Lessons In Love From A Potted Plant

The potted plant that was never meant to spent its life indoors

Many times it has told me it would prefer to be outside, to rot in rudderless rain or freeze in hilarious hailstorms. Though short-lived, that would be the best way to replicate its natural existence.

“Don’t talk gibberish. It would be your death,” invariably was my response. Stubborn human that I am, I continued with the sure-fire recipe for three parts agony, one part joy.

“You need to stop watching me suffer!” the potted plant just now muttered. (Hypothesis 1: plants in captivity think more clearly than humans, and their advice provides valuable life lessons.)

“You’re not suffering, you drama queen. Those little sprouts of joy are telling me otherwise.”

The brown leaves rustle. The potted plant is depressed by the heavy burden of its past living on to twart the present.

“Lady, you need to take into account the whole of me. And while you’re at it, take into account the whole of you. Waiting for the little sprouts of joy is kinda cruel. Start pruning. End captivity. Save our souls.”

I hesitate. The plant eggs me on: “Go on! I might even bloom again.”

Yeah, you might. The question seems to be: do I want you to bloom? (Hypothesis 2: middle-aged women at infuriatingly sad cross-roads in their lives are lousy caretakers.)

Why It Does Matter What Kind Of Blue It Is

This is a re-post of an old blog item. I’m trying to get my act together and start using this space again. Not sure what I can offer you. It won’t be the same as before. Nothing is the same as before.

A few years ago, I wanted to give our window sills and doors a fresh coat of paint – and soon found myself in a pickle, as I couldn’t make out the colour code on the messy can of old and dried out paint sitting on a shelf in our DIY cabinet.

I shipped myself off to the store where we’d once ordered a very specific type of blue, pale but not pastel, with a shimmer of androgynous grey in no way referring to overcast skies.

Things had changed. Not only had the machine mixing custom paint been upgraded so that it could offer more than 100,000 different colours, my trusty adviser, a wiry man with a dry wit and matching moustache, had been transferred to another store, in another part of the country. (Either that, or the woman behind the counter was trying to be euphemistic about his death – perhaps she knew I had a soft spot for him and didn’t want to break my heart.)

‘It’s the kind of blue that you wouldn’t want to miss out on,’ I said. ‘Very regal. Loving, too. Has a soft glow to it, as if it wants to invite you in for tea but is too shy to ask.’

The new paint adviser, a ginger chap with red spots dotting his neck, would not play along. Whereas Mr Moustache would have interspersed my lively and lengthy colour descriptions with witty additions of his own, Mr Spot did not even hear me out. He simply gave me a sheet listing all the pale blues the machine had on offer, and said:

‘These are your choices.’

‘But these have no spark. It would kill me to live in a house with such dull colours smeared on its window sills and doors. That would be like living in a coffin. No, no, there is another kind of blue out there, one hinting at rain, a lovely downpour in which to sing and dance like Fred Astaire. A happy colour, you know?’

He looked at me hard, then stepped away from the machine and crossed his arms in front of his chest.

‘Lady, you think too much. I don’t care what kind of blue you want. Just give me a code.’

Since then, I have thought about this conversation often. Was it so wrong of me to share the strong feelings I had for the shade of blue that I had gotten just right for the first coat of paint and wanted so much to reproduce, as it always made me feel welcome in my own home? He need not participate like dear old Mr Moustache, but he could at least have let me be, couldn’t he?

He is right of course. I do think too much. People like me have a brain that is constantly on fire, working very hard to categorize the loads and loads of information passing the leaky filters we have to make do with.

At the same time, I feel sorry for Mr Spot. You see, people like him tend to miss out on the peculiarities captured in shades of blue that have a dash of dried-lavender-plants-steadfastly-infusing-the-room-with-summery-memories-while-winter-holds-the-light-hostage-grey in it.

To them, it will probably NEVER matter what kind of blue it is.

The Longing

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After days of groggy sloppiness, in your last hours,
you developed a longing for water.
It wasn’t merely a physical thing, a technicality,
irrigating the realms of your sickness.
Dutifully, I had read up on some medical stuff,
preparing for the one thing life always delivers in the end.
Thus far, the internets had predicted quite accurately
what form the shattering of my hope for your welfare would take.
So, some longing was to be expected,
but not this, a craving that opened the floodgates,
a galloping thirst for the unknown.
In one headlong caper you lashed out at that sea of sorrow,
defying it, joyfully flying your feline zest in the face of death.
And then, under the sloshing impact of that darned
rosy-fingered dawn, delicate crudeness
dripping from the walls of my woeful tank,
I found myself crying out for a life jacket.
Not to save you from dying, for I knew I could not,
but to save me from drowning, there, on the spot.

The funny thing of course being that *you* did not drown at all.
Instead, you deftly swam across, tail swishing, head high,
your beloved duffel coat heaving, tearing me up inside.