Now that I’m outta there, I could fill volumes with thoughts on New York living. But I won’t. For now. Be grateful. All that matters at the moment is a story about how I came to appreciate sunshine more.
The Boy and I lived in a small studio in New York City for a while. At first, I didn’t even notice how little sunlight I was getting from the two small windows we had–both of which faced brick walls. In fact, it probably took about six months for the reality of our dark existence to hit me, when I decided it might be nice to have a few plants to supplement our other unmet need–FUCKING OXYGEN.
Before long I came to realize that I couldn’t support as much plant life as I like to (which, granted, is a METRIC SHIT TON), and then I had to wonder if The Boy and I would one day crumple up in disappointing heaps just like so many seedlings. Dramatic, I know, but you’ve come to expect that from me by this point. I’d hope.
Well anyhow, when we moved into our new place in Chicago–an apartment with real windows and air that doesn’t feel like a biohazard–I just couldn’t wait to get back to growing serious amounts of my own food. Have a look at this year’s results so far…
The other day I had to wonder if I was getting out of hand (“Oh, hee hee, haha OH HONEY THAT SHIP HAS SAILED.”) As I was passing by the windows, I spun to face The Boy and oozed, “You’re so cute–I love you!” He thanked me but then turned pink and said, “Wait…were you talking to me or the plants?”
Okay, so occasionally we talk. I mean, I talk to them.
When they’ve done something cool, I fluff their leaves like I’m ruffling up the messy head of a mischievous five-year-old. When one of them looks worse for the wear, I drop everything, apply organic fertilizer, and organize a pagan vigil. And when I feed them, I’ve been known to ask, “Which of my wittle misfit plant babies wants some bat guano and earthworm castings todaaaay? Hmmmmm?”
But really, it’s not the plants that I love so much–it’s what gardening represents. Self-sufficiency. Diligence. Give-and-take. Efforts that actually pay off. Working with nature for spectacular results. When I garden, I feel like I’m privy to a special form of mysticism. Exotic knowledge. I feel powerful. But more often than not, I feel humbled.
When I stand before something I’ve planted that’s approaching my height (and which will probably eclipse me entirely in one sunny week’s time), I have a sense of smallness that makes me feel, of all things, safe. We think we have so much control–and we do, to an extent. But really, we just help things along, manipulate them a bit to our liking–the potential for greatness has always been there. It will show itself whether or not we make a move. And even if we act against it, cut it down, it will come back. Not to defy us–just to be itself, as we all should be. Its only purpose is life.
Except maybe for the tomato plant–its other purpose might be destruction. But that’s another post.
So I guess we would’ve been okay even if we’d stayed in that New York apartment. Significantly paler, more cramped, and perhaps a little worse for the wear, but we would’ve made it. Still, I’m glad to be here. Glad to be able to stretch out. Glad to be able to take a deep, clean breath. And glad to look over at the windowsill with pride and say,
“OMFG THE BOY RUN FOR YOUR LIFE THE TOMATO’S BECOME SENTIENT AArggHH-GAAAAA!”