Watering from the bottom
how to not kill your plants and pinpointing where it hurts
A few years ago I met my best friend. At least, I think she is. The concept of best friends past 30 seems weird. Maybe only because there’s so much fear around needing someone so much.
I met her through an ex of all things. She hosted poetry readings online during the pandemic, which we both attended, and I thought she was the coolest, most witchy person I had ever met.
Like most important things, we started off tentatively. Running into each other at parks, requesting and canceling hangouts, etc. Eventually, we found our stride.
I’m always eager for that first cry in front of a new friend. Maybe that’s my attraction to trauma bonding, but there is nothing like getting close enough to let your walls come down. We drank lots of wine around my table and cooked each other meals. We played games with her son in her living room. We have held hands in the back of Ubers and I felt a childhood wound heal: the want for platonic intimacy with my female friends. I think I was always afraid of appearing too gay. Now, I want everyone to know how I love.
Yesterday, I looked at one of my cacti. It was wrinkled like fingers too long in the bath. These plats are mostly water, so seeing it in this state told me that water had all but dried up. It was now or never.
I sat the entire nursery pot in a bowl of water, letting it soak its way upwards instead of pouring water from the top. This makes the soil completely saturated. When a plant is very dry, watering from the top doesn’t work well because the dry soil just lets the water run straight out from the bottom. Submerging it is like watering it backward.
If that makes sense.
This morning, it was puffed out and happy. It had survived. I won’t need to water it again for a long time. It’s kind of like recreating desert conditions: providing rain after a drought.
“Have you found time to cry yet? Have you grieved enough?”
My friend doesn’t shy away from big feelings. She knows and she knows and she knows.
I tell her that I walk so that I can cry. That moving my body is the way that I can quiet my mind enough to let emotions come to the surface. It also keeps people away from me when I walk at night. No one wants to talk to an actively crying stranger.
We are animals in that way.
I tell her about my playlist. About the letters. About the sweatshirt. About how good my cheek feels on the floor. About my therapist asking over and over again, “But what about what Rainn wants?”
I can’t tell my therapist that I wish Moon girl and I were childhood best friends. I can’t tell her that I wish we had never happened at the same time I wish that we were tangled up in each other. I can’t tell her that monogamy sounds appealing if it’s with her, but I don’t know what it is like to be with her in a way where neither of us feels afraid. I can’t tell her it was too soon because it was already too late. That my love looks like freedom, and that includes freedom from me and my constant need for affirmation. That I’m worried if we did it all again and we end up worse than ever? Or that maybe there aren’t things like, “getting over,” it just shrinks over time into a pinprick
I am cat sitting. When I open the door, the same one always greets me and the other one always hides. I feed them, scoop the litter, and then stop to pet them. The friendlier one melts into my pets, smooshing its cute face into any corner of my palm it can find.
The other one lays traps. It meows louder and flops solidly onto its back. I pet her head, avoiding her belly. I fell for her trap once but I was too quick to be scratched.
I love how simple this ritual is. That their wants are so simple. Their hurt/need for comfort is easily met.
I want to soak my feet in friendship. I want to feel this warmth, this connection flow to the top of my head until I too am blooming.
My friend has started a Black brunch group chat and I told her:
“This is one of the parts of me I was trying to heal. My connection to my Blackness.”
It feels like all the parts of me were turned inside out until I became who I truly am. Everything I have wanted is coming to me slowly. It’s like the universe is saying, “just let it all flow up from the bottom girl, damn.”
I want us to bloom. I want us to grow.
I refuse to let this thing rot. I’ll keep watering it with my tears for as long as it takes me to accept that plants grow the way they want. That grasping at it and bruising the leaves in the process is just going to slow things down.
“Heartbreak is so all-encompassing. We’ll catch up and leak our hearts out.”
She is my best friend because she makes as much room for my heartache as she does my joy. She’s my best friend because neither of us will let the other feel alone in our weaknesses or in our triumphs.