I mentioned how I’ve been cleaning out my house and my life in preparation for our move. But I’m torn about something in my house. Something that probably wouldn’t move successfully. Something I really don’t want to move. But something I can’t just let go.
It’s a cactus.
I’m about to reveal something really weird about myself. But that’s kind of what this whole blog is about so I don’t think it will scare you away. I create these weird connections to certain objects in my life. Usually plants.
It’s a very bad connection for me to have because I have a thumb and it’s not green. It’s whatever color is directly opposite it on the color wheel. I don’t kill things, per se. I just don’t do a very good job of taking care of them.
When I was in college, I won the lead in the Spring semester play during my senior year. It was exciting, thrilling, and a dream come true. And thankfully, no singing was required. It was a period piece set during the 30s and I got to fully embrace the fashion and style of a decade I love so much.
I remember, on opening night, all the well wishes and cards and flowers from all of the theater crowd that I admired so much. I especially remember the small plant that one of the most terrific actresses in the theater department gave me.
She also gave me a nice card with words of encouragement. Words I can’t remember now but from that night on, I vowed that as long as that plant stayed alive, I still had a chance at an acting career. That was 1992.
That plant struggled to live for years and year. It would get to the brink of death for lack of water and I would bring it back. It looked awful. But I couldn’t let it go.
One day, I just decided it was time. The plant was ugly by then and it didn’t real have anything to do with my dreams, right? So I threw it away. But I think then, I knew I was accepting that my dream of being an actress was over. I wasn’t sad. I just realized that my dreams had been replaced by different ones.
And now I’m stuck with a 5 foot cactus. The cactus of my life. When I got the cactus, it was two little nubs sticking out of a small pot. I bought it somewhere. Maybe at a grocery store. I don’t remember when but I’m pretty sure the cactus predates my husband and we’ve been together for 11 years.
Cacti seem to be the only thing I can keep alive. You can literally go months without watering it. I mean, you’re not supposed to but if you do, they will still live. I look at this ridiculously tall plant with ridiculously shallow roots and wonder how it can still be standing upright. How it can still be alive.
Tracing up the cactus, you can see how it’s growth reflected the attention I paid it over the ears. Some sections are brown and almost woody. Clearly a time of neglect. A period of stunted growth. They’re tough but skinny.
Other sections are bright green and rounded, with lots of offshoots. This was a time of the happy cactus. A time when I probably changed the soil and gave fertilizer and water regularly.
This cactus is like a time capsule of my life. It reflects me. So now what do I do? It’s kind of ugly. And how do you move a 5 foot cactus? But how do I throw away a plant that has endured so much?
So I am a little crazy. And it’s okay if you tell me that. But while you’re at it, can you tell me what you would do with the cactus?