Everywhere we went there were rocks to admire and some to bring home. Even if they were pebbles. Mostly they were yellow colored. Rock colored. But some were slate grey, some were green, and some only showed their beauty after you washed them down. I don't know how she picked her rocks. She always had a knack for finding the ones that made you feel as if they were special. Jagged edges, smoothed shapes, she had room for them all in her garden.
After we sold the big house, the big dusty brown house with a garden she'd carved out of the hillside, with steps formed of rocks from everywhere that she'd cemented in with her own hands, we moved some of the rocks away.
We couldn't move them all - not when we had to compress the furniture of a three bedroom house into a double wide trailer, too. Not when it felt like a little bit of both of our souls had broken in the big house. The man she'd called lover and I'd called Jon had left us there, with debt and possibly drug addiction, and certainly with bills and bewildered heartbreak, and in the new house there simply wasn't enough room for all of the rocks, too.
So she went through and picked some of them. I don't know how she made her decisions, but she made a pile of 'takes' and a pile of 'leaves'. The beat-up honda was gone, a Z-28 in it's place, and the car didn't like driving along the dirt road with that many rocks in the trunk.
But we moved them, we moved us, to a hilltop where the wind sang and the stars seemed to want to heal us. Some things just scarred over, while others moved in deeper, stab wounds. And the rocks were arranged on the wooden porch, not in the yard touching the earth anymore. This place didn't need rock steps cut into the sides of the garden.
It was there where I learned how to mow the lawn, since it had one in both front and back. Rocks don't really go with a lawn that you have to mow, so they stayed on the top of the porch and kept mom company while she smoked.
Years later, after I moved away, mom moved too, from the doublewide on the hilltop to a little house on a street just outside of town. One of those streets that they plunk down now, with zero lot lines and incongruous fireplaces. The backyard was a strip about five feet deep and 20 feet wide, no grass, just rocks. Not the rocks of the countryside, but the construction lawn rocks, dull and grey-white, mostly regular in shape and size.
But mom took some of her rocks with her. Again, not as many as we'd had at the house on the hill. Not as strong anymore, so she didn't want to lift as many of the big ones into the back of the car. It's not a Z-28 anymore, but a maroon Marquis, or something like that. I wasn't there for that move either. Maybe if I'd have gone home, she would've taken more of the rocks. Instead she brought all the driftwood and the garden chairs, the sprinkler and her ashtray. Necessary things, no matter what kind of a garden you have.
She still arranged her plants around rocks in that garden. She made a paradise in stepping stones and beautiful ceramic planters, but the keystones were always rocks. The ones that came with the house were just a base, and she built and built, with fountains and color, with soft swings and trellises, until you didn't feel like you'd been left with something sterile. It felt like she'd maybe had her fill of rocks, though, and was moving back to growing things.
Now she lives in an apartment, and I wonder if she took any rocks with her this time. She complains that there's too much she had to put in storage, too much that wouldn't fit in the cupboards and too little she can do with the community garden. I'm states away, and haven't gotten to see which rocks she took.
Maybe someday, though.