Or root. Whatever works.
No matter what, Russell and I will not be in our apartment next year on this date. Even if I don’t get a job, even if I do get a job, even if we decided to stay in Cincinnati just one more year, we will no longer live in this apartment, at this address, in these rooms. We understand that this change is minor and not at all life-threatening. We don’t care. We’re still sad.
I do the dishes in our relationship. For the most part. Russell is a fabulous cook, and I appreciate the thinking time that doing dishes affords. The view’s not bad either…
And beyond my little “greenhouse” I can see the leaves of the beautiful ash outside my window as well as a giant oak tree in the next yard. It’s lovely and contemplative and green.
Tonight as I was scrubbing a pan I was thinking about a class I’m teaching this semester. I’ve assigned a journal component, not just because I’m mean, but because I really do believe that writers, and teachers of writing, should reflect on writing and teaching writing. It makes for good practice and it is good practice.
I’ve assigned this book for its journaling prompts. I like it and I don’t—but that’s a topic for another day. What I want to address right now is the author’s first chapter, the chapter I assigned to my students for their first journal prompt.
(I should point out right now that I’ve made the same
egregious error decision to write all assignments with my students.)
So the author tells us, in her very first sentence, “Home is a blueprint of memory.” Later, she insists that “Finding home is crucial to the act of writing. Begin here. With what you know.”
Earlier, over dinner, I say to Russell: “Today is our last August 30th in this apartment.”
There is a pause before he replies, “Yeah. We’ve had our last whole August in this apartment.”
We sit there for a minute, letting the reality of this statement sink in. My first thoughts are remorseful: where did August go? did I appreciate our time here enough? was I even paying attention? no, I wasn’t. oh my god, what did I do last week? yesterday??? too fast….
After some nostalgia, we make a pact. I’ll write every day for the rest of the time we’re here; Russell will take photos of all of the idiosyncratic things about this place we adore. We agree that offering each other suggestions is okay. I make a list for Russell…
I know we’ve only lived here for four years, but it’s “home.” But only for another 11 months.
I’m thinking this thought and more as I finish the dishes. But I’m also looking at the many plant cuttings and baby plants in my mini “greenhouse.” Several thoughts occur to me at once, not the least insightful of which is the lesson these plants can teach me. Not two days ago I trimmed a jade—chopped it, really—in order to help it grow. I took the pile of stalks, tidied them up, and placed them in some water to root.
When I went back to the plant, I noticed my other jades, one of which I had trimmed last week. I remember that it was a small plant, from a trimming, not six months ago. And it had undergone it’s first trimming this summer.
There’s no such thing as “home,” Georgia. And you say as much later, after I’ve already worried over my “blueprint” and its now-constant state of fade. I think I’ll stick to my jades and roots, which remind me every day that there’s a system, a process to keep in mind. Root, plant, water, ignore, tend, enjoy, trim, root, plant, water…
Reminds me of notice, think, read, daydream, draft, savor, revise, notice, think, read, draft…