Home is Where the Weeds are

January 1, 2021

My backyard is a lot like my family.

It’s wild, chaotic and messy. While it’s beautiful, it’s simultaneously blunt, direct and ugly.

It’s honest. It’s temperamental.

It’s life.

For years, it has overgrown with the grass taller than my knees. Vines and weeds crawl up the wooden planks that make up our “privacy fence.”

I say privacy fence with quotations because there’s nothing private about it. All of our crap, or my dog’s crap, is displayed for our neighbors (with yards that scream, “I am expensive,”) to see.

Before our family’s yard (and maybe our family) became this untamed mess of weeds, it was simple. My mom worked and my dad stayed home with my sister and me. In the summer, I’d beg my mom to stay home because it was summertime. No one should have to work.

The once strong, wooden deck cultivated a place of joy for our family. Memories were made here with family members who are no longer with us. Memories that will never be forgotten.

That was the most simple thing my family dealt with at the time, as far as my sister and I could tell. My backyard was a well-groomed sea of green grass where we played carefree.

But life is complicated. It’s not easy. The new day isn’t always as nice and shiny as everyone says. Sometimes there is no reset.

My sister and I no longer played together, and didn’t talk to each other anymore. Health issues happened — concerns about the well-being of our baby brother and my other sister’s academic ability developed. Money was a major issue that no one talked about, but we all felt.

And it’s no one’s fault. It just happens like that.

We were dealing with those weeds.

They kept growing and twisting and warping our life. They curled tight, almost lung-crushingly tight; until you become stretched to the point of no return.

And you just have to be okay.

My biggest fear was that those weeds would permanently wring my neck like an albatross. As someone who isn’t good at feeling tied down, I was feeling tied down by the dandelions and lavender and strawberry patches.

It felt inescapable.

Then, suddenly, in the middle of a pandemic, racial revolution and economic recession, we find that though everything isn’t perfect, we are okay. And actually okay at that.

This was no longer the most difficult thing we had dealt with.

What became second-nature, was suddenly mowed and clipped and dug up.

The vines retracted their grip on us.

The baby oak trees were unrooted.

The cat that lived under our disintegrating deck, evicted.

A breath of fresh air at last.

My sister and I repaired our relationship; and life was a little easier.

And we were dealing with the weeds gripping our country, but because of each other, everything seemed a whole lot easier to deal with. We were growing from darkness.

You don’t realize how important the weeds were until you’re out of them. They never really go away, but they are there as reminders of what once was. It may look ugly and rigid and flawed, but the weeds made my family real. 

We grew with the weeds.

Home is where the heart has always seemed too good to be true.

In my family, it’s home is where the weeds are.

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PBT team photo. Summer 2023

About PBT

We are a group of storytellers using timelapse photography and multimedia storytelling to explore watersheds. PBT has been in motion since 2011.

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