Flowers In The Window

I can almost see it in the half-light of the crescent moon: my garden.

It’s not much, really: some ivy, a spider plant, some marigolds. But I planted them myself. I buried my hands in the cool, wet soil. I watered them. And I will watch them grow.

Saturday began way too early. My alarm went of at 5:45. Chris, Jen and Ethan pulled up to my doorstep at 6:30. I climbed into the truck next Ethan. He was drinking a bottle, left hand clutching his red bangs, and pushed me away when I went to kiss him. Jen said, “He’s not a morning person.” To which Chris added, “Like his uncle.”

The Queens Half Marathon began at 8:00. I ran into colleagues and friends along the 13.1-mile route through College Park, and spent my time (2:01:49, if you must know) chatting with them. Wex, Alyssa, her dad and I all finished together. Chris and Jen followed shortly thereafter.

Now, one would think that, of all people, Chris would know whether or not I was a morning person on account of our having shared bedrooms on and off for twenty-six years. But I am, in fact, a morning person. Just not with other people.

Take Sunday morning. I’d only slept four hours since getting in from my really cool, really fun, really rockin’ performance at Rockwood Music Hall. Dan, Tony and I may have looked like a jazz trio, but we sounded like a rock band. Songs like “Dear Elizabeth” and “Shiver” found new voices in the new instrumentation. And our cover of Ben Folds’ “Evaporated,” while imperfect (my bad with a few lyrics), was meaningful. After I calmed down (adrenaline, endorphins, all that), I had the rare treat of watching Casey Shea and Jeff Jacobson perform. Casey’s voice is pristine. Jeff guitar work is just right: supportive, tasteful. It was a great night (which culminated with a late-night bowl of ice cream).

Anyway, so I wake up from all that. It’s only 7:30. I can still taste the beer on my breath. I want to sleep some more. I want to sleep in. I want to dream straight through to the afternoon. But I can’t. I’m up.

When I was a kid, I used to wake up early on Saturdays to clean my room. No one would bother me, even my brother. I’d make my bed, put my books on the shelf, line up my stuffed animals. Maybe I was singing along with my Fischer-Price record player, maybe not. I didn’t need distraction, or accompaniment, I just needed those few moments to put my world in just a little bit of order.

Like Sunday Morning. I climbed out of bed, stretched a bit, set an iTunes Playlist (Rufus Wainright, Finlay Quaye, Nick Drake, etc), and started sorting laundry. In between loads of sheets, towels, and three weeks of t-shirts, underwear and jeans, I had a Grande Mild, blueberry scone, egg sandwich, and Gatorade. Then I set out for the flea market where, after much deliberation on which plants I was least likely to kill, I purchased two armloads worth of flats (I learned that’s what gardeners call those little plastic pots). Back home on the roof, Sunday shining, I pulled on my straw hat, and got my hands dirty.

People like to garden. They like their rows of flowers, fruits and vegetables. I never really got it. Until this morning. The earth smelled beautiful. Like spring. And when I was done, the whole thing was mine. I had started something new. I had invested in the outcome of something beyond my control. It was up to nature now. With an assist from nurture.

The Sunday Songwriters appreciated my little garden in the sky. I invited a number of performing singer/songwriters to my place for some sort of “book club without books.” Musicians tend to be competitive, or aloof, with one another. I thought it would be nice to leave our guitars at home, check our egos at the door, grab a beer, and build some kind of community. Amy Hills, Elisa Korenne, Casey Shea, Elisa Peimer, and Jeff Jacobson, and I, then, are the inaugural members of this hopefully burgeoning circle of friends. The sun set over the river, we ordered another round, and settled into one another. As darkness fell, we had formed a small circle of chairs, and had gravitated to a musical conversation. We talked about our motivations, ambitions, anxieties, influences, inspiration, successes and struggles. Were it not approaching midnight, and were it not a school night, I’m sure we’d still be talking now.

I am tired. My hands are dirty. My back is sore. But something is growing here. I can almost see it.

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