I used to think flowers were bullshit. And by “used to” I mean 15 years of my life were shrouded in flower cynicism.
During my early dating years, I instructed boyfriends to adhere to my flower rules. Don’t apologize with them and don’t express love with them. Got it?
Perhaps these flower rules seem harsh, but I had my reasons. If petals faded, wilted, then fell to the ground within 3-5 days…how was that tragic performance a symbol of eternal love? How did the cheapest bouquet from the chain grocery store serve as a relationship peace treaty?
One day I was forced to abandon my flower cynicism. Mr. H gave me an irresistible bunch of flowers for our 11-year anniversary.
He kissed me and said: “Don’t be a dick. Happy anniversary.” (Side note…we call each other dicks all the time in this house. It’s our time-out phrase.)
Mr. H and his floral-scented purple, yellow, and green accomplices tugged at my heart strings a little. Okay, a lot.
I started to see flowers differently. They didn’t die, they were reborn. They gave everything to the world, then returned to the earth. They carried the beauty and wisdom that comes with living vibrantly and generously into a new life.
The final departure of my flower cynicism happened when I moved to Rose City five years ago. Roses thrive here, unapologetic about their brazen beauty and their pungent perfume. Recently Mr. H and I moved into a house rental and I was gifted the most glorious bouquet of all…a yellow rose bush in my front yard.
Yellow roses are my secret favorite flower. When I see their unique life force, my heart can’t help but get over itself and open up.
Mr. H put a yellow rose into an old wine bottle and I watched it begin its steady, inevitable decline. I wasn’t sad. I knew that rose had lived its fullest life by giving all of its beauty and wisdom to the world.
A ten-year-old ballet student tip-toes onto the stage at the end of a 2-hour performance. The applause is deafening as she offers the bouquet of roses to her idol, her teacher and the prima ballerina.
The ballet student thrusts the bouquet into the ballerina’s sweaty, sparkly hands. Her tiara is blinding beneath the spotlight. The ballerina hugs her young student closely, crushing her tutu between them, disregarding her rumpled costume and the inky mascara streaming down her face.
I’ve learned that flowers are the witnesses of life’s most touching moments. Looking back, I’ve always known this. But I was afraid of losing these moments. I knew they would disappear—fade, wilt, and fall back into the earth.
Now I put in the work to appreciate life’s most touching moments as they happen. And I cherish them later, as memories rise up like the sun and wash over the petals of my mind. Perhaps I was a flower in another life and I’m just beginning to open up.
For those of you who have been following my blog this year, as you may have concluded, my Real Life Fiction series has run its course. This creative experiment was a way for me to share experiences in a fiction writing format.
I felt like the third-person account created an unnecessary barrier, and I’m back to telling life stories the way I used to. As myself, for better or worse.
Lastly, I want to encourage you to check out one of my all-time favorite author interviews. Victoria Dougherty is a fellow author extraordinaire and a solid friend. She and I had an amazing no-BS conversation about love and fiction, something we share in common with our work.
You can find the interview, Talking Love and Fiction With a Life Enthusiast, over at Victoria’s exceptionally lovely blog.
We know that marriage is a partnership and we worked our asses off to hold onto our love. We know that we wouldn’t still be here in this life if we hadn’t found, loved, and saved each other. Our love drives my fiction forward—and some version of me and Mr. H. are always the main characters.
18 thoughts on “Abandoning My Flower Cynicism for Good”
Flowers fade and wilt, some faster than others. I guess everything has its life span. Even people.
Indeed. Flowers remind me of people for some reason. Nature and human nature are all connected though, so it makes sense.
It seems that roses are an ’embarrassment of riches’ while also reminding us of our mortality. They seem such a contrast to the humble ‘lily of the field’ but not really. Both speak volumes through their beautiful ‘silence’. How lucky to have a whole rose bush to inhale each summer. I’m glad you caved to Mr. H and his romantic gestures. You deserve it! XO
Roses can be bastards too. I forgot to mention that! Those thorns got me a few times, including on my way in and out of the gate right next to them. Snagged a skirt somewhere in there.
The rose bush has been so nice to have. We have fresh jasmine and lavender as well that we have been sniffing with great joy.
Can’t take credit for any of it. Thankfully, our landlords had such strong gardening game. We are tasked with keeping everything alive!
such a pretty reminder of how we should live: enjoying the moment as is. with its beauty and side effects.
sending you bouquets of flowers and thoughts from the other side of the ocean.
Thank you, love. These yellow roses in my new front yard have been the pretty reminder I needed to have around in my life. Thanks for the virtual flowers. Right back at ya! xo
So enjoyable, Britt. Even guys enjoy flowers. As a Biology professor I had once told us, “What’s not to like about sex organs.”… Wonderful post.
Guys enjoy flowers too? Perhaps I should surprise Mr. H one of these days. Just seeing his reaction would be worth it.
Such a lovely post, Britt… You and Mr. H. are lucky to have found each other. You sound like a great team.
Makes me miss my partner all the more. I love how you call each other a dick 😉
Off to read the interview now!
Thank you, Dale! We are a pretty damn good team. We do call each other dicks quite often around here. It always makes us smile.
You sure sound like it!
I’ve never been a fan of cut flowers – it seemed a shame to cut them and enjoy them for such a short period of time. I appreciate them more as I get older and it is nice to see a nice arrangement in a vase.
That’s so true. I prefer to leave things in the wild as much as possible. We picked our yellow roses as they were on their way out so we could enjoy them more inside the house.
I love flowers, unabashedly. But I’ve never found the ‘flowers for every occasion’ motto to be true, and certainly I find the best occasion for flowers is Just Because.
We’ve been together 20 years now, and it has taken me this long to realize, my husband likes some flowers, too. He likes lilies. He would come home and say things like, “I looked at flowers. They didn’t have anything good.” It has taken me a long, long time to realize, the ‘good’ flowers are lilies. Peruvian lilies are surely his favorite, but lilies of any kind will inspire him to buy. He’ll buy flowers just for me, especially potted bulbs in the spring, but the lilies I think are for both of us. Haha! Since you’ve been married a hot minute, you know how delightful it is to discover something about someone you think you know EVERYTHING about 😉
Awwww…that’s so cool. I got misty-eyed when you told me that. Thank you for sharing. I have been married a hot minute…14 years for us.
I knew it’d been well over a decade.
I think for some reason when we are young we have a tendency to shy away from things that are too beautiful, wonderful, etc. Something in our nature craves a little bit of imperfection and darkness… Freud was right about that I believe. However, at least for me, I think as we get older and the true harshness and bitterness of the world becomes a reality we begin to crave beautiful things again. 🌺
Beautifully said, JoAnn! As we get older, a childish curiosity is important to hang onto. Unlike when we were children though, we’ve seen more and felt more…which makes us better equipped to handle things in life, both harsh and beautiful.