Love Letters in Flower by Morgan McFinn
My Love Letters
Every couple of weeks I write a letter to my girlfriend, Sabine, in Berlin. Despite thinking of her often and missing her dearly, each succeeding letter has become more of a strain to crank out. Usually, I can’t come up with much more to say than, “I think of you often and miss you dearly.” Beyond that, I re-read her most recent letter in order to write something to her about what she wrote me.
Her Love Letters
Unfortunately, her love letters consist of little more than the report that she thinks of me often and misses me dearly. Needless to say, it’s not likely that a volume of our correspondences will ever make it to the auction block at Sotheby’s.
Yesterday, however, I happened to glance at the two plants I’d bought for her, and wrote suggesting that she visit soon if she wants to see them while they’re still alive. I gave them to her as a present when she was here in March.
Yes, it is a rather clever idea to buy a gift for someone you know won’t be taking it away. You might say it’s a case of having your cake and eating it too–although that’s an idiom I’ve never quite understood. When you think about it, how could anyone eat cake if they didn’t have a cake to eat? And, if they eat their cake, then they have their cake. So really, why make a big fuss about it?
I guess it just proves that as far as idioms go, you’re better off not thinking too much. When you hear one, simply say, “Well, yes, of course. Isn’t that the truth.” Then finish washing the dishes.
In any case, I bought Sabine a rose plant and a bougainvillea–which is a funny name for a plant. It’s a funny name for anything except maybe a French sauce. Actually, it would be a funny name for a French sauce, too. But, who’d have the gall to question the French about it?
Only one rose has bloomed since Sabine returned to Berlin three months ago. The bougainvillea has shed all it’s leaves and looks like a bundle of thorny tumbleweed. I had been very fond of these two verdant descendents of Eden. Naturally, they were meant to commemorate the blossoming of love between Sabine and me.
I’ve done my best to care for them. Research advised that I water them shortly after sunrise and then again near dusk. Why, I don’t know. It’s certainly been no small bother having to haul my bones out of bed every morning at six. I mean, it’s not like these two blighters are particularly busy or have places to go. But, nevertheless, I followed the sage instruction of the horticulturists. (My God, isn’t that a carousel ride of a word. No wonder they thought up the name “bougainvillea” to call this recalcitrant shrub of mine.)
Both of them must know that I’m not that happy with their behavior, because although I’ve never spoken to them, I do glare at them scornfully from time to time. Yes, I know that talking to plants is recommended, and many–here we go again–horticulturists claim that flowers and plants respond well to the tender intonations of human chatter. Well, call me an elitist snob if you like, but I don’t talk to shrubs. In fact, the few people I’ve met who do, ought to be put in pots and hung from the rafters themselves.
During the last few days I have, however, incurred the additional expense of blanketing these potted flora in store-bought topsoil and quenching their precious thirst with bottled spring water. But, to no avail. Still they just loll about like welfare recipients looking more and more bedraggled. What would these miscreants have me do next, hire a professional–hang on folks–horticulturist to wet nurse them back to splendor?
The worst part about this whole ordeal is that it’s begun to rouse trepidations of concern regarding my fraulein in Berlin. Given that these withered garlands were meant to sustain the memory of our passion for one another, is it any surprise that their demise incites a suspicion of infidelity
Hey, don’t look at me. Naturally, I may have thought about it. After all, it’s been three months since we were together, and at forty-something my libido remains robust. Lots of garlic and ginseng embellish the daily victuals. Oh, okay, I admit there was a brief lightening bolt of an episode with an adorable girl from Chiang Mai. I was lonely; she was lovely. I was drunk; she was drowsy. Everything was dark and vague.
Okay, okay, so shoot me. Is that why these blasted shrubs have slipped into a coma? But what about Sabine? What sort of mischief has she been playing? It’s been so long since I’ve seen her that I’m not even sure she’s the same girl I’ve been thinking about day and night. As a matter of fact, she should send me a photograph of herself before she visits again. Imagine the jolt were she to sashay up to my bungalow with baggage in tow for a two-week sojourn and I didn’t recognize her.
The implication is not that there have been many women in my life lately. On the contrary, there really haven’t been any. But, while absence may make the heart grow fonder, the mind is apt to play tricks. Sabine and I knew each other, Biblically, for only a week. Then she was gone. As mentioned, I’ve thought of her every day since. However, without seeing her, touching her, hearing her, without smelling and tasting her, she has become a kind of ethereal vision of unrivaled beauty.
When circumstances prevent lovers from loving, lovers tend to indulge in whimsical reveries of invention. The problem, of course, is in keeping one’s rhapsodies tethered to reality. The more time spent applying your imagination to a lover instead of your body, the more likely it is that your lover will be a disappointment the next time you see her.
The pity is that back in March, Sabine and I didn’t consider drafting a reverse strategy. We should have sent the plants to Berlin and remained here together ourselves. All parties concerned were in full flower at the time, and I, for one, would have much preferred tending to the gaiety of love and the comfort of my lover than to these two ungrateful scraps of foliage.
Don’t misunderstand me. God forbid that I be accused of disparaging Mother Nature’s foliage. Two of my five senses are extremely fond of her handiwork. I treasure the sight and smell of it all. Unfortunately, I apparently have no skill for nourishing. The green thumb I’m sporting now is a result of gangrene from these blasted thorns.
The plants would be a lot happier in Berlin. I know this because I know that someday very, very soon, the slothful, lethargic ingrates are going to wake up at the bottom of Maenam Bay.
Better that the plants were in Berlin and Sabine in my arms. I’m sure both couples would think of each other often and miss each other dearly.
Morgan McFinn is from Chicago and currently resides in Cambodia with his wife. He has a B.A. degree in Philosophy from Georgetown University. Much of his work should be considered humorous and fictionalized memoirs. There are also satirical essays. Location settings include Thailand, Cambodia, India, Burma, Morocco and Greece. Excerpts, reviews & purchase information are available via his website: http://www.morganmcfinn.com
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