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Home Depot Is Where My Heart Is

Submitted by on November 18, 2009 – 3:41 pmComments

I agreed to do this landscaping project for a friend. Mind you, I am in no way qualified to landscape anything bigger than the window above my kitchen sink… and even that is questionable. Nonetheless, on our third trek to Home Depot today, I not only found cheap ground cover, but a little gem of relationship advice. As I waited for someone to move a pallet of potting soil to my reach, I spotted a very, shall we say, questionably dressed individual. His splatter print hammer pants were tucked into black gym socks, topped with a sleeveless flannel shirt and a trucker hat. He was every Iowan high schooler in 1987. Newly reacquainted with my cell phone, I of course took a photo immediately. A few minutes later, he approached me and began talking about plants. I was examining the tiny limes on a few potted citrus trees and he very enthusiastically informed me that I shouldn’t plant them too close together. “Oh, it’s okay… I’m not planting trees.” I said, trying to hide the fact that I was critically analyzing his behavior in hopes of determining some reason for his outfit. “I’m just standing here, waiting for dirt.”

But, he continued about the trees. He explained that two trees planted close together would compete for nutrients. I nodded. He babbled on about the symbiotic emotional relationship of plants as I looked around eagerly for anyone in an orange apron to intervene. Then, perhaps sensing my disinterest, he said, “It’s a metaphor for life,” and promptly walked away.

I was astounded. As I replayed what he had just said in my own head, I could hear the clicking of interlocking parts… if the trees are too close together, they don’t have room to grow. I suddenly realized that I have been planting myself too close to people for years, resulting in about a half dozen withered and malnourished relationships. Now that I’m single, I’ve actually given myself the space that I need to grow up strong and healthy, without having to compete for anything. I watched my absurdly dressed botanical love guru walk away, and wondered if he knew just how brilliant he really was. As I continued to process his advice, I stared intently over the aisle of perennials, mouth open, head cocked to one side. Finally, my friend walked up and looked at me questioningly. I pointed at the lime trees and said, “That 80’s guy just totally blew my mind.”

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