i drove a plant across this country once, from brooklyn to oakland.
the plant sat in the back while my sister april was with me, til denver. after extensive and thorough pat benatar and mariah carey singing, april hopped a flight back east and i moved the plant up to the front seat to take on the salt and red rocks of the west.
i can’t remember why i had this plant now, but my sister autumn had given it to me and, based on it’s name, it was supposed to go back to her at some point.
the plant was called autumn’s-plant-please-don’t-die.
in my spotty memory, autumn made it seem like caring for the plant would be ‘easy’, which garden-y people often do…’oh you just water-feed-talk to-put it in sunshine-don’t overwater-don’t oversun-LOVE it!’ i have gently ended the lives of spider plants, aloe plants, and everything in between, listening to these relativist caveats.
but there i was, driving a big van where, between my back and the end of the vehicle, were all the things i loved/held dear/thought i needed in order to live in the alien nation of california…with a plant hanging from the passenger mirror. i drove, singing at the top of my lungs and telling autumn’s-plant-please-don’t-die about the questions on my mind: would i be a good executive director? eh. how long would i live in cali? 3 years. could i make it outside new york? jury’s still out. is my writing career over? no.
i am not a gardener by any stretch or even deep misunderstanding of the word. i love watching the hands of people who garden, gentle and kind of dirty, of earth, these people who have a way with plants. in the past few months i have killed an air plant which only needed occasional moisture, as well as something sold to me as ‘eternal bamboo’.
i travel more than i am home. i am the main living thing i can sustain at this point, and that takes my full attention.
and yet for autumn, i was able to care for this plant, engage it, travel with it. it lived longer than any other plant i have slowly killed, by multitudes. it died eventually, sure, but it had an incredible, luscious, loved and exciting life.
but, you know, i have made choices in my life which don’t lead to thriving gardens.
because it is the most natural and common experience in the world, i think it’s easy to forget how truly brave and brilliant the act of parenting, caring for other living creatures, actually is. life and safety and happiness and health are all in your hands, little people who cannot care for themselves are looking to you for literally everything related to their well-being.
and here i am, heading west again, midwest, this time on a flight. autumn is once again putting something alive in my hands, making me become worthy of giving care. this weekend i get to be on point with the kids for the first time, by myself. so far i have basically shown myself to be capable of this kind of thing, at least in the last five years or so. and yet as i head into it i feel the preciousness of it all.
being responsible for other people is perhaps the greatest maturing that humans experience.
i have explored this in love…here is my heart. can you be careful with it? sweet to it? thoughtful and mindful and honest and passionate and just…good to it? oh, you are human, i get it. but can you really try? the emotional work of love is familiar and exciting to me, learning constantly how, how, how to really love myself and others.
this feels like all of that tender risk, heightened. in love, there are at least two adults navigating the fraught territory of vulnerability and opening, building desire and building trust and learning each other. it is such a beautiful and collaborative work. with the babies, there is immense collaboration and co-creation of a magical world of discovering how mindblowing reality is, learning to emote and stuff…
and the majority of things they want to do could potentially result in something horrific.
so i ask all of y’all to send lots of love fun safe life vibes to me with my beloved babies for the next few days. we will likely be singing at the top of our lungs and full of joy. but part of me will be keeping everyone alive simultaneously, and i have no green/baby thumbs, just more love than i know what to do with.