leaving plants.

I love the smell of Home Depot. Every time I walk in a take a big long, deep breath. Trying, of course, not to appear insane, which is really difficult to do.  I never know where the thing I need is in that store, and that’s okay. I don’t mind. Because it just smells so gooood.  I say “no thanks” to offers of help from the apron people because I like to wander their aisles, pondering the possibility of redoing my mailbox with fancy numbers or wondering if it would be wrong to use an outdoor pillow inside.  I sit on their bench swings and close my eyes for just a moment, maybe two. I wander to the aisle where they have all their products to clean stuff and I stare in amazement while thinking I have probably been cleaning my whole house ineffectively for possibly my whole life.

Once, after just having moved to Maine, I was in Home Depot looking for a new filter for my humidifier. Actually it was for the toddler’s humidifier. I thought there should be a section for it, and I found myself in the de-humidifier area. Commence conversation with Home Depot Apron Guy just trying to help:

Him: So can I help you find something?
Me: Yes, I’ve been looking for a filter for my humidifier.
Him: Oh, well you’re in the right section!
Me: That’s fantastic. So… where are they?
Him: They’re right here. (Looking at me like I’m an idiot.)
Me: That says “DE-humidifier.”
Him: Right.
Me: I want to humidify.
Him: Wait, what?
Me: I want to humidify.
Him: No one humidifies here. Are you new?
Me: Well, yes actually.
Him: Then surely you’re confused. We have the humidity here. We don’t want it.

Cue sneezing, coughing toddler.

Him: OH, you want to humidify him!
Me: (trying to hold back giggles) Yes, and, please.
Him: Yeah we don’t have those here, try Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
Me: Of course.

But the trip was not in vain. It was summer. And summer meant the garden section was in full bloom. As much as I love the general smell of Home Depot, I think I just may love their garden section a bit more. I love the beginnings of their spring and summer when their perennials and hanging baskets overwhelm the aisles and greet me in the parking lot. I love looking at what plants need only 25% shade or which ones do best inside. I inspect the tiny pots of spices- the parsleys, cilantros, and rosemarys- their aromas fill my nostrils and my heart with pure joy.

I want every one of these beautiful plants. I want the flowers. I want the extra soil. I want the gardening gloves and shears. I want the big floppy hat. I want to know what to do with fertilizer and when.

I have to force myself away from this space because this longing for horticulture begins to tear at the edges of my soul.

I don’t know why I insist on visiting my little sanctuary in Home Depot, knowing that I will buy not even one tiny potted plant. I will purchase neither garden hose nor garden troll. I literally go to Home Depot just to stop and smell their silly roses.
And then I cry a little.
I cry because if I buy a plant, I will plant it. I will plant it and water it and love it. I will wait for it to bloom. I will cheer it on as though it’s my full time job. I will pray for it and hope for it.  I will take pictures of it and log it as noteworthy on all social media outlets to which I am a part. I will credit myself- gardener extraordinaire!- when the thing blooms or doesn’t just look completely sick and wretched. I might even name it. That’s not weird, right? Well let’s say I don’t name it, but I consider it mine and I wish it a lifetime full of happiness.

And then, I will have to leave it.

I’ll have to leave it to someone else, or worse, nobody else. Because it can’t come with me, and I must go.

Because this is the life we/I chose. The life of moving. The life of service.  The life of leaving plants.

I just can’t bear to leave any more plants so I just don’t buy them. I don’t have it in me to spend that kind of time. Make that kind of commitment, just knowing that the next person who lives HERE isn’t going to care about my PLANT. They won’t realize that this PLANT was all that I had, that it was the one thing keeping me going while I was waiting. Waiting on a phone call, waiting on the hope of an email, waiting on a letter, waiting for a boat to leave, waiting for a boat to return, waiting for orders, waiting for promotions. In all these years I’ve been keeping dinner waiting, keeping a baby waiting, keeping a toddler waiting, keeping family waiting for news of news, of life, of excitement, of anything that might convince them that yes, I did get married to a person that does exist and that I haven’t been living in an elaborate scheme designed only to get myself a full set of dinnerware and new towels.

After waiting on my person for so long, waiting on a plant seemed predictable and easy. And I need that. I need predictability, reliability. I need to know that something I’ve nurtured is going to be okay and not be relocated or told it’s not good enough or it isn’t working long enough or it didn’t do enough to get the job done. I want my PLANT to know it is good enough just because it is my PLANT and it is there, being beautiful, creating CO2

So I can’t go to Home Depot anymore. But because the universe has a snarky side, I can’t seem to really get away from it. Trees, shrubs, and hanging plants accost me as I make my way to the local warehouse store for my weekly collection of three half gallons of soymilk, two gallons of skim milk, and one gallon of almond milk, amongst of course, other necessary and important warehouse purchases.

I must also endure my neighbor, right across the street, endlessly pruning and planting, collecting and gathering so that her space is a specimen of yard perfection. She seems like such a sweet woman and I want to ask her for advice, but I can’t even walk across the street because my contempt for her safely guarded lilies and violets makes me only want to vomit a little in my mouth.

What once was just a thought, a mere- ‘won’t it be nice when we get out and…’ has become a gut wrenching, heart pounding, nerve wrecking, hamster wheeling, mind exploding heartbeat of ‘I can’t wait to be done with this lifestyle’ melody that repeats over and over like a certain song that never ends.

The root cause of the disintegration of my little world actually has roots.

And I want them too.
And I want them now.
And I’ll take an Oompa-Loompa and a Golden Egg while you’re at it.

expectations.

There is something special about a perfect sandwich. The right combination of meat, cheese, bread, and toppings is something truly extraordinary. I have spent an unreasonable amount of my time trying to create such a sandwich. Let’s be clear- I never try to compete with those wonders of a sandwich that can only be found in a favorited neighborhood deli, I would never dare enter that competition; I’d fail miserably. I just look to create something more exciting than what can be made by a so-called ‘sandwich artist,’ but not so reaching as to incur costs like owning a personal meat slicer.

I had a great friend in college whose dreams were very similar to mine, and we endeavored together to create the perfect sandwich, and we of course over spent our study break allowance to this purpose. But all work paid off and after a semester of macroeconomics we could explain what long-run consequences inflation might have on demand within a given marketplace while also eating a really amazing sandwich. We called it the “Meunster Sandwich.”

The official make up of this Meunster Sandwich is as follows: Hawaiian Sandwich roll (We needed the actual sandwich sized roll, not the smaller dinner rolls and not the big huge family loaf, this was/is important.), Kraft Mayo, muenster cheese (hence the muenster), and Boars Head Sausalito Turkey. That’s it. Don’t try to put a pickle on it or use mustard. Just the specific bread, meat, cheese and mayo.
Well almost.
The other part of this perfect sandwich was that I would make my friend’s sandwich and she would make mine. Because part of a perfect sandwich is to never make your own. Sandwiches always taste better if someone else has made it. This is scientific fact.

It was the perfect sandwich in every way.

And because every perfect sandwich needs a perfect drink and side, we would always get a gallon of Publix Sweet Tea and a big bag of barbeque potato chips to share without judgment.

Now it’s the perfect meal.

Occasionally when we decided to make this perfect sandwich/meal combination we would go to Publix and they would be out of sweet tea. The trip would then involve filling out a customer complaint, at the very least, and/or an inquiry to customer service to see if this was in fact absolutely true/telling them this can’t be true.

Several times we went and they did not have our Hawaiian Sandwich sized rolls. This really put our whole project to a halt. Despite what you’re thinking, we really couldn’t do this sandwich with the smaller dinner rolls. There would have to have been a formula to figure out, how many dinner rolls equaled a sandwich roll, no one wanted to cut cheese into smaller squares, not to mention feeling weird for eating two, three or four tiny sandwiches compared to just one sandwich, even if we decided it was okay to call it a ‘monster/muenster sandwich.’

And there was one unfortunate day when there was no Sausalito Turkey left. We tried a substitute and the whole sandwich was such a sad replacement disappointment that we started calling the deli in advance to make sure they had the appropriate turkey in stock.

We had created an expectation. An expectation that Publix would understand our need for this Muenster/Monster sandwich and be able to provide its necessary ingredients at any time of the day, and day of the week, regardless of the (college) marketplace demands for Hawaiian sandwich rolls or the restocking schedule of the Sausalito turkey people.

As all good things do end, I eventually graduated and found myself far from my friend, far from our Publix, and eventually outside the boundaries of the perfect sandwich ingredient zone. I’ve lived and looked for them on all sides of the country. Some sides do not have the Sausalito turkey, others don’t have the Hawaiian roll. Almost always I can get muenster cheese, but if I don’t have the rest of the ingredients, using muenster cheese is just a sad reminder of the sandwich I’m not eating.

The disappointment of the unrealized expectation is what cuts. Creates a void where a sandwich should be, even if the expectation of this continued sandwich is unrealistic and wholly self-engineered and propelled.

But I want the sandwich, I’ve come to expect the sandwich, I feel entitled to the sandwich.

I mourn the loss of an ingredient, which is keeping the sandwich from realizing itself as a sandwich.

I hope the sandwich could magically, spontaneously still be THE sandwich, even without a key ingredient.

I mourn again, when I realize it just cannot be, will never be my sandwich.

I want to go back to where the sandwich started, despite travel and cost, because certainly in that town, in that Publix, it is still possible.

I expect the sandwich is being eaten by someone else; someone who doesn’t deserve it, someone who didn’t spend hours of their life creating, perfecting, and misusing ingredients until they uncovered this special universe sandwich secret.

I decide I actually really hated the sandwich, that it was never good for me anyways, and that it would really have only done me harm in the end.

I am certain the Sausalito Turkey people are intentionally creating a shortage of Sausalito Turkey, as part of a widespread conspiracy to keep me away from my sandwich and by extension, all happiness.

Sandwich sadness overwhelms.

Eventually, I stop trying to create the sandwich. I stop casing the grocery store for the “special sandwich turkey.” I stop noticing if the grocery store is stocking the Hawaiian dinner rolls and family rolls, but not the sandwich rolls. I stop leaving customer complaints for this obvious misallocation of product choice and space.

I eat a salad.

And then one day, almost by accident, I buy 7-grain bread, baked fresh and pre-sliced from the bakery. I realize I have half a jar of pesto at home that I should “use up.” I happen to have some Boars Head chicken lunchmeat, Swiss cheese left over from a new recipe I tried, and a fresh tomato. As if by instinct I put it all together and in the toaster oven.

As soon as I take my first bite, I realize I have stumbled upon another sandwich sensation. I realize in many ways this sandwich fulfilled in me something I didn’t know I needed or wanted. It allowed me to broaden my sandwich horizons and use the ingredients I already had. It was a new sandwich, but it fit me better. It got me excited and ready to see what else I could create, instead of relying on the same sandwich day in and day out. It was a gateway sandwich. It was if the universe was telling me, there will always be a sandwich out there for me. If it’s not a muenster it’s a pesto, if it’s not a pesto, it’s going to be something, and it’s going to extraordinary. That’s to be expected.