I was raised by New Yorkers outside of Washington, DC, visiting New York City and Brooklyn regularly as a child, as well as Boston and Cambridge. I went to school in New York City and intended to stay there my whole life.
During my freshman year of college, I was deeply alarmed to learn that tomatoes grow in soil. Until I got to college, I had no idea how vegetables were grown. My parents, you see, had failed me in this regard.
Like many of my friends, I had a weird childhood, though I didn’t know it at the time. For example, my parents told me there were murderers waiting for me in the woods and discouraged me from doing things like hiking, trail running, riding on bike paths that had tree cover, and taking photographs of rivers, animals, and plants in their natural environments. Conversely, I was raised to think big cities were safe – except for the strangers I shouldn’t talk to because they wanted to give me candy laced with LSD. But, generally speaking, my parents seemed to think a big metropolitan area with a high crime rate was a much safer place for a child than suburbia.
This summer, my
boyfriend fiancé, who doesn’t even like tomatoes (!), planted many tomato seeds in our his garden. “Tomatoes are hard to grow,” I warned him in a defeatist tone. “How do you know that?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I replied. Gardens, I knew intuitively, are a labor of love, particularly in this case.
Our cherry tomatoes have started to appear, though they remain stubbornly small and green. The bigger ones seem to be in no hurry to flower or fruit any time soon, which I presume is typical of tomato plants in the northern climes, but what do I know.
Gardening, I’ve come to learn, is not always immediately rewarding. The kind of people who garden, I suspect, are perhaps a lot like my
boyfriend fiance, who takes pride in hard work and also has hobbies that involve trying to keep living things alive, thereby coming into direct contact with death more often than someone like me, whose hobbies consist primarily of buying Italian footwear, planning exotic vacations, and reading nonfiction.
As I will elucidate in my upcoming post, “An Uplifting Story About Cancer,” I am not unfamiliar with death. In fact, death and finality have personal, visceral meaning to me. Maybe this is why I avoid doing activities that make me think of dying.
My once vibrant hibiscus plant has aphids or something gross like that, and I’ve started to avoid it like the plague. I want nothing to do with something that used to be beautiful and is now starting to decay. My
boyfriend fiancé is trying to save it, knowing that I will do a half-assed job due to my inability to love home decor unconditionally. Yes, I consider plants home decor. I suck at decorating. Obviously.
These things are hard to admit about yourself. You consider yourself all loving and progressive until faced with keeping a couple of plants healthy. Then you realize you are a heartless jerk, and secretly know that it’s only a matter of time until you move to Branson and start voting Republican.