One of my favorite parts of my garden was my climbing rose. I’d dug this plant out of the flowerbed in our old apartment. The gardeners kept whacking the rose to the ground (it wasn’t part of the landscaping) and it just kept growing back. Whack-grow-whack-grow. Finally one day I took a trowel and dug up as much of its root system as I could, and took it to my garden plot. It thrived and soon became a beast of a bush with runners everywhere. I tied them into a column and trained them over to a post on the other side of a path to form an arch. During the summer that I was sick, it was this rose bush that I thought about most often. It brought such joy to me. I’d decided that when John and I re-married (which we planned to do given that our Mormon temple marriage was so meaning-less to us after leaving the LDS church), I wanted to stand under that arch.
So a few weeks ago when our community garden was slated to be demolished, I left that rose arch as the last thing I dug out. It was so big, I figured there was no way I could extract it from the soil and put it into a pot. Some friends who were helping me with the garden said that they would try to rescue it for me, because they knew how much I loved that plant. They dug away at that thing for well over an hour, we had to cut some of the roots with a hacksaw to get the main plant out. But it seemed well-worth the effort for such a special rose…
When I took pictures in my garden, I nearly always used the macro setting. I liked to get close and see the details and patterns. The veins and textures. To spy small insects. To lose myself in a flower. I never did very well with pictures that showed the entire garden. They were too complicated and messy. The showed the tools and the weeds and the plants that hadn’t been watered well enough. Instead, I made my images close and tight and narrow. I saw what I wanted to see. That’s the PollyAnna in me, I suppose. I have an astute ability to shape the world into something that matches my expectations. While I don’t think that’s always a bad thing–and it’s certainly an excellent coping mechanism that I’ve honed after years of pain and discouragement–I am quickly learning that it has its downside.
All of my plants have stories. If you point to one and ask me about it, I’ll tell you who gave it to me, how long I’ve had it, and lots of other details about its growing habits. I especially love to tell the stories of my roses. It wasn’t until I was watering all of my rosebushes this morning that I realized something I hadn’t thought of before. Not one of them was given to me by John. In fact, I didn’t have any plants from him in my garden. I’m not saying that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that–John is not a garden person and he rarely visited my plot. But I think that’s part of this big picture that’s sort of hitting me between the eyes right now. Our priorities and passions are so different. I’ve seen what I want to see for so long. Made assumptions. Framed stories a particular way. Molded my interactions with my spouse to fit a rosy narrative in my head.
Perhaps its enough to say that I don’t even know if John knew that I wanted to marry under that arch. Perhaps its enough to say that I was so wrapped up in what I saw through the lens of my camera, that I wasn’t aware of what he saw through his–although over time I had noticed that we were no longer pointing our viewfinders in the same direction. Perhaps there really isn’t anything to say now, except that I am sans garden and sans John. He’s chosen to leave our marriage. As of a few days ago we are officially Separated, with plans to divorce.
I don’t think I’ve intentionally killed a plant before, but I’m realizing that I can’t continue watering the climbing rose. However, I don’t actually think it matters. The plant is nearly dead already. It couldn’t stand the shock of being uprooted and transplanted.
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