When I make tea in the morning I look out the back window at the garden. This time of year, mid winter, when nothing grows, it is just a tangle of forgotten stems and rotten tomatoes turned grey. I think about whether or not it will make sense to plant another garden this year. And if I go, how many watermelons we will never eat.
We once had a garden at the house on the street that ended. Rosemary is for honesty. I have muscle memories of turning that soil with you. How hard we worked to dig it up, the layers of many gardens and the years of someone else’s life. You said, We’re just like pirates. There were treasures everywhere. And I sat in the clay filled dirt and sifted through everything that woman had buried over or left behind. She never bothered to clear out last years forgotten stems or unpicked carrots. She only laid new soil on top, and started over.
We found plastic flowers, and pieces of a ceramic frog. Dinosaur like succulents that took all your strength to dig up. Thick muscles, tan and rolling hills across your back that rose with every throw of the shovel. We both got sunburns across our shoulders and we were sore for days, and drank cold beer when we took breaks. There must have been beer. Or maybe there wasn’t. Maybe you weren’t drinking then and that’s why we were doing something like planting a garden.
The people who lived there before us hung around in the walls and on the back patio, it’s strange low overhang that we could never properly decorate. When I found the house their things were still inside, an estate sale, and maybe that’s why for me I always saw them still. I knew what it felt like before we got there and I couldn’t shake it. How an entire life time had been had in those walls, in those mirrors, in that yard.
Most of this, especially the digging up of the garden, happened before I decided to leave. It happened when leaving was some far away idea or a dream I had at twelve. It happened when we knew where to eat breakfast and what time the sun set, and how high the surf was when you got off work at dawn. It happened in the space in which we least expected something to happen to us.
And now it’s been years. I saved the ceramic frog. I cleaned it off under the cold water of the hose, ran my finger tips into the grooves and it’s mouth filled with dirt and spider eggs. And while I am making tea this morning I am wondering what happens to the parts of us we cover up over, and start new with. Are they waiting down there to be dug up, and dusted off on some hot afternoon? What happens to the fake flowers and the things that don’t get said? We were so proud when the tomatoes came in. Like we were going to be okay just because of that alone.