We finally did it. After nine years Eric and I finally committed; we went away and we didn’t work for a single second. Okay, we worked a little. But we didn’t have ulterior motives and we only brought a single guitar. This trip was just for us and it was wonderful and exhausting and I missed it the moment we woke up on Sunday morning even though we hadn’t even left our airbnb apartment yet.
We had a short list of things we wanted to do in the city.
1. Go to MOMA to see the Bjork exhibit.
2. Hang out with one of my best friends that I’ve known since 2nd grade.
3. Go to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
4. Take ourselves out to dinner
5. Go to Astoria to visit two friends from our music collective.
We did all of these things. And more. We drank whiskey and ginger in the backseat of a taxi in the middle of Friday rush hour traffic. We walked The High Line where we saw Jodi Foster (Eric said she was staring at me). We poked around Brooklyn Flea. We strolled the streets of Williamsburg without instruments. We put on our fanciest Salvation Army clothes and took ourselves to a fancyish restaurant where they tried to sell me a whole bottle of wine to myself and I didn’t get swindled! I made them pour me only a glass. Upstate Shmupstate. I’m no fool.
I’ve been wanting to go to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for as long as I can remember, but always in the back of my mind I’ve anticipated a let down. I love going to Gardens and Arboretums, but I’m not sure why because so often I’m left wanting more. I imagine them all to be so epic and romantic in my head and then I go and I’m not impressed. But I felt like a child at BBG. A child in terms of my horticultural knowledge and a child in terms of my level of giddiness. Nothing was leafed out and nearly nothing was in flower -save for the magnolias, daffodils, tulips, and a few clumps of hellebore. But it didn’t matter to us. We studied the trunks of trees, not distracted by their leaves. Memorizing their branch structures and bark patterns. From afar we would point “what’s that? I don’t recognize that,” and then we’d go over and study the sign and take a picture of it because the trees we didn’t recognize were the trees we don’t have growing in our small arboretum and they should be.
I gazed at dried-up tufts of last year’s perennials and empty annual beds. It didn’t matter that there were no plants. I looked at the tags. I could imagine the endless beds filled with what they said they would be filled with in a few months. Now that I think about it, if you’re not into plants and trees for anything other than just admiring their beauty then it probably would have been pretty disappointing this time of year. But thankfully we’re in it for more than that. These things are like old friends, and new friends I haven’t gotten to know yet.
And then of course, there was plenty to oogle at, like a whole aquatic house filled with hanging orchids and the tropical pavilion which was so hot inside we immediately started having flashbacks to Thailand. I had one of the most immersive memory experiences there. The heat, the smells, the plants. I was seeing trees I had forgotten existed and flowers I hadn’t smelled in nine years. It was warping and twisting my brain. And I cried a little, quietly, joyously. Every time I turned around there was another plant or tree I forgot was a plant or tree. I just kept saying their names out loud like they were children or friends. “Mahogany tree! Jackfruit fruit! Star fruit! Mango! Black Pepper plant! Vanilla! Macadamia Nut! Coffee! Gardenia!”
Eric laughed at me the way you laugh at a spouse when you’re remembering some part about them you may have forgotten. A part they may have forgotten too.
I won’t even get in to the bonsais.
P.S. We have joined the 21st century. We are now on Instagram -although my preferred phone is still the rotary in the kitchen. But those pictures don’t turn out so good.