I am in the throes of travel prep in a big way. I have alerted my bank that I am traveling, bought international data plans for a month, packed half a suitcase, bought too many new clothes at REI (all of which promise to keep me dry, cool, fashionable, and able to walk to at least a dozen chateaus without doing laundry in between) bought power converters, loaded my iPad with podcasts, realized I’ve lost my iPod, requiring me to borrow Kevin’s and load THAT with podcasts, fretted, sweated, bought an SeV travel hoodie that has more pockets than Inspector Gadget, so that I can lose my passport in new and exciting ways, and generally convinced myself that my pocket will be picked as I am coming off the plane and then my luggage will explode.
In addition, my mother is flying here first, marking the first time in over a decade that my Mom has actually seen where I live, and thus I am trying to wrangle a late summer garden into something that does not look like a cross between an abandoned homestead and a kindergarten class growing seeds in a paper cup. I know that this is futile. You cannot fix a garden in a week, not in this season, and there’s no real point in trying. Still, being at the end of a wooded drive means that my garden never has to stand up to scrutiny by anybody other than me and the deer and the UPS guy*—having another Real Gardener here makes me long to make it look, y’know, GOOD, not a weed-blown disaster area.
Naturally this is the year that the one section of the garden that has been effortless and no-maintenance for the last three years went to hell in a handbasket. Everything got rained down, the bee balm died of powdery mildew by mid-August and the perennial sunflowers are laying on the Black-Eyed Susans and the Salvia greggi. Deer ate the wild quinine. Under normal circumstances, they’ll eat the house and resort to cannibalism before they touch wild quinine. That’s why I plant it. There is no salvaging the sunflowers, which are going to get torn out and replaced with a ninebark shrub when I return, but it just goes to show that the minute you decide a section is done and can take care of itself, it will fall over, burst into flames and sink into the dark tarn.
Also, there’s the house. The house is in pretty good shape, or will be once I sweep and get the border collie hair off the stairs (where it will resettle ten minutes later.) And my mother doesn’t care at all and will just be impressed that I am still alive. Still, I think there is this inherent need to prove to your parents that you have moved beyond What Your Room Looked Like In Fifth Grade/College/That Stretch In Your Early Twenties. The last time she saw my apartment, there were posters of Bob Marley and marijuana leaves on the walls. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. If you can listen to No Woman No Cry without getting a little misty-eyed, I don’t want to hear about it. But my decor tastes have moved on.)
We leave Saturday. I already miss Kevin. Without his ability to make friends with absolutely anyone, regardless of language barrier, we will be reduced to looking slightly lost and harmless, which actually works pretty well, but is a helluva thing to have to fall back on.
It will be fine. I will be fine. We will eat exotic cheeses and visit the tomb of Richard the Lionheart and see a giant mechanical squid. It’ll be awesome. I hope.
*And you guys, but carefully cropped photography will fix any number of ills.