courage · love · responsibility · self-care


One phrase a single woman should never utter: Cat, stop
eating my flowers.
I bought myself flowers this week, as I now do periodically, and the
man at the flower stand, who went off on a very long monologue about the
upcoming new year for his religion, which I believe I gathered was Russian
Orthodox, told me that he’d been thinking about me. This older gentleman, who I
didn’t believe worked at the stand the first time I saw him there, and I
waited for the woman who I normally interacted with. I thought he was some sort
of flower stand hanger-on, or the woman’s husband (which he is), but a person
who didn’t know much about flowers or flower arrangements.
That time, he began to randomly pluck flowers from their
black watery bins, and show them to me, “This? … This?” and as I shook my
head, I became more convinced that he did not in fact work there.
Turns out, he did, and he does, but that first time, I
waited for his wife anyway, and walked away with a beautiful spray of day
lilies – the kind that smelled, as many in California do not, I found out from
the woman – that the kind that do, come from places where the land does get
cold in winter – like back in New Jersey, where we grew them along the side of
my house, and every summer the whole length of the house smelled of day lilies.
So, I always hunt for the ones that smell.
This week when I went, it was just the man, and his strange
information about seven things that they put on an altar for their new year,
including hyacinth and some sort of branch, which he said is why he’d been
thinking of me – that it was all very beautiful, but not as beautiful as me. …
Now, I play along, I’m charming, and he’s very delightful to have made up this
story on the spot, or maybe it was true. But it was a strange ending to this long religious info session. And
I walked away, with my bunch of flowers.
These flowers, this arrangement, is not pretty. It’s got
some spiky, scaggy deep purple sprays of some sort. An anemone-looking orange
one that probably eats live things in its other life. A stalk of not-so-fresh
looking sunrise flowers. A few branches of pussy-willow, and one stem of day
lilies – the smelling kind.
It sort of looks, overall, like a thanksgiving/fall style
color palette, and it is not pretty in the conventional way that I usually like
my flowers to be. But, it is beautiful in its own way. It is not something I
would have chosen.
I suppose I’m moved to write about it, them, this
interaction, because it sort of speaks to a few things for me. The first is
that, when someone compliments me, I assume it’s bunk. That it’s to get
something from me, like more business in this case. The second is that I knew I
wasn’t liking the arrangement he was making, but because of his compliment and
certainty in his work, I let it go, and took what I was being given. And third, of course, not all beautiful things are pretty.
The third, I’ll accept. It’s true. Things in this world are
to be marveled at, but they’re not always attractive in conventional ways, and
you may have to squint to see its beauty. So, this is partly about letting go
of my ideas about things in general. My proscribed black-and-white, good/not
good, thinking.
To the second, I ought to have said something. Just because
I was complimented doesn’t mean I have to take
what’s being handed to me. I am glad I have the flowers, but I do wish I had
asked for something other than a handful of motley and slightly craggy plants.
This, speaks to many things in my life and how I’ve lived it up to now.
And to the first, about dismissing compliments, well, that’s
back to the accepting support thing that I’m working on currently. To believe
that I am worthy of notice, support, love, and encouragement. And that perhaps people aren’t pulling my chain, or trying to get something from me, that perhaps I have something genuine that people like and are attracted to. To believe, as it were, that not every
rose has its thorn … 

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