The Danger of Signs


The tree in my front yard is driving me crazy. Which may make me sound a little crazy, but its true. A tree is making me nuts, and it’s not even a full-grown tree, it’s just a sapling sitting helplessly in my front yard.

Let me back up to why I have a sapling in my yard. It has become very clear to me that one of the major aspects of adult life is gardening. Seriously, in the year that I’ve been out of college I have been given countless plants, seeds, soil you name it with a thinly veiled metaphor that my life is just beginning. It is also a huge topic of conversation in both of my work places: what you’re growing, if you can eat it, the danger of flies etc. So when I was given yet another type of plant, this time being a fern sapling, I took matters into my own hands instead of passing it on to my grandmother’s garden.

And so began my descent into madness, because the stupid thing is dying. My first foray into the gardening world has ended with a sad, withering plant that I see get weaker and weaker every day before I go to work. What started as a lush green sapling has turned the color of wheat germ on my watch. I watch it every day start to fall closer and closer to the ground instead of growing higher to meet the trees around it. So why is it driving me crazy? Because I believe in signs.

Not in a “let it control my life way” but in a guiding hand type of way. I like horoscopes and tarot cards, I like the possibility of what that could mean. The idea that there is something greater out there is comforting, so I try to interpret what the world around me is giving me or trying to tell me. So no, this is not the first time I’ve let a random happening in nature send me into a tailspin, and it probably won’t be the last. And as ridiculous as it sounds, I can’t help but think that I’m the tree.

I just celebrated the one-year anniversary of my college graduation, and I am not even close to where I thought I would be. My immediate plan after graduation was to move back home, make as much money as possible, and be on the road to L.A. or New York City by Thanksgiving. This was obviously guided by post-graduate naïveté and the feeling that I could do anything. Then I moved home and reality set in. I worked every temp job, retail, babysitting, house sitting, and every possible job that could be ended at a moments notice. This was temporary; I had my eyes on adventure. Then I took a meeting that became a journalism job. I thought it was perfect! It was part time and I was going to be paid to write? Sign me up! So I accepted and I have worked there ever since.

Thanksgiving, New Years, Spring Break, and all my other mental deadlines passed and every time I came up with some reason not to leave. I needed more money, there was a lot to do at the magazine, where would I live in this new city where I knew no one. Why would I leave a job in my field, what so few people my age have, to be unemployed somewhere else? I have friends here, family that I love, and I’m happy. Grow where you are planted, so I did. I signed a lease with my two best friends and leaned in to my adult life in my hometown.

Then the tree happened. Every morning I walk past it to my car and see everything that could have been and what could still be. I used to be green; I used to want crazy and wonderful things. Did I grow up or just settle? Am I really happy or just comfortable? The sapling did not grow where it was planted, it died there and even so I couldn’t bring myself to pull it out of the ground. Maybe it would turn green again, and maybe these were just growing pains. It could still be a tree, and ripping it from the ground would certainly end any chance of that.

So there it stays, dying in the dirt while I try and figure out what to do.