Love as Invasive Species

Retaining wall covered by vines

Image via Wikipedia

We have a hundred year old house, an old fashioned bungalow with four bedrooms and slanted roofline. With a hundred years of trees and various plants growing in the yard. We have a persistent stretch of bittersweet, its orange fruits dotting bare winter branches, along the fence marking the property line between our yard and our neighbors. Recently we replaced the fence. I paid for most of it, and my neighbor did most of the labor. He and I did our best to uproot and maim the bittersweet but it has grown back.

After five years, two rose bushes appeared in my front yard sporting dark red blooms. One sprouting up from the southeast corner of the house, another from underneath an evergreen tree which is probably fifteen years old; the rose bush clearly outdates it. It is as if these roses have sprung back to life, perhaps planted by the original owner of the house, Clara Covey, who owned the house until her death in the 1940’s.

However, we also have another unnamed weed so pernicious that I call it invasive. It grows out from under the house in profusion from the north side in back by the garage and in the south side out front, where I am trying to grow rosa rugosa and hollyhocks. This weed has thick, long twisty vines which split like tree forks and keep spreading. It is impossible to pull up or dig out. A good friend of mine is an avid gardener and she has no idea what this vine is, and has never seen anything like it.

It sprouts literally from out of the cement foundation of the house, as if the heart of this beastly vine dwells directly beneath the center of my house. It creeps out and upward and once climbed up the back of the house on the north wall, up the bathroom window to creep into a crack in the glass straight into the house. My son put a stop to that with a weed wacker one afternoon. Weed whack it all you like, it keeps growing back.

My love for this man equals this vine’s persistence. It lay dormant in my heart for 18 years, and once awakened, spread forth through my house of self, wrapping itself around me, climbing into my windows and chinks in my walls, reaching down my chimney, down my throat, wrapping around my furnace, hot water heater and heart. Like the invasive Asian carp in the Mississippi River, it has invaded all my tributaries until it has navigated into every cell of my being. Every single one of my cell sis flooded with this love, because when I found it again, I threw my doors open to it and invited it in. It felt safe, I felt protected. In his arms, I was whole once again. The half of me which had been empty without him was filled, and so the vines of love filled me and I was happy, was glad to let them in.

For the first two days of shock after the betrayal, I told myself that I did not love him anymore. That every ounce, every drop of love I’d ever felt for him had evaporated immediately with the discovery of his infidelity. How could I continue to love someone who’d lied to me and hurt me like that? It was impossible.

But three days in to the experience, and I realized that my perception had been a trick of the shock. It was not so. The love is still running through me with all its vines and tendrils, into my open windows, down my chimney, into my heart. I cannot close my front or my back doors because the vines of devotion have grown so thick that I must step over them to get in or out. They are as thick as tree branches inside house and disperse into a thin network of capillaries through my bloodstream. These capillaries create points of light inside each of my tiny cells. They are tiny white candles lighting my whole being. They do not go out. They do not extinguish. I never stopped loving him all those years, and I never loved anyone else. Once the magic spark which reunited us three years ago was struck, slowly all of these candles relit in my being, my doors and windows opened, and I welcomed the rush of vines into every part of me.

I fear that to pull this love up by the roots is impossible. I hear all the thousand platitudes which people keep telling me “You’re better off knowing the truth,” and yes, the platitudes are right, but this love is so invasive that it will not go away. It is here to stay, and I must sit down with it alone and see what happens next.



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