When the internet crashes for whatever reason it makes me seriously wonder what we did before Facebook and email. How did we honestly exist? Instead of calling someone now; I email them and never think twice about not remembering a phone number, as everything is just one click away. This weekend I did not have the luxury of doing things like that and I had to find my address book at one point. It is nothing but a beat up old book that holds years of names and addresses of all my "potted plant friends".
My friend Lisa in Ontario conjured that name up when she assumed one day that she might only be a "potted plant friend" in my life. Lisa told me it meant that you are simply a friend that one talks to when no one else is around. I personally thought the meaning was wrong, and the words “potted plant friends” are all about the people that we have gathered during our lives. What Lisa did not realize was that she had many green leaves full of knowledge with a beautiful red flower in the middle, like the incredible person she is. Just like all the other people I have met; each one is to be cherished.
Lisa and all my friends in that book are the ultimate "potted plant friends" as even if I have not seen them in years they are still in my thoughts. I never got rid of my two address books because they are the diaries of my life. Some of the phone numbers are no longer valid and a few have died but they are all part of the good baggage I haul along in life with me. Each person in this book has coasted down the highway of life with me during some point. Every one of them now sits on an imaginative plant sill in my mind with some sort of past story that I will never forget.
”The heart of any irrigation system is its irrigation controller.” (Gardening Guru)
So are we each a controller of our friendships, determining how long they last and the quality that we give them? How many do we endure and silently end because we have moved on in our thoughts and actions? What suddenly stops a friendship?
“One of the greatest wastes of water at home is how long it takes for your hot water to go from cold to hot.”
Do I feel like I wasted time on any of the friendships in my address books? Why did some go from hot to cold instead of getting warmer? A few of them lasted for years, others maybe months, but most of the people in these books I have not seen in a long time.
Pictures, death notices, and change of address cards are all taped on the yellowed pages. It is very obvious that I never wanted to forget them but why did we stop being friends? I silently ask myself if I called one of these numbers today would our conversations be the same? Would they care any longer to hear my voice?
I remember as a teenager calling a very good friend of my mothers after a twelve year absence of contact. I thought she would be overjoyed to hear from me but the conversation was short and strained. What had changed and why? Was I no longer in her thoughts?
When my sister Robin died I decided to call up a former neighbour that had known us for years to tell him. I was shocked that he was not even in the slightest bit interested and told me to hang up less his partner who was terminally ill know the nature of the conversation. Should I take these books and throw them out, and if I do will some of the memories of smiles, hugs and life disappear?
When I see Meaddow’s name in my book I do not want to forget the many conversations we had about her son who loved Pokemon and American Idol. I also want to be reminded of Shawn with memories of the all ages music club we had and the time we spent together. Or how about Pat, who knew I was short of money once and sent me a crisp twenty dollar bill in a card just out of the blue. My dear sweet Irene sits in the middle of the book, yet she is no longer with us anymore. Do I want to forget about her?
I sit and fondle my worn out black address book and wonder what people do today without these pieces of personal history. It is quickly answered later when I see a sign on a telephone pole hoping for the return of their cell phone. Like my address book, their life must be all recorded on that phone and they do not want to forget their "potted plant friends". My address book is now simply a prehistoric item and things have changed but the thoughts will always remain the same and for that I am thankful.
Images and text: Linda Seccaspina 2012
Dedicated to Lisa Crandall
HAPPY CANADIAN THANKSGIVING THIS WEEKEND!!