Monday, May 17, 2010

What Women Really Want... At Least This One

Last Christmas, my husband asked me what I wanted. I did not even have to think.

“An umbrella,” I said.

“No, really. What do you really want?” he pressed.

“An umbrella. Mine just broke. I would also like long sleeve pajamas and a pair of slippers.” He thought this was really funny, but I am a practical person. I find receiving extravagant gifts to be somewhat embarrassing. I really prefer what I really need, and only on occasion might think of something I actually want for the sake of wanting. This year, for my birthday, I identified a want.

“I would like a houseplant for my birthday, please.”

I realize a lot of women ask for jewelry. But for me, the houseplant represents something greater.

“Any particular kind of plant?” asked my husband. I told him, no, that he would see the right thing and know. I suggested maybe something that bloomed once in a while—it would give me something to anticipate. Something that grows, something that represents life. Nothing comforts a room like a thriving potted plant.

For the last year, I have had no houseplants. The ones I moved here last year from out of state became infested with flies and we had to put them outside where they did not survive. After that, we traveled so frequently for my children’s visits with their father, that I wanted one less thing to worry about when we were gone. We still have travel, but there is a greater degree of predictability to it. I can plan now. I can put roots down. I wanted that to be reflected in something else with roots.

On my birthday morning, my son announced he wanted to give me a tree. I followed him downstairs. There, before the piano, stretching tall in an angled loom of light, was a glorious and gracious large pot of ivy on a trellis. My children had helped choose the plant and were excitedly dancing around it. It is as tall as my daughter. The ivy reminds me of the vines that crawled on brick walls in New Orleans. It is as hardy and sustaining as we are. The gift is generous, thoughtful, and beautiful. I felt peace wash over me as I fingered the leaves.

Peace, security, and a sense of home—just what I really wanted.

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