Let’s face it; you’re not the ideal candidate for something like this. Don’t get too carried away on your first go around. Start small. Go to Home Depot. Get a kit that comes with some clay pots, dehydrated soil, and, of course, seeds. You are gardening purely for the sake of function here, so forget about the form.
When you get home, get excited. Open the box too quickly and ignore all provided instructions. Read only the names of the herbs from the seed bags in both English and Spanish: “Cilantro… Cilantro.” Play with the hard pucks of soil before soaking them in water. Think, briefly, about The Mighty Ducks. Close your eyes. Everyone is cheering for you. Yes, you are the king of the rink.
Now open them. Look back down at your dirt-pucks. No one is cheering. Coach Gordon Bombay isn’t here to egg you on. Gardening is nothing like hockey, and you were never good at either one of them. Realize in this moment that for the past 15 minutes you’ve been kidding yourself, nothing is going to grow inside a crumbly brown sponge. Hold them hopelessly in your palms. Lower your head in defeat. Sigh.
No, wait, whatever. You’ve got momentum. You’re on a role. Remember how good it felt to pay $14 for the kit. Remember how the girl at the register looked at you like you were capable of anything, handed you the receipt and said, “Good luck” (but you knew she really was saying, “I love you”). This is you’re chance. This is your time to grow some basil.
Fill each pot almost completely with soil. You don’t have a shovel so just use your hand. You’re a gardener now; it’s ok to get dirty. Pause for a moment and close your eyes. Feel the dirt between your fingers. Yes, it feels gross, almost too much like something from another world, some living thing trying to swallow you up. Don’t let this distract you. Fill your pots and get out your seeds.
Consider, in this moment, going back to read the instructions. Don’t. You’ve got this. This isn’t rocket science, just dump the seeds in the dirt, cover them and be done with it. Place the pots by the window and stand there, staring at them. Try to let the seeds know that you are going to take care of them, to nurture them and love them.
Wait. How long have you been standing there? You’ve got other things to do. You’ve got a life to live. Get out there! Live it. Gardening requires patience. Come back later on, sit beside them, water them everyday, sing to them before you go to sleep.
After a few weeks, you’ll begin to notice a few sprouts. That’s right. You did it. Very quickly a few sprouts will turn into a few more, and shortly after that, you will have 5 clay pots teeming with life. Smell them. Be proud of yourself. You set out with a dream and you made it real. No matter what anyone says about you, you’re a pretty cool guy; you’re a gardener. Way to go!
Though, after a while, you’ll notice that their progress seems to be stunted in some way. Your plants, they haven’t changed in weeks. Maybe they aren’t getting enough light, enough water. Maybe the temperature in here isn’t ideal for them. Decide you are going to take them on a vacation, show them a little bit of the world. Bring them outside, but don’t take them too far. You’ll want to place them somewhere you can’t forget about them. Try behind your car; this will prevent you from leaving without taking them back inside. Go back inside. Drink some coffee. Feel good about yourself. Soon you’ll be cooking with thyme and parsley and chives. Everyone will want to be friends with you. You will go back to Home Depot and hand the girl at the register some pasta with fresh basil and say, “I love you too.”
You see; you’ve done it. In fact, you did such a good job, you should go back and get some more plants, maybe a cactus or a fern. You could be the kind of person with hanging plants, flowers that make you seem thoughtful and warm. Get excited; you’re moving up in the world.
Run down to your car. Imagine the check-out girl’s face when you show up with an orchid. Toss it in reverse and step on the gas. Listen to the sound of the clay pots crunching beneath your vehicle. Sit there for a moment. Don’t get upset. Just put your car in drive, pull it forward 7 feet and park it again. Get out of your car—don’t look back—just go inside. Sit down at your computer. Think about what your life would be like if you had a cat.