forgive this playground metaphor
I've been thinking about how to write into the complicated combined senses of accomplishment and defeat that I've been feeling, like a creaky old seesaw, every day.
I'm not talking about the kind of seesawing you did with your really nice, fair friend, which was honestly pretty boring; this is the kind where a preternaturally dairy-hormone-fed big kid sits heavy on the "accomplishment" end, holding you up for prolonged periods in "defeat" until you wonder how you'll ever get down and go get dinner. Whether you'll grow old there, or how you can jump off without breaking a bone, and you start to kick your legs and cry a bit and then s/he lets you back down into "accomplishment" and you sit as heavy and far back as possible for as long as you can, feeling the cool ground underneath you.
It's sudden summer in Upstate New York, with temps as high as the hottest parts of July, pools opening weeks early and milkshake revenues skyrocketing, and the delayed growth of everything has ceased its delay in a hurry.
Those first spring buds that slowly crept toward fullness, the long arms of warm wind cutting through, little sounds of birds and first weeds so perfect and edible - all of that waved like a checkered flag in front of the hot hot heat explosions of the last week. Before I knew it, all the tulips and narcissus were out the door and gone: to brides, mothers, art receptions, graduations, the juice shop, the yoga studio . . . I made more bouquets in the last 5 days than in any previous period of time, ever. And I felt proud of and excited about every single one. I set up systems and got flowers into the hands of lots and lots of people, and I broke my back a little and wore out my old lady knees, but the mess I made was less than normal and I got just enough sleep.
That's the "accomplishment" end. But making bouquets is not planting a garden; the two need to happen simultaneously. So when, on Sunday, the flowers were gone and done, I picked up a post hole digger and joined my dad in the garden on a fence-building mission. A DOOMED fence-building mission. With hundreds of dollars of fencing in the back of the truck, and limited time for this labor, and summer bearing down on us, we sweated and toiled and found that the garden I've dreamed of for years, the one that got written about in two newspapers and helped me win that Startup Grant and is supposed to be my bread and butter since I've halfway-quit my wonderful old job - um, that garden is a pile of bricks.
Like, the whole way down.
Like, an undiggable pile of bricks with four inches of soil on top.
This is the "defeat" end.
And it's hard not to get stuck there. So much work needs to be done, and now I have to back up and reimagine how it begins. A thousand seedlings in my living room want a place to go, and they don't want to go into that pile of bricks. But it's mine; it's ours, and I've gotta make it work.
So I'm gonna end this cliche-ridden diatribe with the idea that, if I've set up "accomplishment" as the bottom-end of this seesaw, it's inevitably where I'll end up, the theory of gravity seeming to prove true and all. Part of "defeat" is the impossibility of staying there; part of "accomplishment" is its groundedness. I tend to get stuck up there, but I am that hormone-addled big kid holding me down/up.
So if you're reading this and you're local, come join me/us as we jackhammer the crap out of this brick garden at 118 Jefferson Street in Troy on Thursday, May 14th, at 6:30 pm. I'm buying us ice cream. Let's build a fence and get on with this thing.