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I Am a Garden, Not a Plant

I didn’t hear him. I sobbed in a restless shiver. First time in my life, I ultimately stated aloud that my personality and my life were grander than one direction.

Photo by Mike Bacos on Unsplash

“I feel so constricted. It’s dark and stuffy. I am like a seed, you know, a tiny little sprout that spent years under the ground developing a sturdy extensive root system, but still can’t break through the ground. I am suffocating…” I took a deep breath, sensing shortness of oxygen in my chest and tears welling up. “I desperately need to get out of this hole. I will die if I won’t. I am already withering.”

“What kind of a plant are you? A flower? A bush? A tree?” His voice on the other side of the screen sounded fatherly strict.

I fiddled with my herbal teabag, noticing dark splotches on the inside walls of the cup, painted by dirty-green tea residue.

“I am tempted to say that I am an exotic flower. However, I don’t know whether I am even a plant,” I shrugged. I was unsure of anything anymore. “I mean, I feel that I am bigger than a plant. Much bigger than a plant.”

“Well, if you are not a plant, what are you?” I could tell that he was growing impatient. Or, maybe I was reading my projection on him. Our session lasted for forty minutes already, and until now I only cried and complained, circling the same spot, unable to draw any insights, like a dog before she takes a piss. I was disappointed in myself. I took an eternal moment in deafening silence, wiping tears.

“ I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.” I cried out repeatedly. “I am choking inside. I don’t know what I am anymore.”

“Well, if you could choose, what would you be if you weren’t a plant?” He softened.

“First thing that comes to mind is either a forest or a garden.” I blurted. “ I am not one plant. I am a bunch of different plants, growing together.”

“So, are you a forest or a garden?” He confirmed.

I didn’t hear him. I sobbed in a restless shiver. First time in my life, I ultimately stated aloud that my personality and my life were grander than one seed, one specialization, and one direction. In sharp pain of clarity, I allowed myself to accept that I am a complex, grandiose, unsuitable entity, too big to fit into a sole category. Indeed, I was not a singular plant. I was a combination of many sprouts of various heights, depths, lengths, textures and lifetimes, naturally blending and intertwining as a soothing melody of nature’s symphony.

“So? A forest or a garden?” He brought me back to reality.

“A forest can be mysterious, but the deeper you go, the murkier and lonelier it gets. People get lost in the forest, fearing for survival. I don’t want anybody to be lost inside of me. Not anymore.” I reasoned, noticing my thoughts bouncing in sporadic jolts. “A garden has more structure. I crave a little bit of structure these days. Also, I can segment the garden into designated areas: a lawn for concerts, a secluded area for meditation, a wilderness zone. A garden is man-made. Gardens are created for people, you know.”

“Are you man-made?”

“Kind of. Whatever I am today is a tangible version of what I wanted to be some time ago. And then, of course, my parents have taken a part in my development, and everyone else who crossed my path. So yeah, you can say that I am man-made.”

“Are you created for people?”

I stopped fiddling with the teabag, which fell apart in little dusty specks, blurring the tea.

“No. I am created for myself.”

“Are you a person?” He shrugged, unplugging the headset. “You were a seed just a minute ago. Just saying.”

I hated him at that precise moment. I wish I could break his headset.

“I am a person who chooses to be a garden for people.” I hissed.

“Interesting. So if I am hearing this correctly, you allow everyone to come inside of you, unwind, have picnics, contemplate, process the sorrows, make out, hang out with friends, and then leave you, full of trash debris and yellow dry spots in place of their wasted thoughts and actions?” He raised the eyebrows and put the headset back on. “Who is taking care of the garbage and nourishment of the soil? If you are a garden, who is taking care of you?”

I hated him even more. I hated his voice. I hated his headset. I hated his bulletproof logic which ricocheted off the walls in my teacup. This was the exact reason why I felt so lonely and so empty often. People transited through my world, readjusted the beliefs, and moved on to live. Meanwhile, my heart longed for someone to stay and hold me. It was my choice to let them in and let them go, though: my payment for a human connection to combat the loneliness. But how much time and effort did it take me to clean the inside of my soul every time they went on their way? Could I ever learn to replace and maintain the inner filter before it clogged and malfunctioned?

“Why don’t you choose to create a garden for people instead of being one?” He fixed his eyes on the point in the screen, which was probably my face in his virtual world. At least I hoped so. I hoped that he cared.

“I don’t want to be a gardener,” I whispered. “I am fed up with doing all the dirty work and staying invisible to the public. I can’t afford it anymore. It doesn’t pay for my dreams.”

“Well, if you don’t want to be a gardener, what else could you be?” The fatherly tone rang again. Not as strict this time.

“I don’t know.” My imagination sprinted. “How about enchantress of the magical royal garden? How does that sound, huh?”

“How does that sound to you? It’s your garden.” He bounced back indifferently.

My hate for this wise man spiked in a feverish storm and finally left the body.

“It sounds stupid and pompous.” I deflated. “But the hostess of the garden, on the other hand, has a content and exciting ring to it.”

“A hostess?”

My mind raced to the old days when my house was full of guests for dinners, long-term visits, and cake conversations. I loved creating an ambiance, spruced by beautiful dining arrangements, fresh floral cuts, delicious foods, soft beds, and incredible unconditional acceptance when everyone could come and show the true conflicted self for a few hours or a few days. My job then was simple: to hold a vast intimate space, where secrets spilled, memories originated or resurfaced, and, most importantly, souls healed. Souls, like mine. I didn’t even talk to those people much. My role was beyond words. The mind returned to my current reality, shadowed by relocation and social distancing.

“I love hosting people.” I wiped the tears off my cheek. “ God, I miss hosting people!!!”

“Are you still withering?” He asked.

“Yes, but I know now how I got into this stuffy hole.” I shrugged. “I dug it myself.”

“Do you still feel like a tiny sprout?”

“No.” I sighed with sadness, but also a relief. “I am bigger than that. I am a hostess of the garden and I choose what is planted, who gets to visit, and how long they can stay. I own the garden.



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Elena Emma

Elena Emma


Elena Emma is an adjunct professor, coach, entrepreneur, writer, and artist. She believes in love, rainbows, and dreams coming true through hard work and magic.