I planted my garden last weekend. Really, more potted than planted. Gone are the days of the sprawling garden in the backyard yard of the apartment on Cuyler Avenue, and figuring out what to plant and what would require the least amount of attention and considering what Ken might have appreciated.
My new “garden” is a 6 foot by 6 foot patio, surrounded by a manicured garden maintained by my condo building’s landscapers. Of all the items on my checklist for buying a place, a large outside space wasn’t one of them–nor could I have afforded one either. It’s not in my nature to tend to nature. (I blame my parents. You should too.) Plus, moving in the dead winter certainly didn’t conjure thoughts of springtime and planting. It was months after I bought that the snow receded enough to reveal what and how big my patio actually was.
I woke up early on Saturday morning and set out on my task of buying herbs to pot in the five that had been left behind by the previous owner. I had been looking forward to it–to actually doing it, and the tradition of doing it. I have a weird “laziness” that takes great comfort doing things or going places in the same way each time–even if it’s not faster or easier. Something about nostalgia and not having to really think about what I’m doing. Being on autopilot. But without really planning to, I changed my tradition. Different home store which begat different route which begat some different herb choices.
He wasn’t with me this year. Ken. Like he had been the last few years. It was just me, meandering through the aisles of Home Depot. Just me. But it wasn’t sad. It was just…normal. Well, that’s not entirely true. Ken is always with me. I think about him far too many times a day for him not to be. But I didn’t defer to him or his imagined choices as I have in past years. I was in control, and it felt easy. Previous years brought more insecurities in hoping I’d chosen the right things to plant in his/then my garden.
It felt different year. Though not really at the time. But thinking back. It was different. Because I wasn’t doing it to honor any memory of a shared life, or Ken’s incredibly green thumb. It was for me. Because I like having fresh herbs to cook with. It’s my tradition, planted firmly in the one Ken started, no doubt.
It’s a small win on the grief path–as so many of them are, but nonetheless important. I knew moving from the apartment we shared together to a new place–my place–would be good for me in more ways than acquiring home equity. I was right. Letting going of some of the old ways of doing things–out of necessity–has been…freeing for me. It’s not like I chose to change them. I had to. What remains is a very tiny slab of outside space that I think he would have appreciated, and that I love to use–for what I hope is going to be a glorious summer to make up for the frigid deep freeze of a winter we suffered through.
Stop by and join me for a cocktail, won’t you?