I look but sometimes can’t see.
Two weeks from today, NYC Swim hosts the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. My cousins are coming from Guatemala to participate. It’s very exciting: the woman who’s my age fought a tough battle with breast cancer a few years back and decided to get revenge on her body by becoming a triathlete. This is worth mentioning because so few of us get up off our deathbeds to run marathons, let alone take a dip in the East River, which has to be at least as toxic as chemotherapy. I don’t know how she’s finding the strength to do this swim but it’s made me examine seriously what I think is possible and of what I might be capable. I mean, seriously. This morning I took a container gardening class, which caused me a major attack of stage fright.
“Waaah!” I waaahed, “What if I’m stupid?” Pete burst out laughing.
“You’re not stupid. Your brain is clogged with smart.”
“What if someone asks me a simple question and I answer with things I learned before my brain short-circuited?”*
“Like times tables?”
“Just like the times tables!”
“If you studied in third grade you’ll actually be right.”
I was so frazzled I left the house without my usual IV drip of coffee, but it turned out I had nothing to worry about because my friends Siobhan and Mary, plus the Fabulous Ex-Husband’s current wife Karen all met me there, and the teacher was fully crazy. The class focused on aesthetics and decorative plants, which don’t interest me. As Siobhan said, “Turns out that unless I’m going to eat it I can’t demonstrate the commitment to watering.” After about 45 minutes of basics, the whole class got up to get squishy with dirt. I’d brought gloves and plant pots but developed a shocking case of ennui when it became apparent that only a person with an in-depth knowledge of what plants need what conditions could set up one of these planters, and I’m already growing mesclun mix in window boxes.
“I accidentally took a class on fertilizer once,” Siobhan said.
“For your minor in art history?”
“I forgot the K stood for potash, not potassium.”
“I’ve lost a lot of shirts to potash,” Mary lamented.
“Where did they go?” I asked innocently.
Karen was having a grand old time, but the rest of us thanked the teacher and went on ways merrier than we imagined. The trick to doing it is – apparently – just doing it. I’m back at square one, where I belong.
*Yep. To this day, I blame it on a tragic feather boa accident.