Nov 19
Yellow Sweater's picture

Complacency

I tended the small garden outside my small cottage for many years. I grew peas and poppies and rosemary. It was a nice garden. Sipping a cup of tea, my hands close to my mouth, I can smell a faint echo of the dirt that once coated my fingernails. 

I drove by my old house the other day. The thatched roof was still charmingly frumpy, but the garden was dry and tangled. It has become a wilderness, and gardens are not supposed to be wild. I miss getting dirty; I miss caring for something beautiful. I keep my Honda so terribly clean. The plastic inside shines. There is not a crumb in sight. And I suppose it goes without saying, but there are no flowers.  

I pulled into the driveway. It was instinctual. The gentle rumble of gravel was too familiar to be ordinary. I felt the sharp tug of the past as I steadied myself. I am old; even gentle bumps jarr my brittle bones. 

The house was exactly as I remembered it. But the garden, my garden was gone. Not wanting to get themselves dirty, they had let the outside go wild. I sighed as I rang the doorbell, leaning heavily on my cane. A middle aged man answered. He was dressed in a rumpled linen blazer, lightly worn jeans and wire rimmed glasses.  

He hesitated, unsure if he recognized me. “Um hello, is there something I can do for you?” 

I smiled and tried to make myself look like the endearing grandmother I was supposed to be. “I used to live here a long time ago. Is there any way I could take a peek?” 

“Uh, sure, of course.”  He stepped out of the way of my cane, gesturing me in awkwardly. 

That was all it took; I started crying. I felt the last eighty years pour into my heart. I couldn’t hold a moment more. I wobbled back to my Honda. I retreated into the spotless complacency of a passerby, of someone who stopped gardening long ago.