Monday, October 03, 2005

Black Thumb

I am no gardener. However, I think that there is a technique that is used called "hardening" when it is time to transfer seedlings that have been grown in a greehouse into the ground. I don't know how it's done. Probably, the most I know is from the directions in a Martha Stewart magazine that I read while eating breakfast. But my image of this process involves not watering the plant for a few days so that when you pull it out of its little black plastic muffin cup, the root structure comes right out with a little cupcake of dirt protecting it. If you kept watering it right up until the day of transfer, the seedling would pull right out of the wet mud, but would probably leave a lot of its root structure behind.

I believe that I am hardening. Sometimes it's deliberate: Saturday, the last last Farmer's Market, I was invited to a classic island party: BBQ, lots of old islanders, stage for a band. However, for some reason, I just wanted to go home and be by myself. Even though Faith invited me and I'm currently pretty smitten with Faith. I just couldn't imagine putting myself out there like that, especailly because Jeff wouldn't be there to retreat to when I wanted to stand in a metaphorical corner and just watch the party.

Because the thing is, they like me, they really like me. I know this because Sunday, I threw caution to the wind and went to a bunch of different places where there were friendly people. And, everywhere I went, people talked about how they would really miss me. Me. This is an island full of people that are used to saying good-bye, especially around this time of year. But Holly talked about missing my energy and Bridget wants me to come over for dinner before I go and Julie said that she'd miss me at the Farmer's Market next year. Without realizing it, I have put out more roots than I ever intended to.

I went to yoga in the morning, then to church, where all the old ladies are. These past few Sundays they have said good-bye as if I were leaving that Monday, even though I remind them that I've still got a couple more weeks. Then I went to the Farmer's Market party at 2:00. That was in this neat little space called The Living Room, which is a spot downtown that is dedicated to being a space for small gatherings like poetry readings, art shows and parties like this. It's probably 20 feet by 16 feet, has a little gas fireplace that can be turned on to make things merry, a funky paint job on the concrete floor and a couple of long tables that make for easy buffets. The guys from Slappy Tubbs were at one end playing good ole non-Slappy Tubbs music. There were some potluck desserts (desserts from farmers tend to be pretty fantastic), really good wine, and both regular and dessert pizzas baked on-site from Armand, who is a European-trained baker and has a trailer that he has made into a commercial bakery. I had a conversation at this party with a woman named Owl, who grew up in Chicago and lived there for awhile so her daughter could go to high school somewhere other than the island. I spent time with Nicole and Holly and Faith. I danced with Rhonda and Erika and Steph and Andrew. I held a month old baby that looked like a little dwarf. I also drank wine. One of the hosts kept coming around and refilling my glass with yummy pinot blanc and I kept saying thank you. Before I knew it, I was leaning against a post, thinking, "You know, I think I'm drunk." I like being older than I was because I know now what to do in those situations. I poured out the rest of the glass that I had, filled it with water and sat down for a few minutes. Then, I got up and enjoyed it by dancing some more. I had to stay a full two hours more until I was good to drive to my next social function! It was good, though, because I got to have a really cool conversation with a guy named Bruce about music. It turns out that he was living in Berkeley, CA during the sixties and was right in the middle of the music scene. When asked what moment in history I would go back in time to experience, I will usually answer A) a science fiction convention in the fifties so I could meet Isaac Asimov in his prime or b)the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 so I could see Jimi Hendrix stare down Pete Townsend. Plus, Otis Redding. Yum. It turns out that Bruce went to every other concert in that area in that time EXCEPT Monterey Pop, because it was a whopping $5.50 to get in. :-) He also runs the internet radio station taht plays only island musicians. Check it out at
RadioFree Olga
. I like that interaction because I see Bruce everywhere but I've never had a conversation with him. Yet another root tendril that I've sent out. Thanks a lot pinot blanc.

So, I left The Living Room after-party to head out to Rachel's house. In packing up to leave Mindy's house, I realized that I had a lot of heavy, bulky baking supplies that would be a pain-in-the-ass to move for the relative cheapness. Since Rachel is a fantastic cook and baker, I wanted to give them to her as well as some fabric that I'd brought home from the Exchange that I was never going to use. She also fell in love with one of the paper mache bowls that I had made from a baby-name book from the sixties. She had said she'd be willing to trade, so when I brought it to her, she and I talked about a bag that I'd like her to make from some fabric that I'm totally in love with. I played with her baby some, letting him put his whole hand in my glass of water repeatedly. I'm pretty much a sucker for babies.

I had put Rachel on the itinerary because I was really headed out to Allan's house for Sauna Night. She lives basically next door. I've had only one Sunday off all summer so I've missed all of these Sauna Nights. So, despite Jeff's absence, I was going and it was a great low-key night with good food, nice people (who told me how much it sukced that I was leaving), and a good sweat with Bridget, who can make fart noises with her back by lying down on the wood benches of the sauna. While I was cooling off sitting naked on a bench outside the sauna in the pitch-dark surrounded by forest, I saw two falling stars. Why am I leaving?

Jeff is away on a week and a half long sea kayak trek through the islands. I think the fact that I've gotten comfortable in this community that he has introduced me into is telling. I have made friends with his friends and even his ex-girlfriends as an independent ranther than simply as half of a couple. So, I allowed these friends to water my roots a little and put off hardening a little longer. I mean, I've still got two weeks; I'll start to wilt with NO water.

What's interesting about this metaphor that I've been using is that if you leave seedling in their plastic pots too long, they die for lack of space to put their roots. When you transplant them, their roots have completely filled the little pots and taken its form and they have less of a chance of surviving in the garden because they take less soil with them. This island is a little plastic muffin tin that has been in a greenhosue and I have to take advantage of this window of opportunity to transplant myself into a larger garden. I have to go now so that I can take as much of the soil from this place as possible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good story, good metaphor. (Explain what is a metaphor when you get home.)
Love, the dad