I went to my garden today, which is in a community-garden, where the majority of my “dirt-neighbors” are from old countries- Russia, China, Vietnam. The sky was gray, and the autumn leaves had lost their primary color and were no longer brilliant, just sad. A patient today who suffers from depression told me that “in the winter, depression is better, because i know everyone else too is also suffering.” In the garden, it may have been this way too. Mandated to clear all structure, fencing and other manmade influence from the garden before the annual tilling, we were all there to strip to the bones all of our humanly efforts. The place that brought me the most peace would now only live on in my heart. And on Instagram. Until next spring.
I located my closest garden-plot neighbor, a 68 year old fine Russian man, who was skillfully uprooting parsley from another neighbor’s plot. Crouching down next to him, I told him about my latest adventures in love. He has told me about his lapsing and remitting adventures in sobriety, and his interest in museum and ballet, and of his former mistress dying before he had a chance to say goodbye on the phone in Russia. He tells me that he is not my very good friend and does not know me so well, but he knows me very well and is one of my best friends. I do not know his last name.
He tells me that I am no longer 18. That I have to be very careful, so careful. That I have a very big weapon against men, my beauty, and that all men, therefore, will be attracted to me.
I blush obligingly, but nod for him to continue.
The gardening is where I harvest all of my fatherly advice. It is the place where I feel the most fathered in the entire world.
He tells me that passion will fade, and I need to find someone with an extremely high intellect. He tells me I am an unusual woman, and that to get one touch of me takes some years off a man’s life.
He says that in Russia, for a man and woman to truly know each other, together they must eat 40 lbs of salt. That is a lot of time.
He tells me to be careful, very careful. I tell him many great things about the current love interest. He tells me to be careful.
He also tells me to find someone who is slightly more intelligent than I am, someone that I respect for their opinion and to always express great interest in their opinion. For after beauty and passion fade, this is what men will desire.
He said all this to me, while digging out arugula and leeks, snipping off the roots and putting them in a bag for me, while we squat conspiratorially in the garden.
We hug goodbye, and he kisses my hand. I can’t believe he is 68. He tells me, if he were 30 years younger, even he would be asking me to “spend time with him”. I tell him that in a parallel universe we certainly would. This is the letting go of a relationship in a proper way. We are burying our roots and covering them with much straw, and in the spring, we will be young again and continue these conversations.