A Straight Line

“Damn!” I swat at another mosquito and rub the raised red bump on my leg where a winged hellion has already drawn blood. “Damn, I hate doing this.”

Kneeling on the grass, dirt pile in front of me, garden tools discarded for the minute, I try to remember something. But between the sun beating on the top of my head, the little toad dancing between my shoeless toes, and the itching of my bug bites, I can’t retrieve what my brain and soul are dying to tell me. In fact, I feel a lecture coming on, one of the worst kinds, because it’s coming from myself. If only I could concentrate and get the nagging thought out of the inner reaches of my mind.

I sit all the way down now on the tickly grass, smiling. I’m like that Harry Potter character, what was his name? Dumbledore, or something like that. The high priest of Hogwarts, the school for witches. Anyway, Dumbledore needed to show Harry one of his memories, and he used his wand. I can’t exactly remember how (my memory really is getting bad – should I be worried?) but I think he put the wand in his ear ? and then cobweb-like strands came out, each a memory to be sorted out and re-lived.

Ugh, I don’t know if I really want to figure out what memory is niggling at me. I have that sinking feeling that it won’t be a good one.

I toss my head, shaking away all those cobwebbed memories, and get back to work. So far I’ve dug 30 holes for the 36 impatiens I bought at the nursery. Six more holes to go, but as I stand up to look at my hard work, I realize that my line of holes running down the garden is crooked. Crooked!

“I hate this!” I yell. Henry the dog, who’s been watching my so-called gardening attempts for the last 45 minutes with a bemused expression on his face, stands up suddenly, worried. I rarely raise my voice, and Henry probably figures something is mighty wrong to get me so riled up.

Husband thinks so too. He jogs over to me from the other side of the yard. He’s already raked an acre, pulled up 100 weeds, and planted a dozen herbs. I’m a slacker! A slacker!

“Uh, Pam. Lovie. You need a straight line.”

Okay, that’s it. I will either murder him, or leave him forever, right on the spot. Or both? What was wrong with doing both?

Instead, I watch him, engineer that he is, return from the garage with a roll of string and run a straight line from one end of the garden plot to the other. My holes are more crooked than a bad mouthful of teeth.

I gnash my own teeth and curl my hands into fists. “I am not redoing those holes. It took me almost an hour to dig them. I am done. Through!”

Husband begins to laugh, and I look around for something to throw at him. A shovel? A rake? Instead, I demand, “What’s so funny?”

“You said the exact same thing last year.”

“Last year?” I repeat, beginning to see where this is going.

“And the year before, and the year before that,” he continues, not seeing the glint of madness begin to creep into my eyes. “Every year you race to the nursery and buy exactly 36 pink and red impatiens…”

I glance over at the flowers – yup, pink and red.

“And every year,” dear, clueless hubby goes on, “you get mad at the mosquitoes and dirt and sweat running down your back, and you say you’ll never do this again.”

I am not laughing along with said husband. I’m too angry with myself. He’s right – how do I not learn from my past experiences? In the winter I chirp on and on with friends about how much I love to plant the pretty pink flowers and watch them grow and beautify the yard, and then when it’s time to really get down and dirty and do the deed, I hate it!

“I’m going in to wash up,” I now say to the man.

“I know,” he says. “Cause every year I end up planting your flowers.”

I smile at him then, happy. Because that’s the other part of the experience I now remember.

He always cleans up after me!