"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Indecision '08 (Not What You Think) Please Help Me!

I've sometimes mentioned the vortex of uncertainty in which I reside at the moment, and a resulting sense of--in some respects--not being in control of my own destiny. One uncertainty was erased yesterday, a great relief. Another was dispatched a couple of weeks ago. The biggie still looms...at some point on Tuesday evening, after the polls close, I shall have an answer to that question, also.

In my present situation I'm inclined to exert control wherever--and however--I can. I'm facing a difficult decision. Having discussed it at length with the Chap, I'm broaching it on my blog.

I need advice--or suggestions--about what action to take.

Once upon a time, I had far fewer houseplants than I've got now. It was a smaller collection that decorated my student digs, my apartments, and our first marital home. Here at the Lodge, I'm fortunate in having expansive windows, many of them south-facing, and a suitable indoor environment for growing things.

Add to this the fact that I've got chronically green fingers (British) and a deeply green thumb (American). If I choose to grow something, however finicky or demanding, it usually thrives. And even blooms. Regularly and repeatedly.

All this is to explain why my household is brimming with plant life. I grow fragrantly scented tropicals (sweet olive, jasmines), reliable bloomers like azalea and cyclamens and Christmas cactus, herbs and aromatics (scented geraniums, lavender, verbena, sage, rosemary), ivy and yew and box clipped from favourite gardens across the world, a bonsai citrus I bonsai-ed myself, a large rare loquat shrub that sprouted from the seed of a fruit eaten in Montreal, and not a few sentimental specimens rooted from cuttings taken in my mother's garden.

Many of these spend the warm months on our screened porch or big deck and come back inside for the winter. Which is why at this time of year, I'm acutely aware of the size and composition of the collection, so much so that downsizing seems like a good idea--possibly a necessity.

Here's my dilemma. The plant targeted for removal isn't easily disposed of. Because it has a History.

Two plants have lived with me since I was in my early teens. These are the lone survivors of college life, grad school, two cross-country moves, newly-wedded bliss, and Lodge living.

I adopted one, an arrowhead plant, from my very first friend, with whom I spent my toddler and childhood years. We can claim a very distant cousinship. We attended the same church. We played dress-up together. We had secret jokes. Our families holidayed together. We were both annoyingly (I suspect) precocious. And insanely stage-struck. Our lives were seamlessly intertwined...until her family moved to Texas.

Our reunion occurred in our teens, when she attended college near my parents' home. It's harder to be best friends when age differences intrude, and by then I had a best friend nearer my own age. Still, my first friend remained a part of my life...up to the moment she interrupted her education for an ill-fated runaway marriage to someone of whom nobody approved.

It was at that stage--her abrupt school-leaving--that her dorm room houseplant became a companion on my own life journey. Where she got it, I don't know.

This is what it looks like today.

Now a confession. I don't like that arrowhead plant and never really did. Most of the time it's ugly, unshapely, and unsightly.

Yet, in spite of this prejudice, for decades now I've tended it responsibly, occasionally resurrecting it from near-death. It spent countless weeks shut up in a box, in a moving company warehouse before being loaded on a truck and transported from Colorado to New England, and bounced back--to my dismay. At which point it was consigned to the Chap's home office, probably based upon my sublimated desire to pin the inevitable murder on him. In the end, I rescued it. Typically it is located in a place where I won't have to look at it. Much.

I now regret my many acts of mercy. My heart has hardened to the extent that I can now consider excising it from my life.

But what of sentimentality, the enduring connection to the friend of my youth? In fact, she passed out of my life over twenty years ago and I never saw her again. She joined the army. Divorced her husband. Became an anti-war activist. Got arrested. Married again. Travelled the world in support of her cause. Once in a while, I'll hear her interviewed on NPR. Or her name pops up in a print or web article. I could so easily contact her--and haven't. (I considered checking in to see if she wanted the plant back!)

The Chap and I discussed the arrowhead plant at length the other night, when after years and years of silence I admitted my true feelings and probable intentions. He tried to talk me down. What's up with that? I need an accessory, an ally, and he turned out to be neither.

The other of the two oldest plants I've got is a heart-leaf philodendron, equally tough but considerably more attractive. It briefly belonged to my mother...when I was a teenager she had a brief hospital stay and someone sent her the philodendron in a living arrangement as a get-well gift.

My mother is an amazing, knowledgeable, and skilled gardener but she never cared much about houseplants. So I adopted the philodendron, kept it in my bedroom long enough to confer outright possession. When I left home, it went with me.

It's definitely staying with me.

But the arrowhead plant...what should I do? It's irresistably tempting and would be so liberating to be rid of this unliked object after so many years. Meaning it's a question of if, but of how.

Some options:

I could take it to the town dump.

I could keep it another seven months and donate it to the parish plant sale.

I could send it back to my friend. (The weirdest option by far, for numerous reasons.)

I could force the Chap to take it to his office. (At least it would be out of my sight.)

What do you think? Or is there some other alternative? If you think of one, please share it in my comments area.


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