My week and a half long road trip to Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina was an exciting adventure, but coming home to missed friends and family was heartwarming. And for the first time in my life, I returned to a missed garden as well. After seven hours on the road heading north, rocking out to Jack Johnson with my friend Kyle behind the wheel, yesterday evening brought with it some awesome surprises. Despite unsteady legs from sitting still so long, I jumped out of his SUV to inspect the state of affairs in my front yard.
Though I had entrusted a neighbor with watering duties, I had prepared myself for the worst. Nevertheless, nature had stepped in and provided healing rains nearly every day of my trip. My begonias and impatiens doubled in size in my absence. My geraniums re-sprouted their flowers. My knockout roses, which had been bare since a few days after purchase, now boast nearly a dozen perfect magenta blossoms. The evening glories reached ever higher, lacing the slats of my porch.
Though it may pale in comparison to Mrs. Washington’s little nature preserve, the increase has made the garden full. Having Kyle by my side to witness the transformation was an added bonus. During a different seven hour span rocking out to Jack Johnson, he had labored side by side with me in that garden where we built up the beds and planted seeds of hope. Now, my garden is thriving beyond hope. I didn’t need to keep adding more plants… I just needed to wait for the existing ones to grow.
I suppose that’s the novice gardener in me showing her colors, having failed to give enough merit to time and nature taking their course, focused instead on those responsibilities within my control.
After a few moments celebrating the garden’s success, I headed over to see my brother’s family. I was concerned about my garden while I was away, but more concerned that my twin nieces, nearly a year old, wouldn’t remember me. Like my begonias and impatiens, Katarina and Theresa doubled in personality in my absence. Like my evening glories, my nephew is reaching new heights in wit and imagination. And like my garden greeted me excited to show off its growth, my nieces raced crawling to their auntie… clearly not forgotten. Theresa giggled in my arms. Katarina gave me one of her famous open mouth kisses. JJ curled up in my lap to read the book I’d brought him together.
The next stop was my friend Angela’s. Waiting for me on the front step, her smile lit up the dim street. We hugged long and hard, and as she held me, I realized just how much I have come to cherish her. I thought of our first meeting several months ago, set up like a blind date by one of my students, and how nervous I was, how lonely I’d been, how I had longed for a girl friend here in Hampton. Then, we had sat on a bench overlooking the marina downtown drinking coffee and making pleasant dialogue. Last night, we sat in her fenced in patio drinking wine and making deep conversation. The growth of our friendship rivals that of my garden.
Though I long for the intimacy of a romantic relationship that will mature into marriage and blossom with children, I’ve invested so much time, effort, and attention into what I lack that I neglected to see how much growth has taken place in my life recently. A little time away has put things in perspective. In reality, had I been at home in my normal routine, daily inspecting my garden, the impressive sum of its incremental growth would have been lost on me. Would I have been impressed by the progress my nieces and nephews have made if I had been visiting regularly? Would I have recognized the heightened sentiment for Angela without that welcome home embrace?
In essence, in my own life I had failed to give enough merit to time and nature taking their course, focused instead on those responsibilities within my control. We learn the value of a microscope in grade school, amazed at what we are able to see when what is within the lens is magnified. Thank the Lord that I’ve never stopped learning, because today I see the disadvantages of the microscope. While I have been focusing all my efforts on finding a man to share my life with, its importance has been magnified beyond merit. Eyes narrowed looking through the lens, I was missing the amazing advancements taking place around me.
Last week, on Verona Beach, Kyle and I sat in the sand letting the tide ebb and flow beneath us. We were mostly silent as the world performed. Fireworks sparked in the distance to the right, lightening struck in the distance to the left, and the waves crashed together before us. There was no microscope. The grandiosity and immensity of the ocean and the sky were not lost on me. An hour passed as we watched the sky turn from indigo to black and witnessed the stars emerge through the darkness. I controlled nothing. Time and nature were taking their course.
Tonight, typing my way to revelation back on my white wicker writing perch, the grandiosity and immensity of my life surrounds my consciousness. Back in Nashville, I had worked tirelessly to advance my career, completing my master’s degree while teaching at my six year post there. When I left the state of Tennessee to my ex in the divorce, I left my career aspirations with it. I left my writing urges and my friends.
A year ago today, I was offered my teaching position at Kecoughtan High School. Moving to Hampton has proven to be the best starting-over venture of my life to date. Every visit with my brother’s family leaves me feeling an overwhelming love for those children who bring immense joy. It is through my job that I met Kyle and Angela who have satisfied every need for friendship, companionship, and top it off with fun-filled summer days at the beach. It’s this very front porch that brought the writer in me back to life, and day seventeen of my writing nights yields another set of reflective realizations. Not only has teaching again restored my sense of meaning and purpose in life, but just today I met with my assistant principal to discuss the responsibilities of my new role heading up the English department.
I saw what a week and a half could do for my perspective in my garden. Look what a year can do? Freed from the microscope, I see abundance. I see thriving beyond any hope I had a year ago. I see growth in family, friendships, and career. A year ago, I hadn’t even considered gardening. Now, I see its growth mirroring that of my own life.
Don’t worry. I’m not giving up on my search for my husband. In fact, I have a date on Thursday with a new military man I met online. I just realize that I don’t need a man to complete the current portrait. Just like I didn’t need to keep adding more plants to my garden, but instead wait for the existing ones to grow, I find that my life garden is filling out nicely. When love finds me, it will be addition to flower beds already full of beauty and color and meaning. After all, who would look at a garden through a microscope lens?