I killed our hydrangeas.
Yeah, you know those pretty bushes with the big beautiful collection of flowers? I love them. I needed them. I had two perfect little spots in my front garden where I was determined to plant them. So, my husband and I drove all over Indy, and we finally found them, paid way more than we planned to pay for them, planted them, and admired them fondly….
….For about a month.
Then I killed them.
There’s a million reasons that they might have died. The place I planted them got a lot of sun, and it was nearly impossible to keep the ground moist for them during this year’s hot summer. In addition, we probably should have done a little more research, bought better soil, dug a little deeper. Oops. Maybe they didn’t like their neighbors, the gaudy shrubbery that the previous homeowners planted to create some sort of curb appeal—they kind of seem to have a “this is our garden, stay out,” kind of attitude.
Or maybe, my poor hydrangeas never really rooted because my garden wasn’t quite the right fit for them.
I first heard the phrase “bloom where you are planted,” when I was in college, and admittedly, I loved it. I remember hearing it during chapel and writing it down in my notebook. I sat there, and I thought, “Yeah, that was my problem in high school. I didn’t bloom where I was planted, because I didn’t like where I was. Maybe if I rooted, gave it more of a chance, got more involved, I’d have liked it, been okay staying, even.”
I want to make this very clear- the part of the phrase that I don’t like isn’t the “bloom.” I think we can and should bloom anywhere that life puts us. I have a problem with “planted” and particularly the “you are” suggesting you didn’t plant yourself, you didn’t choose to be there.
I think we forget that plants don’t just bloom. They’re planted- I guess we got that far- then they grow their roots deeper into that soil, making themselves more stable in the ground, and that’s when they start to grow, start to bloom, once they’re rooted a bit.
I’ve lived in a few places in life where people expected me to start rooting myself, even when I knew that my time there was temporary. Even when the place and I didn’t fit together.
I’ve known pretty quickly when I’m somewhere I don’t plan to stay, so I’ve never really invested in a church or a community outreach in these temporary places, and I kind of caught hell for that. But there is a part of me that knows myself well enough to know that investing too much into these wrong places could have been unhealthy for me.
Investing too much into the wrong space would have possibly rooted me down, kept me there, unhappy, for years, maybe my whole life.
Some people attach to places and some people don’t. Some people are cats, and some are dogs.
My husband is a dog, a beautiful, loyal, retriever, but a dog, nonetheless. Dogs can be anywhere in the world, and be comfortable, as long as their people are with them. You could put my husband in a studio apartment in downtown Manhattan or on a ranch in a two-horse town in Mississippi, and as long as I am there with him, he would be equally happy in both.
Me, I’m a cat. Cats are the ultimate homebodies. They connect to places, to their home, and if you take them out of that space, and place them somewhere foreign, or somewhere that they just can’t really connect to, they don’t care if you’re with them every step of the way, they will be uncomfortable.
I think we live in a culture of dogs telling cats to be better dogs, a culture of dogs telling cats to get over it, bloom wherever life puts them, and I think that works for dogs, I really do. I think dogs can plant, and uproot, and connect, and plant again, and be totally fine.
This doesn’t work for cats. Cats exert a lot of energy to make a place feel like home. They seek their favorite windows, their favorite hiding places. They rub all over the place to familiarize it with their scent. You can’t expect cats to root and uproot every change of chapter. It’s harder for them.
I’ve been placed in plenty of spaces that don’t make my soul sing. I’ve been set in these places by people and circumstance, and I’ve been told to root. I’ve been told that it’s a me problem, that I’ll find flaws wherever I go, and while this is true, while nowhere is flawless, I am proud to say, that because of my adamant resistance to plant anywhere that didn’t feel right, I am now in the city for me.
I’m living in a place that makes my soul sing, and while I don’t know the future, I don’t know if I’ll stay here forever, I know that I am comfortable to plant here, to stretch my roots and join the community.
I am at rest here so for the first time in my life, I’m planting. It took nearly twenty-five years for me to truly plant somewhere, and while some people see that as twenty-five lost years, to me, it was necessary to find a home.
Life puts us in funny places, and sometimes we are held somewhere we don’t belong for longer than we’d wish. You can bloom there all you want, but if you’re a fellow cat, and the place just doesn’t fit you, there is no reason to mold yourself into it, to force it into some long-term plan, not when a place for you is out there somewhere.
Life is too short to plant anywhere that you don’t want to be. I don’t know how else to say that. Go where you want, find the place that fits you. You can bloom wherever you are, but you don’t have to plant until it feels right.
Don’t let anyone else plant you, and don’t let anyone else tell you how or when you should root and bloom.
You’re not a problem. Your gypsy soul is not the enemy. You’re just a cat who hasn’t quite found the right home.