in those days, i was looking for things to keep me soft.

i didn’t know it at the time, but it was what my body was doing reflexively. like metabolism converting food into energy, my heart needed to absorb every last tender and gentle thing it came across in order to keep me going.

i went on many morning walks in those days, always amazed at how the sunlit leaves radiated like magic, or like glowsticks, or like a joke that you’ve been let in on. i craved to see the world changed by morning again and again and again.

one morning on one such walk, rounding the corner of Portland and Magnolia, i almost stepped on a broken robin’s egg, just bigger than my thumbnail, lying on the sidewalk. i knelt to pick them up, embarrassed by the passerby observing me, but intent to not let the shell get broken any further. i slipped the bluegreen halves into my pocket, protected by the padded olive corduroy.

i bought more plants in those days. i was more frivolous with my money and the whims often won out over the budget (a habit i am still reeling back from). one weeknight in particular, at the Trader Joe’s on Hillsboro, i was struck by two plants: a hanging viney guy (i wish i were the type to call a plant by it’s Christian name), and an upshot leafy one, with magenta stalks and a faint trace of pink outlining its fronds. the pink was so subtle but shocking and i wanted it by my bedside. it came potted in an unassuming but vibrant bluegreen plastic pot. not a flimsy, throwaway plastic but the good kind—the stuff of late 80’s Tupperware catalogues, that makes you feel less guilty about your carbon footprint because you know this Tupperware will follow you for a long while and be filled with many things.

i did not want to be soft in those days. i didn’t want to want or be reminded of my wanting. it was the wanting that got me here in the first place, raising my hopes high enough to be so embarrassingly gutted when they were unmet.

but that greenblue followed me everywhere those days. a travel mug lent by a friend, til it was mine with a—no, you keep it. a used, faded military jacket, with just enough surprise of blue. a new backpack, aquamarine, ready for old pins and roughing up. all things asking to be filled: with tea, with books, with arms. all things that would carry me through.

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