My garden grounds me. There. I said it. A truth that was obvious, it seems, to everybody but me. Last year we sold our family home with its ever-blooming garden to move to a high rise building with little open space. I took my fig tree and basil plant, but the daffodils, lilacs and peonies stayed behind. I thought weekend jaunts to the country would satisfy my gardening itch but I was left disappointed and, quite frankly, beside myself.
I wasn’t me in this new setting. I wasn’t me without a garden to till and fresh air to breathe. I wasn’t me without a five mile walk and my neighbor to walk with. I was some other lady in a far away city who wanted to like it… when doormen smiled, grocers delivered and restaurateurs waved me in off the street. Instead I became increasingly cranky when horns beeped and sirens wailed.
I felt like a freshman who chose the wrong college or a long distance runner who chose the wrong shoes. I went so far out of my comfort zone that I couldn’t imagine finding my way back. I didn’t like that zone! It should have been labeled with yellow caution tape and a black diamond sign reading, “Impossibly Uncomfortable Zone.” I finally understood what it meant to I feel like a stranger in my own life and a visitor in my own home.
I tried for a year to look on the bright side and see my new digs as an adventure. I spun the allure of city living so many ways that for a while I got lost in my own rose-colored web. When I couldn’t get comfortable being uncomfortable I took an honest look at what nurtures me. At the top of my list just below family and friends was a plush garden and summer breeze. I learned that pushing ourselves to learn and grow is different than abandoning ourselves and what we know.
I might have lost a year in my garden but I gained immeasurable perspective. A week before we bought another house, I came across a vintage garden ornament. This wooden girl held a watering can with a pick beneath her shoes to anchor her and, I realized, me. Now when I round the corner she’s the first thing I see. My garden girl welcomes me and brings me back to this one true thing: We should secure our roots before we spread our wings.