brni (brni) wrote,

the river runs deep, the roots dig deeper

There are cast of bits of past lives that follow us into the present. Old love letters. Stuffed animals that come to us one pleasant Valentine's Day. We drag the boxes filled with these things out of the closet on subsequent, bleaker Valentine's Days, to reinforce our misery, or to reinforce our decisions. Perhaps they will be seen less and less frequently as our lives move on and the pain and pleasure of those memories become less vivid. Or perhaps we'll one day ritually destroy them, symbolically annihilating those emotions that we cannot bring ourselves to let go.

For me, a surprisingly large number of these things are alive, and carry their own sense of responsibility.

The first of these was a Norfolk Pine. M. and I had been walking through some sort of fair being held at West Chester State College where she had just started school, maybe a month after we had broken up. This would have been August or September of 1984. There was a vendor selling ridiculously tiny pine trees. The pot that it came in was perhaps the size of my thumb from the knuckle to the nail. It dwarfed the actual plant. We each got one. Last autumn, it had grown too large to come back into the house for winter, and did not survive the cold. Interestingly, this came only after M. found and settled in with the gentleman who looks to be the one that's right for her. Symbolism is a strange thing. And while it would probably have been wholly misunderstood if I had sent her the dead plant as a housewarming gift, it probably bodes well for the future of their relationship.

It was a year after she had moved to Seattle for a Ph.D. program that R. referred to me as her "favorite ex-boyfriend." That was the first time that she'd uttered the B word in reference to me in any way. She'd always been careful to stress that I was a friend only, and that though the sex was good, it didn't mean anything. No commitments. No entanglements. We both knew she was moving away after she got her MS. I would have followed her, had that been an option. It wasn't. Instead, I took in her philodendron plants when she moved. They have been re-potted and pruned many a time, but they're still strong and vibrant, and were some of the few plants that escaped the scale that Replacement-Replacement-Boy-Girl brought into our house when she temporarily stayed with us for a month a year.

Another survivor was the Framer's Workroom Hibiscus. There's no sex involved in this one at all. It was bought to beautify our scenic workplace, and the only place it fit was directly over the heating vent. It died. All the leaves wilted, turned yellow, fell off. The branches withered. It was declared dead and put out on the curb. I took it home and watered it, and was not at all surprised that it actually enjoyed being watered and not living on a heater. It has survived drought and scale and a full-out iguana attack. I washed it down today in preperation for bringing it in before the frost, and that's where this little wandering voyage into nostalgia took root.

That's probably enough for now. Tomorrow I'll tell you about James' plant.

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