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This Word Is Grow

by Harmony Button

I got my first sunburn of the season while I was outside, in the back yard, tying sticks together with little pieces of twine to make an archway into the garden. It’s a yearly ritual based around the unruly growth of a neighbor’s tree, which is one of those reasonably attractive arboreal weeds that grows Hydra-like knots on the side of its trunk – there’s a big wad of living wood that continually shoots out pups and sprouts that I hack off, only to see two more branches spring up in the place of one. If I don’t stay vigilant, I look up one day to find the entire entrance to my garage has been blocked by awkwardly low-growing foliage. So I get out there with the clippers and snip off all the new limbs that spawned in the spring, leaving just enough coverage over the chain link fence to allow the boyfriend to wander around the back yard in his Jedi bathrobe, as he is wont to do, without being in the neighbor’s line of sight.

The last year’s kale is also plotting world domination, reaching never-before-seen heights of six or seven feet. It turned the herb garden into an edible hedgerow with tiny yellow flowers so thick that Jason occasionally removes the Jedi bathrobe behind the cover of dense foliage in order to enjoy a brisk outdoor shower from the spray head of the garden hose. There are certain things in life that bring us an overwhelming sense of wellbeing: my pathway to tranquility is to feel myself swing, weightless, in a sun-dappled hammock; Jason’s is through peaceful moments of outdoor nudity. Luckily, the back yard can satisfy both of these pursuits.

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I’ve not always had the best of judgement when it comes to falling in love. Most of the time, they just were good, kind people who just weren’t that into me, and I was too young and dumb to see their polite disinterest as a sign of anything but a wonderfully slow beginning to what might be an incredibly romantic story. It shouldn’t be any surprise to me, then, that I started out my relationship with Jason in a similar way: love was something happened to me, that I found myself inside of, rather than something that I knew how to cultivate, to grow. I was the weed; he was the water. And I’m not sure Jason was much better, to be honest – he seemed like he was, all talking about what he was looking for, what he was working on personally, what he wanted from life, what he wanted from love. But from the safe and loving distance of ten years, I call bull shit on all that. He was as much of an ignorant, juvenile mess as I was. Continue reading