One. Spring-cleaning is in full swing and I spent the week collecting items to donate the rule being if I hadn’t used it, worn it, or thought of it in two years- it goes but- am I the only one who gets emotionally attached to things? Like my white heels. The ones I wore on my drive up from Florida to Michigan with my brand new husband. The ones that blistered my feet and hobbled my steps as we made an impromptu stop to wander a field of gardens. The ones K insisted I remove, giving me his flip-flops instead. The ones I held in my hand as we continued exploring the garden arm-in-arm on that hot July afternoon. I’d only known him a year. Only seen him a handful of times. And yet in that moment as he gave me his sandals without hesitation, I knew he would make me happy. And though I’d never wear them again [my GOD they HURT] every time I see them in the corner of my closet I remember that day. And though it breaks my rule to keep them- and I remind myself they are just a thing, and how long am I going to hold on to them? I can’t seem to let them go. On the plus side, to compensate I donated at least twice the things I normally did, some sadly never worn at all. My shoes, I’ll give them away some day, just not yet.
Two. In keeping with spring we sprung for grass for our backyard which remained grass-less for years due to shady trees that we only just chopped down to let in sunlight and tilled to begin laying down sod. K waters the sod in progress but was running late today so called to ask me to do it while it was still light out. I cringed- not because I am watering-averse, but because of the mint. One of my 101 in 1001 was to grow mint. I kill plants. All shapes, and sizes, but mint are a hardy sprig so I felt confident this time would be different. My father in a show of support gave me a lovely pot of leaves already abundant and minty. Water it, bring it in when the weather is extreme, and you’re guaranteed not to destroy it, he said. [As a parent I now understand his desire to believe in me, however misplaced]. I did water it, brought it in at the first hint of thunder for about a week and then promptly forgot all about it until January when a snowstorm pummeled my southern city and I looked outside to see a four foot high snowy lump- my mint. Once the snow melted I felt my heart sink when all I saw were black spindles. I hadn’t stepped into my backyard until today. I perched Waleed on my hip as I sprayed the grass and kept my eyes averted from the location of the sad little black pot. Trash goes out tomorrow, I thought. Maybe I should just chuck it so I don’t have to look at it every time I step out. So I turned to pick it up and chuck it in the trash and saw this:
Save plucking it from the roots and feeding it to a Koala bear I essentially followed a step-by-step for how to kill mint guide. I asked K you didn’t go and buy new mint to make me feel better? To which he replied, what mint? We have mint? Caught up in driving, texting, interneting, TV viewing, you can gain a lot- but miss out on small miracles like this that can go entirely unnoticed if you don’t stop to look. Whether on the cliffs of the Napali coast or my suburban backyard its impossible to be outdoors and not feel the presence of Greatness. I thought I killed this plant. But it was never up to me.
Three. For the past two weeks I’ve been getting headaches. All the time. I upped water, decreased caffeine, took medicine. Nothing worked. Concerned, K urged me to see a doctor. I pushed away my own anxiety until I found myself in the waiting room looking at my son clutching his stuffed stork and saw K’s number flash on my phone- and suddenly I felt my throat constrict as I realized not for the first time how fragile life truly is and how as much as we seek to control it, like the mint, its just not up to us. Sometimes I think we create calendars, and lists and pack our schedules to hold fast to the belief there will be a tomorrow, a next week, a meeting, a trip. But in those moments before I met the doctor I felt myself stripped of all the exterior ways we push away our mortality, remembering that life moves very quickly, rushing us from heaven to hell in a matter of seconds. As it turns out my doctor thinks its a tension headache and referred me for a massage. And while its beautiful to get an insurance covered massage the moments in the waiting room are not easily forgotten because for so many people just like me, the diagnosis is nothing so simple. You can watch the news and see the stories so painful and tragic you can’t put it into words, and you can remind yourself how fortunate you are and how you shouldn’t let the little things stress you out, but it isn’t until you’re yanked by the collar and pressed to face the reality that life can turn in an instant, that you really get it. We’ve planted half our sod- the other half this weekend. We will water it every other day for a year. We will lawn mow it weekly. And I hope to God I will see my son run barefoot through it. But right now? I’m going to focus on laying down the grass one square at a time as dogwood petals fall like pink snow to the earth and enjoy this moment here and now because while lawns will be mowed and children will run, this moment now is the only moment I’m certain of. And what a shame to not be present to truly live it.
So in Sum: Shoes and donations, miracle mint, and zeroing in on the present. A good Thursday if ever there was one. Hope you had a great day too.