Post by Randee Bergen (www.randeebergen.wordpress.com)
I’ve got these weeds.
It’s not what you’re thinking. They’re not horribly out of control or an embarrassment. It’s not as if I need to get to them today or all hope will be lost. But they’re growing and they’re on my mind.
I head first to the backyard, my third of it. The daughters and I each have one-third of the yard to keep in check. Our front yard is xeriscaped and our backyard, well, let’s just say it’s a dog yard. Not much back there but dirt, some leftover gravel, litter from the trees, dog poop, and the weeds. My third looks the worst right now, as I recently told the girls they had better get to their sections if they planned on doing anything fun anytime soon. But, it’s not so bad. It takes me just a half an hour to pull the sparse collection that has popped up since I was last out here. Long enough to experience the light-headedness that comes to me when I am bent over for an extended period of time. Long enough, too, to get lost in my thoughts, come to some realizations, and want to get inside to start writing about them.
I pour some tea, add some ice cubes, and fire up the laptop. “What do you think you’re doing?” I ask myself. “You still have all those weeds in the alley.” Part of me knows that once I start writing, I won’t quit.
So I head to the alley. I pulled weeds here just a few weeks ago. But it’s been raining and one of my realizations was that weeds are like kids. You turn your head for a few minutes and when you turn back they’ve grown a foot.
The weeds release readily and the garbage can is right there so disposing of them is easy, too. In a bit, I hear a diesel truck approaching and look up. It’s my friend, Jim. He is stopping by to drop off my kayak, which is still in the back of his truck from our paddle yesterday. We unload the boat, then return to the alley. He bends to pull a few weeds, like one might try to quickly fit a couple of pieces to a jigsaw puzzle if it were in front of him, and then he’s sucked in and we visit while we work. I ask about his dad’s cancer treatment, the progress on his flip houses, and whether he gets dizzy when he pulls weeds. I’m at the point where I have to close my eyes when I straighten and walk towards the garbage can because everything around me is swimming. “Well, that’s the good thing about Carhart’s and boots,” he says. “I usually sit down when I pull weeds and just scoot along as I go.” I’m wearing flip-flops and a sundress.
Not long after Jim leaves, my 15-year-old comes out. “Mom, can you drive me to work?” She could walk; it’s only a mile. But I try not to miss these opportunities to drive her where she needs to go. We have such good conversations in the car, she and I, ones I know, for whatever reason, might not be had in the kitchen. She’ll have her driver’s license in six months and will no longer need me to drive her anywhere. I welcome the break and the opportunity.
Back to the alley now and I’m making good progress. The end is in sight. “Mom?” Pause. “Mom!” It’s my 16-year-old. She must have seen some movement or the orange of my dress behind the fence, making her change her punctuation.
I have an immediate image of our basement, flooded. The last time I saw Addy she was down there doing laundry. But I don’t get too excited. “Oh, yah?”
“Yes! I’m going to be late to work! I went to get gas and I tried to use my debit card but there wasn’t any money in my account. I thought I had 350 dollars. Anyway, can I take your car?”
“Um, no, but I can drive you.” I rarely get to drive this one anywhere anymore.
“Why can’t I just take your car?” She’s frantic; this is an emergency, after all.
“Because I have plans for the day, things I need to do.” Not really, maybe grocery shopping later, but I don’t like to be without my vehicle. Plus, there has to be at least some sort of consequence for draining her bank account and not even realizing it. Walking would be good, but her destination is 12 miles away.
“Okay, then hurry.” She turns and goes back inside. I give the remaining weeds a foreboding look. Don’t grow while I’m gone.
In the car, Addy says she needs some caffeine and asks if I could bring her an Arizona Tea after dropping her off. “Well, here’s the deal, Addy. We have tea at home. You could have had some.”
“But, mom, that kind of tea doesn’t work like other caffeine. Please?”
Of course, I think, of course I’ll get her tea. How often do I get to buy this girl a drink now that she has her own money and her own wheels?
Back home again. Back to the alley. All that remains is a small, dense section that is mostly grass. It’s difficult to pull any of this. It’s all grown too high, too strong, with long robust roots. It’s too late.
I decide to go in. I know that the next time I look, I’ll have regrets. Time passes and it rains and we have to turn our heads regularly. The sun shines and then it rains some more. I can’t give my weeds constant attention or they’ll never grow into the big, strong, autonomous things that they’re meant to be. They won’t be weeds. The next time I look, Amy will be driving off in her own car and Addy will be graduating from high school, with, hopefully, at least a little money in her bank account.
Weeds. No matter how much tending you do, they do tend to get away from you.