As I write, I am intruding on Grandmother’s vegetable garden. A cabbage is my seat, my lap a desk. I fled the house in a frenzy, desperate for solitude. I’m trying to ignore the bugs and glaring sunlight and muddy, hazardous conditions, but there are few places left in this world – or homestead – for a young writer to find solace. I have wasted moments of my life in vain attempts to explain that very fact to my loving, if unimpressed, family.
“You can write anywhere, Kitty!”
“Just sit at the table and stop fussing, Kitty.”
“Why do you even keep that silly diary, Kitty?”
Do they think I’m just a child with silly, impractical fantasies? They may never understand my true artistic passion. One day, my stories will be published, all compiled into an impressive, leather bound collection. I’ll have a book of poetry, too – as well as a play, something reflective and prickly to establish my credibility on social commentary. Maybe when I’m wealthy, independent, and respectable they’ll take me seriously.
Momma thinks I shirk my sewing and cooking duties on purpose. She’s tried so hard to make me ladylike and dignified. She wants me to be proper, a “good prospect” (whatever that means). Personally, I see nothing wrong with going barefoot and wearing pants. She thinks I believe myself superior to feminine responsibility, which isn’t true. I just think it’s dull. After all, I can’t find friends among culinary pursuits or embroidery projects. My friends are in these pages. And frankly, I prefer this smelly, untamed garden to that stuffy, musty kitchen or that boring old sewing room.
Also, Momma thinks that that Jackson Amos Freddingworth III is a “fine young man” from “good stock.” I think his nose is too big and his laugh sounds like someone harming a moose. He probably reeks of castor oil, or whatever he uses to make his hair greasy and blinding. I know he’s been off at college, but his intellect doesn’t make his nauseating obnoxiousness bearable. One day last summer he gave me a rose. I thought it a perfectly tolerable gift until he proceeded to explain the origin of roses, their Latin name, what Freud saw when studying at a rose, and how there are no blue or black roses in existence. Furthermore, he picked his teeth while he talked and sweated profusely. Yes, I’d sooner die than pursue Jackson Amos Freddingworth III’s affections. We’ll just see what extremes I’m forced to undertake. In fact, maybe I will die.
Or maybe I will live in this garden; Grandmother won’t mind. I’d build a little house between the tomato plants and befriend the earthworms – they’re probably pleasant enough company. I’d forsake footwear and conventions, writing freely to my heart’s content. Artists do need their liberty, you know, no matter what my family says.
The other day, Momma scolded me and told me to stop fantasizing about being an accomplished writer. She slammed a cabinet door and threw a dishrag on the black and white tile flooring. She wanted me to emerge from the pages on which I currently write; she wanted me to be domestic or something.
“Kitty, you’re creative and stubborn,” she said, “But all you do is write in a ridiculous diary!”
I sat frozen, unable to speak. I could feel my spark dimming. Momma, looking apologetic and concerned, regained her composure and sat down next to me at the table.
“The world is too big, Kitty. Your life here is big enough. You need to start understanding what has to be done, what needs to be done. You must stop your daydreaming; it isn’t real. You have responsibilities. You have obligations to uphold.”
Responsibilities, obligations – to who? I don’t want to be a part of any of it. I want Momma to be wrong. I want my dreams and passions to be real. I want to finish the stories I’ve begun. I want Jackson Amos Freddingworth III to find another girl to patronize. I want my family to take me seriously, and more importantly, I want to prove them all wrong.
That was the incident that brought me out here among the cabbages and tomatoes, which currently seem friendlier than human company. Maybe if they could talk they would tell me that my dreams aren’t a waste. Maybe the tomatoes would smile and tell me that someday, somewhere, someone will discover that my passion and hard work hasn’t been in vain. Maybe the cabbages would be on my side; maybe they would say what Momma didn’t. Maybe the lush, wild vines and leaves would engulf me, hug me, protect me, let me be… me.
But that’s all ridiculous, of course. Vegetables can’t talk. Deep down, I know what is expected of me. Reluctantly, I know what I have to do. I suppose I have to give Jackson an answer. I suppose I have to find some peace with Momma.
Maybe I am nothing more than a girl intruding on her grandmother’s vegetable garden.