Discover more from Sail Away With Me
On the friendships of women
It seems like every visit she gives me seeds. Tied up in cling wrap.
Now they’ve congregated, twisting into knots of plastic at the bottom of my purse, still dry and potential-filled. Potentulous. Potent.
Seeds do have a powerful way about them. Tiny and innocent, unmade. Vectors of huge amounts of energy. A zip file in the ground.
There are all sorts of ways a seed is sent. Sometimes in crap, sometimes in the wind, sometimes on a bee’s bottom.
Even on words, sometimes.
Seeds can be dropped, one by one, in careful precision: a row leading upward to the sky. Or, they can be scattered in a way that trusts something benevolent about the universe. The quantum spray of possibilities, as they say – but what the bleep do we know?
Well, there’s something I know about seeds and it’s that what is carried in a pocket and no bigger than your freckles can grow to be taller than you. By a bit, or by far.
These are what she gives me to go away with. Seeds, beginnings. Not even sparked to growth yet, a bit dry, but in a mute way, the future’s involvement already sealed hard inside.
I like to watch my hands make spring into summer.
It is sunny outside today with pure blue and green stuff everywhere. The kids are wicked together, running around like banshees, screaming behind my bent back. They know I’m not paying attention. They know I’m all blissed out with planting and basking in the day and even their running and hollering in and out of our old house.
I’d forgotten what it’s like to be surrounded by life, how it is when everything wakes up again. All the doing in me wakes up too.
Planting is a statement of intention, a little wishful prayer aimed like a dart up to heaven. Only, in this prayer the dart goes down into the earth. It sinks in and asks in a way that doesn’t give a lot of room to say no.
Things are coming up. They like to be kept damp and soft and protected in sun. A few things want to bloom already. Most of the climbers are just reaching half their potential. Soon the green will be dotted and splayed with all sorts of merriment in shape and colour.
Things will get ridiculously lush.
I love that moment when you realize, it’s lush: I made it lush.
She comes first with a jar of coffee and a basketful of bread, her little girls swirling around her knees like a pretty skirt. I’m lounging in the yard; I look up to see her figure carved into the sunshine, more of an etching than a shadow. Her back has a way of slouching that makes every movement smooth and submissive. She curves into my life. Offers me coffee, creamy and sweet, but my hands are gloved and filled with the roots of new weeds. I take off the gloves, tuck them into the back pocket of my jeans, wipe first my fingers then my mouth, tip the jar to my lips.
Our children are laughing together in the garden. They’ve taken off their rubber boots. Their toes dig into the mud. Ooooh, cold, they scream.
I plant what she gives me. I spritz the little green tendrils with warm water every morning and night. Heritage tomatoes, corn, Ethiopian lentils. Already I can feel summer on my tongue, the sweet acid burst of hot tomato juice sliding down my throat.
Nothing has even begun.
We’re in her kitchen, where the light pours grey over the windowsill. The children are outside letting popsicles drip down their wrists. We can see them from the window, little live rainbows melting all over the grass.
She’s doing dishes. Her hands have disappeared into a pillow of lemony suds. She’s crying. Tears slide down her nose and fling themselves kamikaze style into the dishwater. They don’t want to live anymore; they’ll die for the cause. Her husband is a good man, she asserts, stumbling over how much he sleeps, how he never cleans up, how he ignores her needs in bed.
I look at the blonde hairs rising on her neck and think, in bed.
Her back curves over the sink. She is like a question mark hovering over everything in life. I come up behind her, my arms encircling her waist. It’s asking to be encircled like that.
My husband is as perfect as hers. He makes so much money, cleans up, does fifty percent kid-duty. We play cards in the evenings. He wants nothing else, barely looks in my direction.
In front of the window, there are her seedlings. Whenever she talks about them, a cascade of happiness rushes from her eyes to her cheeks to her mouth. Her fingers brush the green shoots, anticipating what will come. She doesn’t think about how to nurture the seeds. Instead, she gives them in abundance exactly what they need. Water, light. Eyes soft, she reads from the lentil package: “Silvery green foliage in midsummer.” She says foliage as if her tongue wants to be french.
Marriage is marriage. The secret friendships of women are secret. We are in her bathroom, lights on, her body curving around mine. I place one leg between her thighs and push; she sighs. She looks at me full of a random sort of sweetness, as if she knew all along, as if she’s been waiting, as if it can’t be helped. I’m surprised by the taste of her mouth, how good and unbitter. One hand under her chin, the other interlaced with hers, thinking of my remote man, thinking of my one marriage and its wall of big stone bricks.
She’s yielding and beautiful and small, her shoulders bend the way I hold her. Blooms under my hands, irresistible.