They sit in that urn. The one that never really held ashes. Fake flowers. Orange, blue, yellow and purple. Gathering dust. Awkwardly poking out here and there. Permanently stuck in the bronze colored urn, the one that sat on mom’s night stand. The one that seems to have more of a story than it lets on.
Fake flowers are better than real flowers I think. It takes a hundred years to fade their color. But they are faithfully there. From afar they might elude an onlooker to think they are fresh. They don’t wilt, turn brown or dry up. Fake flowers stay there, from year to year, smiling at you with their false virility.
I guess I could say that the only real flowers I actually do like are the ones that stay in the ground. The perennial kind. I can handle their death, because they come back every year. I especially like tree flowers. They are so dependable every spring. Forsythia, crab apple and apple blossom. Delicious blossoms that will fall beautifully to the ground and be replaced with leaves and begin again the next spring.
I want to like the real flowers that you get from a store. Or the kind that your boyfriend brings home to you when they’ve screwed up. Every time they have such a promising beginning. Delicate petals, warm and bright colors. They offer life in your dim little apartment. But sure as day, they begin to fade, to soften, to die. Those little moments of hope soon become a constant reminder that all things come to an end. And because I’m a terrible housekeeper, they sit on my counter for a week or two as a depressing reminder.
Recently, I was talking to a friend at a little place called “It’s a Grind” which serves kind of off-tasting coffee and sells paintings on the wall that are mass-produced. Somehow we justify going there because they sell “free-trade coffee” even though I probably couldn’t adequately describe what the hell that means. We sat and discussed our most recent whoas. She was dating a married man, who was in the process of getting a separation. My grandma had just died and I was feeling a little numb.
In our conversation, I began to think about those static fake flowers that sit on my dresser. When things get hard, you feel things that you wish wouldn’t touch you. Regret, lack of control, deep heartache and real pain. I said to my friend that I feel so alive when I feel those things. That if I didn’t have the reaction that I did, I wouldn’t really be living.
Fake flowers have no life. But I fear the moment when those real ones start to fade. I hate the sight of them needing to be thrown out, yet dreading all the dried up leaves falling off and crushing into your carpet. Lately I’ve been struggling with the idea of death. Would I prefer for life to be like fake flowers? No feeling, no growth. But besides a slight color fade from the sun, existing as long as they can withstand decomposition in a landfill? Yet with that, there would be no wilting and no predictable and required death.
© 2011 D. Willson