Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Beyond My Means
Ever since my arms were large enough to hold them, I have been bending to pick up things I should not have. I have accumulated kittens, puppies, boyfriends, and then children of my own—all in this stooping grasp for love. Life is a vacuum that is pulling at me from behind, and I am weighing myself down with things that need me, becoming, I hope, too heavy to be pulled into the void.
At five, I slept on the floor next to my bed and let the stuffed animals have the mattress.
"Kiss all of them," I said.
And they did.
The first human animal I brought home to keep—the first one I insisted was mine—is fifteen now and is developing the muscled upper body of a man. There is a man living in a smaller bedroom in my house, and I tell him to go to bed and to take a bite of kohlrabi before throwing it out. Ridiculous.
In six years he will be as old as I was when I conceived him. Time is a Mobius Strip. It is making me nauseated, watching it.
Yesterday, I went out to my winter garden bed, dragging my eldest son. I cajoled him into unsnapping the vinyl covers for me, and I looked at what was underneath. Chaos. Greens over-planted run to jungles, as if I wanted to feed a small army nothing but orachs and chards and kales. The spinach had been killed by encroaching Indian mustards, which had colonized the world. Radishes I missed had become tumors bulbous and bizarre, with multiple tumescent pregnancies mid-stem. Carrots, planted too close to their neighbors, were small and run to leafy growth. I pulled some beets and uprooted another arugula which had formed like a large sorority of spiteful green leaves, overshadowing everything else and hiding onions in its shade. I don't want any more arugula. I fed it to the ducks.
I have planted beyond my capacity again. There is more here than I will eat. I will continue buying other vegetables from organic farms and tossing greens into my chicken yard, telling myself it all turns into eggs. This is less than artful planning. It reflects an overestimation of my virtue, a belief that I will want to eat a multiplicity of greens, standing in the cold, my fingers buried in cold soil, my back screaming agony in the narrow space between the hoops, so that I can say, "I made this."
Kiss every one.
My life, I see, is overrun with creatures needing care, with plants flopped over in top-heavy growth, with chickens scratching at what should have been my raspberry bed. My house is littered with paper airplanes, charts on Bloom's Taxonomy, binders, cleats and the smell of Axe deodorant sprayed again about the house.
I would not want a life that was not used for the fodder of living things. I would not want to simply plant cold words on a page and watch sentences grow, without the interruption of a child who wants to play me "Heart and Soul" again. I would not want to have a week to myself without guilt, because to do it, I would have to kill them all while they lay at bed.
I live eternally and painfully beyond my means, spending money on hip hop lessons that there isn't, buying organic food that should be cream of corn. I have chickens that should be silent grass and ducks that should be sparrows pecking on Mother Nature's dime. I am a lunatic in love with those who need me, and someday I may file for bankruptcy, or collapse in vapors for days on end into my bed. I do not have the funds to sustain my project. Not the funds nor the talent nor the energy or time.
I am stubborn and I sow my seeds. I sow them, full of happy promise and harvest them through gritted teeth and pain, or over-caffeinated glee. I sow them and I stand back and watch them grow.
"Look," I say. "Look at what they're doing."
Kiss every one.
Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License