Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Detour: The More Things Change, The More Things Change

There is a moment I remember from years ago. I was standing on Mount Washington in Pittsburgh, PA looking down at the city lights. I was with my boyfriend at the time; we'd been together a couple years or so. It was a beautiful night and we were having a great time. We were also in the process of breaking up, though neither of us was up to admitting it yet. I was about to move out of the city. I would come back to visit more than once, but by then our relationship would have dissolved. Some part of me knew in that moment all the things I couldn't articulate, things that were moving and changing, things that needed to move and change for growth to happen, things that I myself had a part in setting in motion.

I have been a renter all my life. Another goal in this move: buy a house.

I do not have a particularly good opinion of landlords. And if I reread that sentence I want to laugh out loud. Because the truth is, I am seriously convinced that they all go to Landlord School and take courses in how to be the biggest pricks they can possibly be.

This time, we'll only be screwed out of $250. My landlord decided that the backyard of the house we lived in is overgrown and we are responsible. Nevermind that he told me he would have a gardener come and cut it down after we moved out. (“Yes, but I never said at my expense.” Bastard. Bastard. Bastard. Bastard.) So he got an estimate and somebody, who's job I definitively need, told the fool that to trim back a pea-sized yard it would cost $350 – that's right ladies and gentlemen, my golden-hearted landlord is absorbing $100 of the cost – say it with me – Out. Of. His. Own. Pocket!

The fact that I will be charged for lack of gardening is so ironic, as to cause me to want to bite down on something like the stump of a giant petrified log and gnash my teeth for a good long time (but that would mean returning to Arizona, so nevermind).

“All I ask is that it needs to go back to the way it was. I'll send you pictures of what the backyard looked like when you moved in!” Mr. Landlord says to me. I don't give a flying fuck what it looked like when I moved in. And here, my friends, we enter the real conflict of thought.

He wants it the way it was. Hmm. Then I will have to try my darnedest to take the thriving passion flower vine climbing the trellis outside the living room window and return it to a struggling upstart. I will have to snap every bloom off the stupid-ass roses he left for us along the front yard wall. I will siphon all the homemade compost from the gopher-proofed garden beds we added and stamp out the wild flowers that moved in to the side yard.

We as humans have completely unreasonable expectations about returning things to the way they used to be. As if that is ever possible. Not to mention, we are also majorly conflicted about growing things. Look at the gardening section of your average store that carries any such items.

Fertilizer. Potting Soil. Round-up. Ceramic Pots. More Round-up. Seed Packets. Some product that means sure death to all bugs good or bad that enter here. Nurture/Kill. Nurture/Kill. We're lost. We're desperate for control. We will do anything to deny that in fact, things grow, and do not return to how they were. Sometimes that's pretty difficult to take in. Sometimes it makes a person a little edgy. Usually, we have no idea just when change begins or exactly how it sprouted. Usually, it takes us a very long time to catch up with the fact that it has happened at all.

We change things before we admit consciously what the full array of consequences to that change will be. Otherwise, we probably would never do it. My heart is still full of Monterey. There is nothing else yet to replace it with.

In an otherwise innocuous discussion about the microwave in the house we stayed in in Santa Fe, I proffer, “I guess we're used to the one we have at home.” A sentence that calls us all to stop short. We exchange shy, sad smiles. “I mean, in the old house,” I correct.

Isaac has been somewhat prone to meltdowns on this trip so far. Moreso than his usual pretty easy-going self. Chalk it up to less sleep, or lack of routine or major life upheavals. One morning, he had come down from his sleeping perch in the second floor pop-up portion of the van to have breakfast, which he wanted to have while curled up in the covers of our sleeping perch. Somewhere along the line, blankets became tangled in a way he disapproved of. Things devolved down a track that was both tragic and ridiculous, as many situations can become when you are six, until finally he was shoutinga bout the blankets, tears streaming, “I just want it back how it was! I want it to be how it was before!!”

And before I knew it, I was crying, too.


Daryl said...

Hugs to you all ... change is never easy. And I promise eventually it will all be okay again ...

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about the glory that was that garden just the other day Kitty. I have a friend here in portland who has welcomed me into her backyard garden wonderland just as you all invited me to be part of yours. You'll always have those memories and have a lifetime to make more memories in a garden that is untouched by some devestatingly lame landlord

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