Lesson in the Shape of a Lawn

My neighbors know it, so why shouldn’t you?

I can’t keep up with my lawn.  It is a source of complete and total shame.  The thought of my lawn has made me worse than a turtle in a shell, than an ostrich in the sand.  It, and this is honest, makes me want to disappear.  Not crawl in a hole and die exactly, but just not to exist.

I want to say that it has nothing to do with me not being a lawn person.   And, I’m not sure that it does.  I used to be a fairly good gardener.  Fairly good.  I know that in the year after my son was born, when a bout of postpartum “issues” set in, vegetable gardening was one of the only things that kept me going.  Still, in subsequent years, I failed at such ventures.  Why, how the dichotomy?

At that time, the vegetable gardening time, the lawn was not perfect but wasn’t vying to be part of the Amazon either.

I’ve noticed lately that I often talk in a lot of  “I used to be…” lingo.  I used to keep a great vegetable garden.  I used to keep a clean house.  I used to salsa dance several times a week.  I used to go backpacking alone.  I used to exercise all of the time and I used be thin.  I used to be funny.  I used to be vivacious. I used to be happy. I used to be myself.

But we evolve, right?  I am working on reclaiming the essential positives.  The exercise, the dancing, the funny, the happy.  I have to let go of what is not that important right now.  Pissing off the neighbors or no, lawn maintenance is trumped by other means of survival, other means of happiness.

And, I guess I can admit that I am not a landscaped lawn person.  I don’t think I ever will be.  And, lawn care obviously has not been on the top of my priority list as of late. There is a patch (a large patch) of waist high grass in my back yard.  I do not live in the deep woods and I am not a failure. I. am. not.

So, why this lawn confessional?

My lawn has been both a recent bane and a recent blessing.

I would like to preface the rest of this post by saying that I do not expect people to come to my rescue when I don’t act or could have done something for myself.  I absolutely do not.  Things just seemed to get out of hand AND people came to my rescue. The yard, due to a variety of reasons, has not been properly tended to in years.  Now, due to further circumstances, getting to the breadth and scope of my lawn has been difficult.  But, enough excuses.

Basically, things just seemed to get out of hand AND people came to my rescue.

Recently, I have been talking from time-to-time with an acquaintance about, among other cheerier topics, some of the more difficult states of my life—my separation, my lawn, the large creature that seemed to have made nest in my attic. (As far as I know, the creature, thank God, has vacated.  No air conditioning?  Too hot in the attic for you?)  I don’t feel like, at least with this particular person, I whine and moan and mope about the more thorny aspects of my world right now.  I feel like the facts have been fairly plainly stated and that is about that.

So, when the lawn came up and he offered to help, I made a move that was completely contradictory to my usual nature.  I accepted.  Normally, I would not only abhor and refuse imposition, but I wouldn’t want to embarrass myself with the actual state of things.  And here I was, telling a handsome gentleman, that I don’t know all that well, that he could come to my house and cut grass.  Unheard of! Absurd!  Unthinkable!

(Yes, those last lines were a shout out to Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.)

So, I accepted.

I didn’t actually think he would come.

He did.

Now, I have since thought that perhaps he didn’t stay for a beer after the manual labor because he was so put off by my lawn and my (ahhhhhhhhh!) basement and my falling apart house that he couldn’t even bear to talk to me.  But, honestly, I sort-of don’t even care. I’ll tell you why.

Of course, I don’t want to appall or frighten this kind, kind gentleman with my lack of ability or pride or my seeming helplessness, but the experience I had working alongside him might have been worth his (potential? Imagined?) subsequent lack of respect for me.

I can sum up the experience in one word: teamwork.

Aside from the many words I can think of (thoughtfulness, benevolence, selflessness) to describe his kindness (He worked in my yard for two straight hours!), teamwork is the perfect simple word to describe my feelings about the experience.

I have never been good at team sports.  In elementary school, I was picked last in gym class because during, say, a kickball game, I would get so nervous about humiliating myself and letting down the team that I wouldn’t just make a bad kick, I would completely miss the ball.  Yes, yes.  Charlie Brown.  All of this simply because I was self-conscious.  (Another pattern yet revealed!)

But, this time, I threw my embarrassment aside. And, while mowing and raking and sweating and bagging alongside his clipping and weedwhacking, I felt a sense of both gratitude and inner peace.  I did not feel ashamed.  The fact of the matter was my grass was high and I had let it go and it needed some serious, serious attention.  Okay.  And then what?

Still, and I don’t mean this in a romantic sense, a man, who is not a relative, busted his ass to help me out and I was open to it and believed it and accepted it and appreciated it.  And, we (again not intimate) sweat for the same purpose at the same time.  (Actually, I think I sweat more than he did, but who’s counting???)

Anyhow, it was so damned refreshing.  So damned foot-in-front-of-the-other-friggin-foot moving forward, that I felt, in some ways, the Earth shift.  It may seem like I’m exaggerating, but, really I’m not.  This act of philanthropy, among a series of other acts as of late, opened my eyes to possibilities that had seemed previously out of my reach.  I let go.  I accepted. This resulted in work, much needed work, getting done and in my realization that “two heads are better than one” actually has a belly to it.

I don’t know that my words here are doing my sentiments justice.  Perhaps there are no words for the sky parting just a bit.  Yeah, someone helped me slay a demon.  (And, the lawn is not even close to done.  Another munificent soul, who happens to own one of those bushwhacker type mowers, has offered to help.  Thank you, thank you, thank you my blessings!)  That’s a big, big deal.  And, perhaps, another one of those signs I’ve been talking about.  Either way, a huge shout out to teamwork and gratitude and to the man who seriously assisted me not only with my lawn but to realize that I am worthy of help and kindness.

Thank you from the very, very bottom of my being.

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