these weeds have grown
a patio, a shattered table, and some weeds propel me forward
I am trying to get my yard together. I have a whole patio area made of brick and that brick has grown moss and weeds around the furniture. Two of my wooden planters collapsed, the woodens stands where we used to put plants is now wobbly and rotted.
I didn’t sit outside at all last year. I didn’t plant a flower or pull a weed or arrange the chairs. I was fresh off the breakup of my marriage. I was too sad, too depressed to care about anything of that nature. I spent the summer indoors, on the couch, not caring about the patio area or my cute little breezeway.
The yard was his domain. He has a green thumb and loves to do all that hard work in the hot sun. He made the Home Depot run for the flowers and mulch and soil every year. He dug, he planted, he watered, he tended. He took care to make sure the furniture stayed clean and detritus free. He cleaned the grill and did the outdoor cooking and made sure our summer meals were pleasant.
I wanted none of that last year. I was consumed with a grief that gripped my entire body and soul and the thought of doing his work, in what was his domain, was too much for me. Instead I wrapped myself up in blankets with the air conditioner blasting, ignoring the weeds that were growing, the flowers that were begging to be replanted, the pollen and dirt accumulating on everything. Every time I thought about going to Home Depot to pick up some plants I would start sobbing, remembering how we worked together to make the yard and patio area truly beautiful, a welcoming place.
The guilt I felt from not doing anything was immense, but I was overwhelmed by the thought of taking over for him, as if that would seal the deal that he was gone for good. I could pretend. I could think he was coming back. I could have fantasies of us getting back together, pretending the whole breakup didn’t happen. But if I started to replace him with myself, if I started to do his chores and his upkeep and his routines, those dreams would die, and with them, another piece of my heart.
The summer dragged on and every time I came into the house from work, I would see the disarray of the patio, the shambles of the yard. It would all just serve to make me retreat further into myself, my heartbreak now mingling with guilt.
Fall came and I thought about putting the furniture back in the garage, I thought about covering the table and chairs, all the things he did each October, but I didn’t. I didn’t budge. I didn’t do anything that was his job, his craft. I promised myself I’d do better next year. I’d get better, I’d get over this, I’d heal and move on and be able to do these things again. But I knew I was just talking bullshit to myself. I knew I was lying, that there was no part of me that was motivated to ever make the yard look like his yard again.
Fall turned to winter turned to spring and I gave some thought to the yard and what I was going to do with it. I thought about emptying it of all the furniture and flower pots and stands, just leaving it empty, maybe one chair so I could sit out there while the dog sunned herself. I still didn’t want any part of taking over his work. And then I walked out there one April morning and saw this.
A hail storm during the night absolutely shattered the glass table. Now I had to clean that up, and I had to get rid of the remains of the table. But something happened inside me when I saw all that broken glass. Something snapped. I saw it as a sign. It was really, truly over. The table he bought, that he spent hours putting together, was going out in the garbage. The centerpiece of our outdoor furniture was no more. As I swept up the glass (what a pain in the ass that was), I swept up my emotions. I knew what I had to do. I had to reclaim that place. I had to start new. Getting rid of the now useless table would be the kick in the ass I needed to break out of my doldrums, to spearhead a patio improvement project that did not include him. Every pile of glass I put into that industrial strength garbage bag was part of a formal farewell to him, and to the idea of the yard being his.
I bought a new set of furniture. No glass table this time, just a couch, a loveseat, a small coffee table and a firepit. I’d make a conversation area rather than an eating area, somewhere I could sit outside with my kids and the dog, where we would have a beer and trade Simpsons quotes and laugh well into the night. I’d make it mine. I’d make it ours. I’d make it anything but his.
Today I went out and started weeding. I thought about what he would say if he saw the bricks like that, blighted with moss and weeds and small colonies of ants, a mini jungle growing in the place he worked so hard to keep up. And I realized something. I don’t care. I no longer care what he would think of the yard. I don’t care that it was his pet project. It’s not anymore, and that’s something I have to learn to live with. Each weed that went into garbage pail was another step in reclaiming this area for myself. I wasn’t weeding for him, I wasn’t doing it because I felt guilty about all the work he put into keeping it weed free. I was doing it because I needed to make it nice for me, because I am what matters now. The weeds all marked a passage of time for me. How much they’ve grown and multiplied while I was sitting on the couch feeling sorry for myself was telling.
I’m going to buy some flowers, a new planter stand - one that wasn’t built by him that would just spawn memories. I’m going to arrange the furniture to my liking. I’m going to sit out there with my dog and enjoy the sun. In my yard, on my patio, with my little family.
Every day is a struggle on this journey, but every day is also another day toward healing, toward feeling whole again. If something like some weeds and shattered glass can push me forward, I’ll take it.
[please enjoy this song about weeds]