Last night, I was watering my pitiful plants, most of which have been suffering slowly this winter from a wicked combination of cold drafts and terrible light. I started off my stint in east Dallas with over a dozen plants. I’m down to six now, with only half of that semi-dozen being worthy enough to be called “hardy”.
While soaking the soil, I thought about the days when my apartment looked like Stephen King in “Creepshow”. It seemed like every nook and cranny was bathed in sunlight or chlorophyll, and how helpful such warmth was to me at the time. I was still suffering from a terrible heartbreak, and it was around that time that I met a girl named Emily.
I have seen Emily only four times in my life. She was just a sophomore when we first met, during her interviews for a resident assistant position. During her first interview, it was one of just a handful of times where I saw time slow down enough for me to fully absorb the person I was encountering. Emily was young, beautiful, a swimmer on the college team–;and equally entranced by me.
I had the opportunity to interview her a second time and the magic continued. Lucky for both of us, she was offered a position at Kerr Hall.
The third time I saw her was the day I left Denton for Austin. I had Kilgore packed to the brim with the last of my Austin-bound load and was making final rounds to each building. Walking out of my last stop, Kerr Hall, with every intention of hitting the road and never looking back, I encounter a girl walking up to the building. Once again, it’s Emily and we get the opportunity to converse outside the stressful formalism that envelops job interviews. We talked, and then hugged, got each other’s email addresses, and away I went.
Inevitably, we struck up a conversation over the internet, being sucked into talks during the work day that kept us around the office well past 5 on a regular basis. Then one week, the hot water was cranked within our conversation as we confessed how we felt about each other. And how was that? Not love, not lust, just a longing to explore what made each other seem so great.
So a great idea was hatched –; Emily would come down to Austin to visit. And down she came. And it would be the last time I ever saw her.
Like a good guest, she brought gifts for her host. The most important of them was the weekend of wonderful friendship we shared. I don’t think the events needs to be recounted, but anyone who believes in their heart can imagine how sweet and right the weekend felt.
The other gift she brought was a symbol, the most- appropriate gift I have likely ever received. It was a houseplant to add to my collection. I never knew the scientific name for it, but the plant was a wonderfully lush specimen which was very hardy. And over the years I have done my best to keep the plant alive –; I saw the plant as a symbol of what I was fortunate enough to share with Emily, and I wanted to make the plant happy no matter what.
In Austin, the plant thrived. In North Dallas, it grew well. But in the area I live now, near downtown Dallas, it suffered terribly. The fatal blow came when Bob and I acquired two kittens, who proceeded to destroy the plant in the span of minutes. Now nothing is left of the plant except for memories, and it’s similar to how Emily disappeared out of my life.
I wish I had a picture of her — unfortunately when you search for her name on the internet, you get a whole bunch of stuff about art and film, mediums which cannot capture her brilliance. I can only hope she is as happy now as she made me then. I’m sorry the plant died, Emily. Believe me, I wouldn’t write a post like this about any other plant I have.
Update: …then suddenly out of the blue, in the textbook definition of coincidence, I find Emily on instant messenger today. And like I had hoped, she is happy. An amazing small world once again!