Viet promised me a surprise on 7 May, but there was a catch: I needed to bring with me $100 in cash. Any reasonable person would think this suspicious, but as I do not pretend to be reasonable, I trekked to the ATM after my hair appointment and withdrew my cash. (Note to friends: this trick may not work in the future, so please don’t try it on me.) Being familiar with Viet’s tortured relationship with cardinal directions, I asked if he knew how to get to this undisclosed location (hoping Cheney would not be there…sorry, I couldn’t resist!), and he gleefully announced that he checked Mapquest. We were on our way.
At first I thought he was deliberately trying to disguise the destination by veering down odd side streets, but then it became clear: he was lost. He asked if I knew Rockford Park, and I blurted, “We’re going to the Rockford Park Plant Sale?!”
He tried to deny it of course, but then we had to ask construction workers for directions. Once we arrived, we left the car. He insisted that this was not the plant sale but a Mother’s Day carnival. I was skeptical, but as we ascended the hill (the only one in Delaware?), a Ferris Wheel gradually came into view. An inverse relationship developed: for every increase in elevation, my mood descended into disappointment. To disguise this, I simply reminded him that I had a thesis defense to conduct in 3 hours (which was true).
We crested the hill and I surveyed the landscape: amusement park rides, food booths, tents… and, huh? Plants? One tent for “donor plants,” another for “perennials,” one for herbs, another for vegetables, one for annuals and one for houseplants… The effect, especially after a bout of disappointment, cannot be described: here I was at Wilmington’s celebrated annual ROCKFORD PARK PLANT SALE with $115 in my pocket. This was my orgiastic moment, my immediate future!
I left with $2 in my pocket. Viet knows me well--hence his prescience to limit my available funds.
My purchases, you wonder?
Three Corsican mint plants; two patchouli plants; 2 lemon thyme; 1 lemon grass; 1 Gaura Whirling Butterfly; 1 Guacamole hosta; 1 Ligularia dentate (Britt-Marie Crawford); 1 Hellebore (an unusual, palm and lace leaf style white hellebore); 1 large Lady’s Mantle to replace the two Gramsci generously watered; and one red Japanese maple.
Owing to my insane work schedule of late, I’ve only gradually planted these sources of happiness. A few days ago, the lemon thyme plants found their way in the front garden, and the patchouli in a pot. But the Guacamole hosta remains pot-bound. I can’t figure out where to put it.
So now I experience Viet’s syndrome: being lost in space. If his strain manifests as being directionally challenged, then mine appears in the form of being situationally challenged. Space itself has eluded me. True, the beds are lush this year, but room remains. Somehow, though, Guacamole hosta doesn’t seem to “pop” anywhere I place it. It is a showcase plant—and deserves, like the deep red stemmed and purple-leafed Ligularia Britt-Marie Crawford, to be situated "just-so."
For now, though, "Guac's" residence in a plastic pot, root-bound, yearning to spread its roots and make nice with its new neighbors, testifies to my inabilities and is a consequence of my aesthetic desire for perfection. But, as Viet cleverly salvaged his surprise from the grips of his “affliction,” (aided no doubt by the presence of carnival rides), Guacamole hosta salvages me from, well, me. She reminds me that all things good are not necessarily all perfect. And we shouldn’t have it any other way.