...was the conservatory.
While my mom was at my sister's house busy playing with grandkids and building Halloween costumes, we took Vinny's mom to the conservatory and zoo. She is a woman of few words, and very shy (yes, this is who Vinny gets it from!). Keeping conversations going can take a lot of energy with these two. However...
at the conservatory, all three of us enjoyed a quiet break of flora, fauna and humid silence. The moment we walked through the doors I felt the warm air wash over me, putting my mind and body at ease. I inhaled, deeply, the heavy emerald scent of soil, growth, and exotic blossoms. I immediately felt a sense of comfort. I think plants and places of natural beauty have this effect on people...but, in the instant of one breath, I was transported back to my childhood.
I grew up in an apartment above my parents' flower shop and greenhouse. At night I would go downstairs, when the shop was closed, and spend long hours playing in the purple-blue light of grow lamps. I grew up in my very own jungle. My years as a kid are wrapped in the peppery sweet smells of chrysanthemums and wet soil where I played "jungle Barbie" in the quiet of growing leaves or wrote in my diary or whispered secrets into the floppy ears of Heidi, my cocker spaniel. Sometimes I did nothing except weave my way through all those plants and think.
And so I let the miniature world of the conservatory swallow me in this way. Arching leaf fronds, exotic patterned bromiliads, ghostly white orchids, quiet goya ponds... I breathed, slowed my pace, and opened a space within myself to be filled by my strange childhood. I let our chatter be replaced by hushed wonder. As we walked, I noticed those parts of myself that have never changed. It is a part of my brain, somewhere towards the center, that has always felt the same...the part that is half detached and dreaming...the part that wants only to quietly imagine.
Maybe that is why I write, that is why I paint...because it is through these endeavors that I most easily access this part of myself. In many ways, I did not have an easy childhood. But, lately, I've begun to notice something shift inside of me. There is a part of me that wants to accept what was once hurtful--those deep, wounded parts of myself--because I'm beginning to realize that it was some of those most painful experiences that have created the greatest beauty within me. It is the sad child that played in a jungle all her own that taught me how to be sensitive and observant and how to love. The girl that played in the jungle is the one that taught me how to be strong. Courage comes in many forms of the imagination. There are parts of me that will never change--and, for that, I'm thankful.
This past weekend was the first time we've ever spent more than a couple hours with both of our moms together...and it's interesting because I could not help but notice how absolutely alike my mom and I are in so many ways...and how absolutely alike Vinny and his mom are. This weekend has given me a new appreciation for my own mom and a better understanding of why Vinny is the way that he is. There are so many facets to understanding who we are--both internal and external. I guess it doesn't have to be so much a matter of "finding ourself" as creating ourself. Each moment building upon the next. There is beauty in that. Deeply multifaceted beauty.