Saturday, May 19, 2012

tiny memoir: flowers i have known

  • my dad used to buy orchid wrist corsages for my mother and i every easter to wear to church.  i used to love to sneak into the dark kitchen the night before, open the refrigerator and see them lit up in their glasslike boxes.  the contrast they provided sitting next to the jar of best foods and leftover tuna casserole was one of my first lessons in the power of beautiful things.
  • also:  the power of being fancy wearing orchid corsage.
  • there was a very large gardenia bush on the side of my childhood house on castro lane.  it was right under my window and i used to love to open my window on hot summer nights and let it scent the air in my room while i slept.  that deep sweet headiness permeated my dreams so often that even my current dreams sometime smell like gardenia.
  • it is also the scent of my first broken heart and any other personal turmoil that kept me awake at night.
  • camillias.
  • one night my friend and i snuck out of the house and smoked clove cigarettes under the stars in a neighbor's dark backyard.  the yard was surrounded by a fence completely clothed in blooming jasmine.  a thousand tiny white flowers caught the glow of the moon and made a theatre scrim of starlight.  it was a night of whispering secrets and trust and laughter tinged with danger.  to this day wild abandon smells like jasmine and clove and stars.
  • i got lost once on a family hike.  i became a bit melodramatic in my panic and feared dying in the woods or my parents grounding me for the rest of my life for veering off the trail.  after an hour, i turned to the south and came upon a valley of california wildflowers. i don't know if you've ever seen california wildflowers, but it looked something like this.  in an instant, i knew and loved and trusted being alone and independent.  i learned that a curious spirit is rewarded.   and i thought, yes, i could die here.