In a fit of post-separation energy back in June, I planted a garden in the backyard. Nothing too serious; just some swiss chard, celery, peppers, basil, and butternut squash. I weeded, watered, waited. The swiss chard came up brilliantly, as did the basil; they came in like gangbusters.
But the celery is taking forever to thicken and sweeten. The pepper plants’ leaves look rusted. The butternut squash plants had plenty of blossoms, but so far, no squashes to speak of. I’m not sure what happened, though my best guess is that June was too late to plant. Whatever the reason, it’s long past time for me to have given up on my garden — we’ve had two frosts, and there’s nowhere near enough sunlight now to generate much growth — but I still check it obsessively every day.
I check all kinds of things obsessively, and it’s something I hate about myself. I look at pictures on Facebook, trying to understand the family lives of my friends. I like to say I’m learning about adulthood, teaching myself about the ways of people who are keeping their shit together, but I’m pretty sure I’m just a creeper on the hunt for fuel to stoke my envy. I’m curious and clueless.
I do it: I look at pictures of my friends who seem happily married with children, and I wonder if they really are as happy as they seem. And, if they are as happy as they seem, I wonder how they got there; what did they do right that I totally pooched in my own life? It’s like sick, dead-end detective work; it’s like a witch hunt.
The weirdest thing is, I don’t even need to be a creeper; I have a life of my own. Even though a divorce has bounced me off the common “track” of love-marriage-kids, I have friends literally across the hall, a constantly wonderful boyfriend down the street, and parents five miles away. I have a job I enjoy, and I go out and do fun things with cool people more than once a week; how many people can say that? I don’t even need to constantly check my non-productive garden; there was a fantastic farmers’ market all summer within walking distance of where I live that more than made up for my lack of a green thumb. In other words, I don’t NEED to beat my head against the wall; what a relief!
But I do it anyway, and of the bad habits I have, this is the one I’d like to get rid of the most. No, Sam, that butternut squash isn’t coming, and you actually don’t need to waste your time looking at pictures of your various friends’ and exes’ children because you finally do have better things to do. It’s like the Lucinda Williams song; I can’t let go. And I really should learn how, because objectively, despite its tribulations, my life is amazing, and who knows for how long that will be true.
So farewell creeping, farewell frozen garden; this divorced chick is going to try to take it all less seriously. It’s time to stop always looking for things instead of seeing what I already have, and what I already have is pretty damned good.