingers through my hair, coaxing all the foamy bubbles out (I hate every thing that involves me sitting still, this is torture, she knows it and moves quickly), I ask Tina straight out, “How do you keep your tiny cactuses so cute and perfect? I literally have not been able to stop thinking about them since your baby shower…. ”

Once I’ve said it I am completely sure it sounded crazy.  This woman has a tiny baby at home and I'm asking about her plants. That's exactly how crazy looks and stalkers begin right? and I’m thinking any other woman here in this salon in the deep South might could be overhearing my confession and sending a silent “bless her heart” my way.   Cringe.

Tina answers as though she gets crazy questions all the time, “My succulents? On the coffee table? I found them at the craft store in the 75% off……”

And before she could even finish, I stopped her.  “No. No. Those sweet perfect baby cacti of my dreams? They were fake?”

She keeps washing my hair like the whole world isn’t collapsing in on me. “Yes they are fake! I can’t keep plants alive!”

I fall down a little bit in my chair laughing and  wondering what other things I am probably completely wrong about.