Saturday, October 27, 2012

Good Fortune

There are moments in my life when my child endears himself to me even more. As close as we are, as much as I already treasure him, I find it impossible to imagine something could make me love him even more. Then it does, and I stop the world for as long as I can, so I savor the moment.

Trick-or-treating last night in my hometown, my son was given a fortune cookie by the local Chinese restaurant. This was something new to him; we don’t eat Chinese food. I have nothing against it, mind you. I actually rather enjoy it…or, I did, but my body has decided, in the past year, to refuse to accept most of the foods I used to enjoy. I already do not eat meat. I gave up dairy some time ago. And now I’m forced to enjoy a wheat/gluten-free diet as well. This basically means I eat like a rabbit, which actually isn’t too bad once you get used to it and has a quite fabulous effect on one's energy level and figure. But my son and I have never been ‘foodies.’ I’m quick to tell people that dinner is not a big deal in our house. We eat to stay alive, not as a social activity. And as the saying goes, we ‘Simply eat. Not a lot. Mostly plants.’ When a friend got me involved with community gardening this summer, it opened up a whole new world of food to my son, because certain things – like eggplants – just flourished in abundance and had to be eaten as such. Also, he had his own row of crops to tend, and there was a certain magic to eating what he knew he’d grown and planted himself.

But back to the fortune cookie…I’m not sure why it delighted him so much. His fortune inside was pretty generic - you will soon be the recipient of good news – but he held on to it like he’d been given a gold doubloon. As I write this, I can still see him walking there beside me, his full bucket of goodies in one hand, his little slip of fortune held tightly in the other. “I’m not going to lose my fortune, Mama,” he said. Every so often, he’d stop and look at it again. We had parked at my parents home and walked the mile or so to town, been on our feet steadily for hours doing the candy rounds, and were walking back when he asked, “Mama, what is a fortune actually?”

By this time, his candy bucket was about half-full. Not because he’d eaten it, no. It was because he’d steadily given away his candy to children in line who were just arriving and did not have as much in their buckets. I celebrated this silently, but after many, many instances of him giving candy away, I finally stopped and told him he was making me very proud.

“What?” he said. “It’s just fair, I have already gotten so much and they didn’t have any yet.”

These are the moments I want to stop the world for, the moments when I see glimpses of who my son really is, who he is going to be, and my own good fortune to be the mother of a child who would so easily give away what he’d stood in line two hours to receive. In these moments, I recall others - how he packed a favorite stuffed animal into his book-bag so he could give it to a child in his classroom who was returning to school that day after being sick. The day he suggested, while at the grocery store, that we also buy food for my elderly grandmother and take it to her. How, on his own, he picked wildflowers on Mother’s Day for all the Mothers that we know. And recently, while out having lunch, when a friend jokingly asked if he could have some of his pizza, and my son pushed his plate towards him, saying, “You can have as much as you want.” My friend was amazed and a little embarrassed. “I was only teasing,” he said.

“No, have some,” my son replied. “It’s really good. Try it.”
Looking back at my little boy, I smiled. He is but a child, after all. A child who asked, what is a fortune?

“A fortune is the knowledge of what might happen in the future,” I told him. “But it’s also all the good stuff you have in life right now.”

“Like this candy?” he asked, holding up his bucket.

“Well, in some way. But really it’s more like all the other stuff. Friends, family, love, Lammy (our cat), our home, that we live by the woods, that we are happy and healthy and have all the things we need, that we are here, together, right now…you know…all the blessings.”

“Can we really tell what’s going to happen in the future?” he asks.

“Kind of. Well, most of the time. We create the future with our choices. It’s not something predestined that happens to us, many things will happen to us in our lives, good and bad things. It’s how we react to them that really determines what will be,” I say. “And how willing we are to really work for whatever it is that we want. So in a way, that fortune is true, because there is always going to be some good news that comes. But there’s going to always be bad news, too." I say. “But, remember the future is not what we worry about. It’s not guaranteed or promised to us. All we have is the moments we’re in, like right now. That’s what matters most. That's what we need to give our attention to, the moments. We can waste a lot of life worrying about what might or might not happen in a future that might or might not happen. Be in the moment. I think this is a real good one, don’t you?”

He shrugs, his eyes focused on the small slip of paper. “I’m not gonna lose my fortune,” he repeats. I smile at the way he holds the paper in his small fist. “I’m gonna save it forever.”

Then he stops walking, frowns a little. He didn’t want to dress up for this round of trick or treating, as we’d both dressed up extensively for a Halloween celebration the night before. And I didn’t force him, as it honestly made no difference to me. Kids need to make some choices for themselves, especially when it comes to spending hours walking around in a hot, itchy costume or just wearing one's regular clothes. A werewolf passed us by, followed by a clown, and I thought maybe the look on his face was because he regretted his choice not to put on the medieval Viking king ensemble he’d worn the night before. But I was wrong.

“Mama, I really don’t want all this candy. Will you be mad if I give the rest of it away?”

“No, love,” I responded. “It’s yours to do with as you wish.”

I didn’t tell him how glad I really was that he didn’t want to run home and eat as much of it as he could. Nor did I complain that we’d spent basically two hours on a quest for something he was now just going to give away. We have often labored, in some capacity, for something we were simply going to give away. I’ve demonstrated to him that there is a sacred beauty in doing something for purposes beyond self-gratification. And I’ve always been practical with him when it comes to unhealthy foods like candy. He knows what it means to be sick. He knows unhealthy food is the primary thing that makes us sick. This is a battle I don’t have to fight in my house, and for that, I’m so grateful, because every Halloween, he ends up giving away 90% of the candy collected.

At home, he pulls out a few select pieces for himself and we put the rest in a basket. We will take the basket to the Soup Kitchen, where we’ve donated many things before. He adds all the candy from his class party and a wrapped cookie he’d saved from a boxed lunch the day before. “Those kids will be so happy to get this,” he smiles. “And I certainly don’t need it all.”

I love my child beyond measure. I love our life here, the intense bond we share, and the way we live. And I also love all the wonderful things that are happening for us right now. I take his fortune and put it on the refrigerator, slipping it into a photo of the two of us on the coast of the Baltic Sea.

What is a fortune? It’s knowledge of what might happen in the future. But mostly, it’s all the good stuff that you have, in your life, right now. Which is all that matters, really. What you have right now.

Celebrate it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Eve and the Serpent...again

In mid-conversation with neighbors, I stepped into the hallway to put down some items still left in my car from a trip to the beach two weeks ago. As I lowered them to the floor, a movement caught my eye. For a few seconds, I was frozen there, staring at the snake inside of my house. Sprawled across the hallway floor, he looked up at me.
I knew his kind. I knew those patterns along his back, his diamond-shaped head, and the way his body thickened in the middle. I knew the pose he coiled into almost instantly upon seeing me there. In the wild, I back away. I'm on their turf. I have never killed a venomous snake in the wild. That is our agreement. In return, they stay away from my property. If they don't, all bets are off.

I've dealt with many serpentine encounters, having long sought the company of the forest as a refuge from the wildness of daily life. Once, jumping across a creek, I dislodged a bed of over-wintering snakes from a pile of debris. About 30 of them were suddenly visible, writhing there together in the creek below. I got out of there fast. I've lifted king snakes and black snakes with sticks to move them from where they lie sunning on walking trails. I've said hello to them as they peer down at me from tree branches. I've quickly passed by copperheads coiled in brush; and I once helped cut free a moccasin caught by a fisherman's wire. These are natural, normal encounters with serpents that don't bother me.

But in my front hallway? That rattled even me. I hate surprises. And I'm using the word hate lightly here...

Keeping the snake in sight, I stepped outside and asked my son to get me the garden hoe or small shovel. Curious, he asked why. Honest with him always, I gave the reason. But he's had his own encounters with snakes, and stood wide eyed, scared, and unable to move. The neighbor’s son found what I was looking for, and I turned towards the snake. "Sorry, little brother," I said.

Later I let the neighborhood kids have a good look from a safe distance. "Don't pick these guys up," I say. "Don't go anywhere near them." My son, scarred from his spring encounter, did not need this lesson. He held back, watching me. And I thought of my own childhood, my own mother, how she would call for my father in the event of emergencies such as this one. On the phone, she chastised me for killing the snake myself instead of going to a neighbor’s husband for help. "Oh, please, there wasn't time to even consider that," I said. Not to mention that it never, ever even entered my mind to do it.

Still I wonder about the image of me killing the snake, then discarding its remains, will affect my son in years to come. I wonder what he will grow to expect a woman to be capable of. I think of women like my mother, secure with a partner for so long that it doesn't even occur to them to handle a task themselves. It is too late now for me to ever adopt that persona, for far too long I've been my own hero. Still, my son's memory of me walking to the creek with a decapitated snake hanging from the end of a hoe is quite different than my own memory of my mother pulling her feet up into a chair, calling out for my father because she saw a mouse in the house.

How does each memory affect our interpretation of what a woman should be? I'd like to think about this more, to write about it, to pontificate with peers and scholars and explore the concepts and realities created by the absence of Adam, but sadly, I need to be at work soon.

There isn't even time to consider it.

Apologizing to Serpents

A flash of reddish brown diamonds
amongst the clover
and my heart stops
I can smell the venom
I am death, the serpent seems to say
Perhaps not to you
but to the child behind you
who plays
at striking distance.

I don’t make a move
or sound
My spade is in my hand
My son is five
Curious age
And he plays
at striking distance.

Copperheads are quick
but I am faster
My spade meets flesh and bone
In an instant
Eve slays the serpent
before there is a chance
for the world to come undone.
Later, as I cover my deed with dirt
I remember the serpent’s protest
as its life ended
And I wonder if there might have been another way
Everything desires to live
and what was its sin, really?

But in the absence of Adam
Eve must be swift.
Her shoulders sag at times
from a weight that should be shared.

Still, death does not stalk my house tonight
I sleep with my spade in my hand
and wake up
feeling strong.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Harvesting Acorns, Coehlo and Insane Courage

I’m gathering a bucket of acorns…I do this every year. I can’t tell you why, but it’s a ritual I’ve completed for as long as I can remember. I love the way they look, all shiny with their rough little caps. As a child I popped the caps and made them into gnome hats. I used to do this with my son, too, when he was younger. We made acorn wreaths, donated acorns to wildlife rehabilitation centers, stored them until mid-winter and then put them out for hungry squirrels. I thought to make Cherokee acorn fritters last year, remembering their sweet taste, but then remembered fritters are deep-fried, and I don’t eat that way these days. And my son, almost eight now, isn’t so keen on gnome hats or making acorn wreaths for our doors anymore. Though he eagerly helped me at first, (ever so discerning, not accepting any acorn with even the most insignificant flaw), he abandoned me immediately when a friend came outside carrying a baseball bat and glove. I watch them only for a moment, thinking – or rather, knowing – this is actually a good thing, and then I resume my task. They practice hitting and pitching while I pick the ground clean and think about the coming seasons. The weather is perfect, just a little cool.

It is because of the evening’s coolness that I am wearing a jacket, the jacket of a man whose words I have both found and lost myself in since our paths crossed years ago. As I move, I catch a whiff of his scent, still lingering on the fabric, and smile. I expected, back in summer, to be picking up acorns from underneath the large oak in my backyard come fall. But I didn’t expect I’d find myself warm in the jacket of a man I once asked to stop communicating with me because it was just too painful to remain friends.

He returned to my world as summer was first beginning to fade, the words “It’s been a long time” catching me off guard as I stepped outside. I had to sit down, there on the curb, in front of my house, and breathe. I was dealing with a loss I hadn’t anticipated; confusion about my profession and pending return to work; and struggling with ideas about what I really wanted to do with the rest of my life. His timing was perfect, because a month earlier, even a week earlier, I might not have responded with, “Yes, too long.” I might not have responded at all.

We don’t analyze this now. Divine timing has its own reasoning. As I load the acorn bucket, I think of a line from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. “If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil. And one can always come back. If what you had found was only a moment of light, like the explosion of a star, you would find nothing on your return.”

When you leave someone, however, it takes courage to risk a return. Tremendous courage. And what did this man find on his return into my life? We’re not sure yet, and that’s okay. The past few months have brought a slew of talk, words, actions, thoughts, openness and forgiveness, but no promises…we are much wiser now. Things unfold as they are meant to, and there are lessons every step of the way. We hurry nothing. We take time. We see the beauty in moments we wanted to rush through years ago, an impulsive time when we could only see the destination, not the journey. We could only think of immediate gratification, not the whole of what we could become in time.

A heavy silver bracelet circles my wrist, a sparkling star dangling from it. My birthday gift, from a man I thought I’d never speak to (or about) again. It makes me smile when the gems on the star catch the waning sunlight. He knows my love of the night sky; he remembers my enthusiasm over things like super-moons, white rainbows, and meteor showers. It is nice to have the things you love be regarded with wonder instead of disdain. It is nice to be reminded that one is worth pursuing, that you are worth someone else taking a risk for. And it seems surreal, me dancing so lightly before all this magic that is happening. I never expected it, and that’s part of the beauty. And I wonder, can something that was so glorious possibly be even better a second time around? No, don’t think of the future, I remind myself. Be in the moment, in the now. You are friends again, you are close again, and right now, it is enough. Let it unfold. Breathe. Be. I push aside leaves and find fat acorns hidden there. I am in this beautiful fall day, with the sun warm on my face, my child happy and thriving, and my heart healed, full as the bucket of acorns I hold.

I don’t know what I’ll do with them, but we don’t always have an immediate need for what we gather. When I read The Alchemist years ago, it changed my life. Overwhelmed by the power of its content, I looked to Coelho’s words for answers when life posed questions. I used his wisdom to embolden me, and I thought, or hoped, his tale of Santiago’s journey would mirror my own somehow. But I’ve traveled halfway around the world and back, faced storms of sand, became the wind, seen life become lead and this lead again become gold, and finally – finally – learned that I’ve always possessed the wisdom, passion and courage Coelho’s words inspire. I am the Alchemist, I possess the power to transform and be transformed. I just needed to realize it.

And while The Alchemist and Coehlo's other works continue to resonate strongly with me, I don’t think my tale will ever mirror Santiago’s. The treasure dangling from my wrist came from a place that is nowhere close to my backyard. If I choose to pursue it, my journey is just beginning. But I am not one to wade about in indecision; having lived half my life already, I know there is no time for mulling over 'what ifs?' We know whether or not we want a thing the second it presents itself, and 20 seconds of insane courage are all we need to reach out and take it. 20 seconds of insane courage can chart a course of action that will change our lives forever. 20 seconds is all it took for this person to extend an olive branch to me.

And it took less seconds, but possibly more courage, for me to respond.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


When I was in the hospital,
I wanted you there.

Later, you shrugged,
offering no excuses.

"What could I have done
that the doctors weren't
already doing?" You asked.

You plunged your hands
into your pockets
and turned toward the road.

I have watched you walk away
so many times, growing smaller
as the horizon takes you in. I have
memorized the shape you make
when you hunch your shoulders forward,
as if a stance can somehow
shield one from the cold.
It's always winter
when you disappear.

What could you have done
that the doctors
weren't already doing?

I didn't answer then.
I won't now.

You cannot explain
to someone else
the depth
of their own power.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mulling Spices

There are two sides
to fairy tales
and mulling spices.

For example, kings and queens
are not always noble heroes.

Castles can be sweet illusions
built with decks of cards.
But even a house of cards seems cozy
when it’s dressed in burgundy and navy blue
hunter green and taupe and all the hues
of home. Smells like mulling spices
in here, I thought. I felt safe.

But I have learned a thing or two
about the scent of mulling spices. It is often
favored by the Queen of Hearts. I almost lost my head
in Wonderland. Still, the arrow
that pierced me didn’t come
from the Queen’s bow. I was struck
from behind. She was right, I was no match for
her power. ‘I always win,’ she said to me.
I pulled the arrow from my back
and stepped away.There was no need
to remind the archer
whose side I'd been on.

All that was needed
was a magnolia print above the fireplace
and two sconces with candles
that would never be used. Then the interior
would look like all the others
in that row of identical houses. Kingdoms vary.
But a house of cards can only stand so long.
I’ve read the story.The Queen of Hearts
loses her head
in the end. And I trust
this tale of Wonderland
will unfold just as Carroll’s does.

But I no longer trust the sweet illusion
of any home that smells
like mulling spices.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fully and Completely

It was a perfect moment. The sun was rising over the ocean, the display of light phenomenally beautiful. I was walking down the beach, looking for ‘treasure’ in the form of shells, driftwood, and other objects that might have been delivered to the shore during the nightly tides. I heard my son call to me, and I looked up. There he was, standing ankle deep in the water, the sunrise behind him. I pulled my phone from my pocket and snapped a picture, then walked over and joined him.

The picture I took of my son standing in front of the ocean sunrise is one of only 5 pictures I took during our weekend trip to see The Angel Oak Tree and The Isle of Palms. As a comparison, the friend who accompanied us on the trip took well over a hundred photos. I’m told one day I’ll regret not having documented more of my son’s childhood through photos…but I am the daughter of a ‘junker’ who has seen my father bring in too many discarded boxes of old photos to attribute too much importance to documenting every moment in my child’s life. I’m too busy being IN the moments to record them.

At 39, I have boxes and boxes of photos that I never look at. They are images from the past, of lives I tried on and decided didn’t fit, people I may exchange Facebook comments with from time to time, but am not in regular contact with and likely will never see again. When I move, I’ll store these photos at my parents’ home and hope for the best. The pictures I’ve collected from the time my son was born, I have pulled aside to put into collective albums, of course…but images of people I knew in college making silly faces, or a sculpture I created out of nuts and bolts in high school, or weddings I’ve been in, places I’ve visited, things I’ve done and worn and seen…I hardly see the need to haul these halfway around the free world.

Thank heavens for the digital age…

Still, even the digital age has its drawbacks. At the beach, I saw oodles of parents directing their children into cute poses over and over again, then saying ‘hold on, wait, hold on, I’m putting this on Facebook’ as they fiddled with phones…this brought to mind the question: do we spend so much time trying to record the moments of our lives that we forget to really live them? And does the ease of technology and social networking make us somehow feel obligated to share with friends and friends of friends and strangers even all the things we’re doing in our lives? I have very few photos on the walls of my home, but I have hundreds of images posted to Facebook, simply because it’s easy. It takes a few seconds to caption an image and share it with hundreds of people…but how much do those seconds take us out of a moment? How do the comments and responses that interrupt the remainder of our day after posting the photo affect our being fully present in our lives?

When I snapped the image of my son on the beach, I did not post it anywhere. The moment was simply too grand; too precious. After snapping the image, I was there beside him, telling him to hold up his arms and give the sunrise a big hug. Pelicans, one of my favorite birds, soared above us. Seagulls and ocean waves created the sound of the sea. The weather was near perfection, that autumn blend of hot and cold at the same time. The beach was sparsely populated; we found deer tracks. The sun came up, and we changed into our suits. As I promised myself I’d do, I charged into the sea on the morning of my birthday (note to self: the ocean water is pretty doggone cold at sunrise) and stayed in the water most of the morning. I took no more pictures beyond the one of my son at sunrise; I didn’t need to take anymore. What I needed was to be fully present, there with my only child, reveling in delight at ocean waves and the immensity and beauty of the sea. I am not sure when we’ll see the coast of our home state again. But I hardly need photos to recall it.

Later, visiting my parents, I showed my mother the 5 pictures I took. “That’s it?” she said. “Geez, why didn’t you take anymore pictures?”

I shrugged.

“I was there.” I said.

And I was, fully and completely.

It has taken me a long time to learn to be there, fully and completely. The garden helps. I check on my seedlings again this morning, the tiny shoots I’ve vested my hopes for a fall garden on. They are taking their time, growing, a miracle unfolding there beneath that dirt. I want so badly to put them in the ground, but they aren’t ready. I’m impatient by nature, but gardening has been a wonderful lesson for me in learning that not everything wonderful that can happen will happen overnight. The seedlings still aren’t ready, so I busy myself washing off the shells we collected that morning on the beach. The scent of the sea clings to them. I used to think I needed mountains to be happy, but I’ve come to realize it is the sea I now crave.

How did this happen? Can I own this change in myself? My mind flashes to the movie my son and I watched last Friday, Tim Burton’s remake of Alice in Wonderland. Towards the end, Alice stumbles upon the caterpillar Absalom hanging upside down, a chrysalis forming around his chubby body.

“I’ve come to the end of this life,” he says to her.

“You’re dying?” she responds.

“Transforming.” He replies.

I place the shells out to dry on a towel. These changes I'm embarking on, this future I feel coming, every step that I am taking to move towards a destiny I never imagined for myself...they, too, are moments.

Here I am.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Spider Lily

There is a chill to the evening, a damp chill. It is autumn, my absolute favorite season. And it is evening, my favorite time of day. Evening is coffee and teechino, playing and lounging outside, dinner and tidying, bedtime routines, and then, a few blessed hours to myself. I used to spend this time painting, and I have an arsenal of canvases as a result of 10 years’ worth of burning the midnight oil with a brush in one hand and a palette in the other. I wanted different things back then, things I accomplished in small and great quantities, things that I no longer desire to accomplish now. It was a beautiful phase of life, but a phase I feel is through. Now, most evenings find me knitting, reading, or chatting with a friend on the phone. This particular evening, however, my alone time finds me outside in the dark, fooling around with seeds and soil on the patio.

I have a birthday coming up; I will be 39. I have never given a whit about age, be it mine or someone else’s. I only know that birthdays are a special time, and I look forward to mine as much as a child might. It is part of the reason I love autumn, actually…I know with it comes my special day. On the patio tonight, I spoon soil into small starter pots and add seeds. It feels odd to do this while the chill of winter hovers, but I am excited. For the the first time in my life, I’ll have a fall garden. On the patio sits a greenhouse, ready to hold the small pots and protect the young seedlings until they can be put into the ground. I assembled it Sunday and am quite pleased to be putting it to use tonight. As my birthday approaches, I'm always reflective about life. Seeds are so symbolic, the act of planting a thing so magical.

It is late to be starting these seeds, I know, but I’m always late. My family says its part of my M.O., which isn’t entirely true; at least it’s not intentional. But it seems to be who I am, the person who is always be one step behind in getting a thing done. I tell myself it is because I am doing so much, and that appeases my ego, but truth is I do no more than anyone else. I just tell myself I do for the same reason everyone tells themselves they are 'so busy'... no one wants to think they are always running one step behind because they're inept at being punctual. No one wants the image in their head of themselves always running, period, be it away from something or towards something. It is one thing to strive for a thing; it is another to be always running. Nevertheless, it seems I am always running behind, no matter what the event. I make it to work on time only with great effort, even though I wake up 2.5 hours before I need to be there.

Being late, running behind, how I need to improve my punctuality...this on my mind when noticed the Spider Lily plant, stuck in a dim corner under the potting table, it’s tall stalk now pale and withering. I look away; I’ve mixed feelings about this plant. I was happy when I potted the bulb, and happy when its first green shoot sprouted up from the dirt…but now the sight of it leaves me feeling gutted. I’m a pretty laid back person, not prone to create or participate in drama. For this reason, I never quite know how to react when it explodes into my life. Weeks ago, reeling from the aftermath of events I will never understand, I pushed the pot holding the lily under the table. It is one thing to strive, it is another to run, and it is something all together different to simply push a thing away. Still, I am rarely confrontational, especially with myself and my own feelings. I hid the plant, and my feelings, away...

But here's a fact: a growing thing left untended dies, and I am too much of a hippie tree hugger to allow any living thing to simply die if I can help it to live. I want to go back inside and forget the plant, but the pitiful sight of it now, compared to how it looked mid-summer, is too much. I pull the pot out and give the lily some needed attention. I prune leaves from its dead stalk and add water. Perhaps I am not too late…that would be a first for me, I think.

It’s a big pot, for I was under the impression it would be a big plant, and with the new additions of the patio greenhouse and potting table, there seems to be no proper place for it now.Then it occurs to me to just dig out the bulb and put it into the ground. But if I do that, then when I leave this place, I won’t be able to take it with me. But do I really want to take it with me? Is it that important if I shoved it under a table?

And so, here I am, outside alone on a rainy night, spade in hand, trying to decide how important a plant is to me…a plant I already hid from sight and allowed to nearly die because it made me  sad when I looked at it. Why save it now, only to have it bloom in spring and make me sad again?

I’ll celebrate my birthday this year by running into the sea during the early morning hours. I’ve always wanted to do this. I’ve always wanted to do many things I’ve not yet done. Late, always late...still it is better to run into the sea at 39 than it is not to do it all. But I’ve had a hell of a start to my birthday week and the sight of the lily has done nothing to appease my mood. I waited months for this flower to bloom, and perhaps it would have, had it not been shoved aside and neglected. Now, I’m outside in the damp darkness trying to save it, for suddenly it is of tremendous importance to me that this flower lives. And I don’t know why. Given the bizarre events I associate with it, I don’t think even the most radical environmentalist would blame me for tossing the bloody thing into the compost heap and being done with the entire production.

But I can’t, because I still remember when it was given to me. I still remember how I felt, how I rushed home to plant it, what a special, wonderful gift it was, at least to me. And soon I will leave this place; I’ve began already a course of action that will surely result in the life change that I am seeking. I was born here, in this place, but I seek now a different home. I seek a different life, a life that will take me far from this potted lily on a painted patio in a small Southern town in a state I returned to but never intended to stay in.
In these little flashing moments of clarity, it occurs to me that it is inumerable, all the things we leave behind when we move on.

It also occurs to me that this flower should be transplanted in spring, not fall, and that I have not, for a long time, thought about the day it was given to me, and I certainly would prefer not to think about it now.  I have meetings to plan for, articles to write, bills to pay, projects to finish, laundry to fold, emails to write, the list goes on. I shouldn't be out here, letting my mind wander this way. So I shove the pot back under the table and come inside.

When spring comes, I’ll plant the bulb in the ground where the sun will shine on it for hours, near a patch of daylilies that flourish each season. Maybe it will blend in with them, but I doubt it. It is something rare and different, and it will no doubt stand out against the sea of carbon copies that surround it. The next person to live in this place will surely notice it one day, wonder what it is and how it came to be there, just as I once wondered about a small bed of unusual succulents that thrived in an odd spot in the yard of a house I rented years ago. I tried to take one with me when I moved, for I’d grown rather fond of them, but it died a few weeks later, having not adapted easily to being potted after years of growing free.

It was my fault entirely.

I should have known that for some things, roots go deep. Still I will plant the bulb and hope the spider lily will be okay. I hope that it will always stand out from the sea of carbon copies that surround it. I hope it will grow and grow and grow, never allowing itself to be confined, never forgetting it is a transplant here, not meant to blend in, and that is a glorious thing. I hope the daylily roots won't strangle the life out of it, as things planted in too close of proximity will often do to one another.

But most of all, I hope it blooms...I really, really hope it blooms, even if I'm  not around to see it.