I am working outside, tending to the land. First things first: an epic dog-poop-pick-up. Cleaning up the last bits of garbage from the previous owners, a shard of glass here, a pile of kitty litter there. It feels good to clear the shit out. Literally. Now the bunch grasses, clipping off last year’s growth to make space for the new grass to peek through. I’m finding it difficult to differentiate what needs to be cleared and what needs to stay, what decay feeds the new growth and what inhibits it? I do not consider myself a gardener or a grower of things, particularly. My father is, and my grandfather was. Here is a part of my family, a part of me that I do not consider a part of me. My mother was a singer, is an artist. Another part of me that doesn’t exist. A memory surfaces….I am young, maybe 7 or 8. My two older brothers are mad at me again, for being too girly maybe, or for telling on them for being mean to me, or for setting a boundary and demanding respect from them. They tell me they won’t talk to me for the next week as my punishment. My heart drops, and the feeling of being outcast, the deep knowing of not belonging, settles deep inside me.  It is dark and decay, a part of me that is always dying, rotting from the inside. In my anger and little-girl desperation, I retort that I won’t talk to them for two weeks, so take that. They laugh, and say they are glad. That I would be doing them a favor if I just disappeared forever. I’ve never forgotten that laugh.

And so I cut these pieces away, the not belonging. I have never really felt a part of my family. It never feels more true than in this moment, me struggling to prune the bunch grasses that line my walk, feeling clueless, trying to coax these growing things to grow again. Wondering how my father does it. How my grandfather did. Even when my father sought to teach me these things, I could not embody them, somehow instinctively rejecting his wisdom, that dead feeling of not belonging already embedded in every interaction, the protective instinct to cut it away, quickly, before hope can grow again.