For eight years, I didn’t sleep in the same bed more than four nights in a row. The only thing worse than your parents having joint custody is every other kind of scheme they could try. Joint custody is capitalism for kids of divorce. Still bad, but the best we’ve some up with. Apologies to Churchill.
I was watching a TV show about a polygamist. This man has four wives, and he rotates between them. He has clothes everywhere, he said, and it’s hard to figure out what is where. Yeah, that was the problem. You were never, exactly, anywhere.
Now that I have no lease, no legal claim to my place, I decided to plant bulbs. I’ve always planted annuals in pots, wherever I lived, but I’ve never planted bulbs. It seems like the kind of thing I would do. I was a child who secretly liked wearing her too-tight Reeboks because it felt so good when I took them off. Delayed gratification. Ahh.
This week a relative stranger suggested I should be trying to date. Strangers are The Fools in my drama. I listen to them. Yeah, okay, I could be trying, just a little bit, just occasionally. I could, say, spend as much time and energy on that as I spend on doing the dishes. So I poked around on a dating website. Which I have done before. Don’t get excited.
The next day, I got an email from someone that said, “You looked at my profile, but you didn’t respond. Why not? I need to know.” Oh, God. The whole process of pairing people up used to be regulated and ritualized by families and communities, because it’s a goddamn tense business, and now it’s just a giant wild west of neurosis and terror and a lot of people running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Including, of course, me.
I made little families of bulbs, several in the same hole, so they won’t look so weird when they come up. If some of them are duds, it’s no big deal. A gardener friend told me to do it that way. It was not a good metaphor for Finding Love. Don’t get excited. Digging is my favorite part of gardening. I like to do is dig and make the ground soft and loose. When I had a vegetable garden once, I didn’t know what to do with most of the vegetables. But I like to dig. After the whole bed had been thoroughly churned, I put four tulip bulbs in each of four holes. I leaned over the plants in the front of the bed, which are still hanging on, green for now.
My gardening knowledge was neglected. I learned to build a fire, to notice patterns and archetypes, to drive a stick, to change a tire, to mow a lawn, to pray, to sing, But I did not learn how to plant anything. I was raised by feminists– pluses and minuses there.
I never had the feeling I would be someplace in the spring, to tell the truth. I always thought I would be moving on, moving in with someone, moving to New York. But then, I didn’t. Maybe I will see those bulbs come up, their brave April necks and their yellow and red manes opening. Maybe I won’t. Someone will see them, though. And that’ll be nice.
2 thoughts on “Roots”
Nice post E. Little tought to read, having one of my girls in her bed here, the others at their bads at the other house. When We took Maiah, my adopted daughter to church one day, a woman came up and said, “oh, she is so lucky to be with you too” Which, aside from being a racist tinged comment, made me think, no, she would be lucky if her natural family was intact and they could all live in this world under “normal circumstances” Then I think of a line from As Good As It Gets “we all want that, but it doesn’t exist” It seems a hard pill to swallow sometimes that life is just broken in ways. and we just have to peace together what we can. Keep writing.
Thanks. I hesitated to even write about it, because I know how bad my parents still feel about causing me any suffering. I think they both still feel guilty about getting divorced, 25 years later. But then, that doesn’t mean I have to pretend it was okay. Like many problems in life, it was no one’s fault and many people’s pain. The fact that neither of my parents could stand more than four days away from me and both were violently insistent on being involved, responsible parents is a great blessing, and that’s what I focus on most of the time, for sure.
It seems really strange the way people comment on adoptive families– I have mused about adopting kids, who might be black because there are so many of them who need adopting, and wondered about what that would be like. My uncle is adopted, and Asian, and there were divorces and remarriages, and there has been a fierce insistence in my family on biology meaning nothing, family-wise. Which isn’t exactly true, either, but it’s a better way to go, I guess, if you have to choose.
Thanks for reading! Good to hear from you.