Today I got to thinking about gardening again. When I was small I tended a flower garden as some of you may remember. I had planted a cardinal climber vine that I’d grown from seeds, and everyday I visited that vine, its tendrils draped over the fence corner, a red and green cape ablaze with blood red trumpet blooms. Then the day came that I padded out into the sun to find my Cardinal Climber wilting, its vibrant hues all meeting in dry, brown unison. What was yesterday lush and full was today pallid and clinging to life. Within a few days the vine was gone, retreated back to the ground where it began. A few desiccated branches and tendrils remained, but they only served as sad reminders of a death.
Soon they too fell away, Mother Nature being such a gradual yet thorough house keeper. Later, my parents allayed my sadness, explaining that some plants are perennials; they live a long life, we have them for years. But some plants are annuals. Annuals are only with us for a breath of time. They grow quickly, overtake everything around them, explode in a multi-chromatic kaleidoscope of beauty and color. Then one day, as quickly as they came, they’re gone.
Relationships are this way. They are intricate dances, success can’t be predicted or learned, and oftentimes it is by pure luck and serendipity that we keep them alive at all. Some are like my Cardinal Climber, flourishing with light, with life, then one day they wither and die, only memories and a few tattered shreds hanging from the chain link to suggest they were ever there at all.
We are all gatherers. Each soul we fall in love with teaches us. About ourselves. About others. About the world around us. They teach us to see what we were blind to. They teach us what we want in a person. What we do not. They embolden us to try new flavors, develop a skill we never knew we could have, chase the things we never knew we wanted. They play for us new music. They teach us to love new songs. They break us down. They build us back up. Vines and love affairs don’t end. We take a little piece of each other to decorate the walls of our souls, and in return, we leave behind a little piece of ourselves when we go.