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not ours anymore, and the nature of growing

August 8, 2011

It’s official: we no longer own a home in North Carolina.

Upon learning of the finality of our home’s sale on Friday, I felt a physical relief.  My shoulders dropped a centimeter and my breath actually came easier.  After months of anxious porch-sweeping and Windexing and flower-buying, our Durham home now officially belongs to someone else, and for that I am so grateful.

“What on earth does this have to do with Science and Nature?” you wonder, squinting at your I-Pad.  “Can’t we get on with our maybe-chasing already?  Sheesh.”

I mention the sale of our home only to shade in the background of my current state of mind.  I am frazzled, living as we are in apartment limbo, mostly in boxes we’ll need to move again soon to a permanent residence.  My mind is trained on getting us into a new house, getting my sons ready for school, and getting meals on the table…  I’ve not focused much on my Chasing Maybes project.

When I thought about intentionally taking a few weeks off from this project, though, I was reminded of my mantra when working on my previous project, a gift a day“Think small,” I told myself, “Just show up.  Do what you can.”  I reminded my loudmouthed inner critic that I do my best thinking by writing — collecting my thoughts on the page leaves me clearer and more satisfied.  I reminded myself that this project isn’t a contest, and that, if you are reading it, you likely know me and care about me.  I assumed you would forgive my imperfection (authenticity?) and embrace me anyway.

Then, I took my boys to my hometown on Friday for the celebration of my grandmother’s ninety-ninth birthday.  They sprinted, elves in party hats, through her nursing home, charming the residents and annoying the staff.  They played with their girl cousins while my grandmother unwrapped her presents.  “You remember your granddaughter?” my mother placed a hand on my grandmother’s thin shoulder as she reintroduced us.  “She and her family just moved to Austin.”  My grandmother smiled politely, a well-mannered lifetime conveyed through her deliberate nod, but clearly had no idea who I was.  I was unsurprised by this, but it got me thinking.

My grandmother spent her life entertaining, hosting and attending parties, traveling, and meeting new people.  Those skills remain — she looks everyone she meets in the eye, says socially appropriate words, and smiles.  She also spent her leisure time gardening, sewing, knitting, playing bridge …  all hobbies in which I have no interest and for which I have no talent.  Gardening, in particular, has always filled me with a unique dread.  As much as I love the idea of growing flowers or tomatoes of my own, watering them with care and enjoying their fruits, I’ve never even been able to keep a houseplant alive.  I’ve bought and killed an acre’s worth of plants over the years.  As the granddaughter of a gifted gardener whose knowledge of flowers and plants could fill volumes, I find my brown thumb particularly discouraging.

I may not have a plot of land to till, but I can buy a plant for my dim apartment kitchen.  I can read its care instructions and try not to kill it.  I can even question my grandmother, see if that encyclopedic garden knowledge remains even while her recognition of my face fails…  that I’m curious to learn.  I can start small and see what grows.

What about you?  What will you do today that you think you cannot do?  Whatever it is, I wish for you a patch of sunlight, a little water, and the encouragement to think small.  Thanks, as always, for showing up.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. ashton permalink
    August 8, 2011 10:56 am

    you never cease to amaze me. thank YOU for showing up and reminding me to think small…some days recently have felt quite overwhelming and i think if i would just remember to think small, i would feel a bit better 🙂 thanks my friend! xoxo ps can’t wait to catch up and hear more!

  2. August 8, 2011 1:17 pm

    Just beautiful. I was actually tearing up at some parts. Thank you – with so many things launching here, it really fit with where I was today too!!!


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