The retaining wall will be built on both sides of the brick walkway.
But the event that was supposed to bring resolution doesn't happen and I'm left with a mouth full of words and no way to say them. I head for the basement and shut the door behind me. I tip my head back and yell at the Universe until tears, thick with salt, run along my cheeks and into my mouth. I sit on the bottom step, my head on my knees, until my breathing calms. "I don't want to feel so much. I wish I were a robot", I whisper to the walls. "You're being stupid", I tell myself. "We all have our talents", I respond.
A new plan is made and I get in my car and drive in silence across empty country roads. I go straight until I have to turn and tell myself to think every thought and then leave them behind, mental confetti to litter the roadway but it doesn't work. I come home exhausted.
The wall will include three different levels.
Sitting at the table, I grab a stack of paper and cut it into strips. One strip at a time, I write down all the thoughts that gnaw at the edges of each day and chew into my sleep. They are frustrations, concerns, and hard things that might need to be done. I do not like them. I grab another stack and write down everything that's right in my life, before stuffing the strips into two different bags.
The back garden is a mess. A series of long trenches dug deep into a slope for the retaining wall has turned the yard into a scene from a war movie. I sit on the top step on the brick walkway that runs between the two sides of the planned retaining wall and open the bags. I quietly read aloud each problem before letting the slip fall into the trench. Between problems, I read a slip that reminds me of what's right and beautiful in my life. I tuck these back into the bag when I'm done while the others cover the bottom of the hole. I grab my lighter, reach into the empty space, and quickly light the paper on fire.
An unexpected text that brought me to tears.
I am terrified and fascinated by fire, a feral childhood spent in California watching hills burn and cheering with my brother when orange flames from a road flare we'd ignited engulfed our turquoise polyester couch. But this is thick red Virginia clay, moist from rain and the pages smolder and smoke before burning. The ashes will soon be covered with concrete blocks and river rock. If I must wait to solve this problem, I will transform it into something beautiful. It is the only way to let it all go. I am desperate for the peace.
My brain grows still and I watch the ashes blacken the soil. "Maybe everything will be ok" I whisper. I look across the mounds of dirt and weeds and imagine a happy ending. "What are you growing in this garden?" I ask myself.