Dead Roses…. or……

A while ago I made what is my book a major move.  You’ll see in another moment why it doesn’t take much for me to declare something “major,” but then again maybe it’s just alright to find some sort of greatness in small things.  As long as we don’t get obsessive about …. Things.

The thing in point is that, after what amounts to at least a decade, I did away with some dead roses.  Let us first make this a little more substantive than it might appear.  Let us describe the roses in a more meaningful light:  They were dried roses that have been on display as such, resembling an artistic presentation in a lovely little cedar vase.  Before I acted upon the actual dismissing of the roses – art – whatever they are, I considered that act itself.  What exactly am I honoring by keeping them around, however lovingly displayed.  If they are a testimonial for that which is no more, (perhaps like the collection of fresh cut flowers that adorn a cemetery plot, which are going to no good end, most likely, but a hellova sendoff), then it sounds glaringly obvious that their time has come, and long since gone.

When I put thoughts to hands on, or even before that, when I took the time to really look at them, (and with my glasses on, which is most of the time these days as it seems), I was, alas, further enlightened.  They were pitifully dusty, and further ornamented with likewise dusty spiderwebs.  I suppose that’s a Miss Havisham’s Double Whammy.

Now I have to admit I have an uncomfortable relationship with Miss Havisham.  Why, out of all the books we were forced or privileged to read in English classes, the character who stuck with me was the aforementioned Miss Havisham, the aged or deceased (or both at the same time perhaps) not so grande dame in Great Expectations.  (That’s Dickens, if the source escapes you.)  I know there were Pip and Estella, and the old convict sea pirate, or somesuch, but my psyche lodged on Miss Havisham, and I can’t say that sounds like such a good thing.  She was, after all, seemingly ancient and miserable, but I gather she was miserable before becoming ancient, and she rather decided to strap that misery to herself and carry its heavy weight with her for the rest of her life.

I can’t even remember the details, but somehow her beloved was lost to her, must’ve been the day of her wedding, for the centerpiece of her environs became the dining room which was, once upon a time, festooned with gaiety and promise for the event of her wedding to be.  Only something happened, and the wedding didn’t.  At that point, the vital part of her simply ceased to be, and that dining room became her doppelganger, and the cake on the table was never cut, nor disposed of.  That room, and most of the house, actually, became a shrine to the living dead, ribbons of life and light forever relegated to darkness and the realm of curtains of cobwebs.  The bride who never was to be one remained ever in her wedding dress, forever waiting, in terminal living grief.  Time ceased, along with Miss Havisham for all intents and purposes, and dust and decay became the order of the day.  And for all the days to come.  I suppose it’s the perfect description of Entropy, if you want one other than scientific.  (I have always been fascinated by Entropy, which is why I like to photograph old things – buildings and rocks and such.)

The other example of such arrested life spirit that comes to mind was in The Waltons, in the character of one of the Baldwin sisters, (perhaps to my credit, I can’t remember which one, or either of their names, actually, though I could Google them if I were obsessive, and… well…. point taken), who was always pining for her long lost suitor Ashley Longworth.  She does seem to have lived a bit fuller a life than poor Miss Havisham, but she evolved into functional spinsterdom, but always with one hand reaching for the past.  Maybe she was fine with that.  But some form of Entropy had its way with her, too.

And so I came to ponder those roses, given to me years ago by one now so departed, and I wondered what, exactly, is their place.  They’ve passed their prime as art or decor, and seem more a sad monument to what used to be.  They’re hardly anywhere near pretty.  The only pretty they are is pretty much dead.  Time to go.

I think it’s time I found a better subject of expression.  Well, I know, I already have, and it’s in words and photographs and singing and seeing new things and going new places – all that.  But here in the place where I dwell, there sat an arrangement of “dried flowers,” now devolved to Dead Flowers, and they had Miss Havisham’s brand all over them.  Yuck.  And now they reside in the fireplace, awaiting the first fire of the season which I still can’t believe has yet to occur.  Maybe tonight.  Maybe not.  But I did decide I’d “honor” them with a cremation resembling ceremony rather than an ignominious end in the plus size plastic trashbag on the hearth awaiting further contributions.

The part of this little exercise that pokes at me is the connection to a subject I knew I wanted to write about back in December.  Here’s what I wrote to a friend of mine in an email back then:

***

I read an interesting line in a book today, with of course some history behind having the book in my hands, blah blah blah.  The words were from Black Elk Speaks, and the person writing was talking about seeing the old long hairs out on the reservation, (this was back around 1930), how they were disillusioned after the wars and the treatment they had received.  And how they just sat around and “waited for yesterday.”  Oh my, those words cut to my heart and I realized how much time I have spent waiting for yesterday, or hoping for it, and how we must make peace with the fact that yesterday isn’t coming back and how we must make these todays the best they can be, and hope for the tomorrows.  Tough times.  Hard times.  Sad times.  And so we move on.  Don’t know why I’m sharing this with you, but it was a big whack between the eyes today.

***

It was then I knew I wanted to ponder:  Waiting for Yesterday.  There’s a great song in there.  There’s some fabulous essay waiting for flesh to the bone.  I’m hoping I can put it to bed here, because I want to be done with Waiting for Yesterday.  Like Worry, (one of my other, shall we say, less than stellar occupations of a weary mind), it is simply pointless and fails to accomplish much of anything worthwhile.  Except pass the TIME without much to show for it, except maybe high blood pressure or some other bleak malady, and surely there are better things.  Like ART.  And traveling and writing and singing and just Doing Stuff.  Well, shall we say Postive Stuff.  If I’ve learned one thing in dealing with the quirks of the Universe and what it provides, I’d say it’s very important to be specific in manifesting some things, while learning the difference in letting go of others.  Sometimes it all ends up in a wad like clothes in the dryer.  Time to sort it all out.  Without worrying!

And so, today, I sent away some dead roses.  I don’t even need to capitalize them anymore, give them any more attention than what they got over the last YEARS.  I figure I’m worth four dollars a week to buy myself a fresh bunch of flowers and fill that space with color and at least a little fresher life, and then move them on before dust and cobwebs become their mantle.  It’s time to honor Today, and the possibilities inherent in Tomorrow, and let the dead and dusty go to the light.  I don’t have the time to wait any longer for Yesterday, as if I ever did.  Like Miss Havisham’s false lover, and Miss Emily’s long lost suitor, (and yes, I did look it up – no comment), they, and it, are not coming back.  Put it on the pyre, and set the match to it.

Don’t get me wrong – there are things to HONOR about Yesterday, but Honor and *Life Support* are entirely different beasts.  (*Or you can insert Obsession, Fantasy, Mental Illness….. that ilk.)  I honor the Love and support my mother has given me every day of her life, and mine.  Ditto my friends.  Even some dogs and a couple of cats.  I wish we would honor History a little more so we wouldn’t keep doing the same old horrible things to each other on the planet.  (That, by the way, is a Political Blog and not the direction I wish to take here, and you don’t want to get me started…….)

I may be further inspired by Waiting for Yesterday, but I’m sure there are more pertinent things to attend to.  Somehow the concept of Creating Beauty easily trumps Serving Entropy.  I might chronicle it, but I’m sure not going to keep feeding it, at least not on my nightstand.  I think a little bunch of Alstroemerias will suit me much better.  I can’t wait to get to the store.  Meantime, I arm myself with the necessary implements, and begin to tilt at the Dust Windmills, and I think I’ll sing.  Dulcinea……..

And even with the first fire of the season, all this still seems a little sad.  I suppose that’s to be expected.  But in that image of those roses in the fire, they are far “prettier” than their last stand in the cedar vase.  I suppose that’s how it is with memories sometimes.  We forget the dust and the cobwebs, (and how they make us sneeze), and remember how those roses smelled….. too long ago.  And how they looked, when love was new, before the dust started to collect.

And we sing our hearts out for Dulcinea, who was never really there. Except, perhaps, in our imagination.

As someone said, Peter O’Toole did alright with this, and it provides characters to the story, but for sheer magnificence of voice, no one could do it like Richard Kiley, my favorite Don Quixote:

 

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7 Responses to “Dead Roses…. or……”

  1. Such a beautiful essay!! One I will keep and re-read. Thanks for the inspiration and the wisdom.

  2. P.S. Love the photos too…

    • queeniesays Says:

      Thanks, Maria. I’m glad you thought it beautiful, for it seemed a little maudlin to me when I kept thinking about it later. Maybe winter’s getting to me. Even decided to add those clips of Dulcinea at the end to tie in the fantasy/reality theme. Ah…. Dulcinea. I don’t know of a more beautiful love song, and it’s one of those that sweeps me away. Me and Don Quixote, ever tilting at windmills and singing from our souls to a love that cannot be embraced. And now, I suppose that’s quite enough of that!

      Not so pretty pictures, really, but they were there to flesh out the words. I so appreciate your reading.

  3. Bravo…BRAVO Lex!!!! You have followed your own true self and voice on this one. My goodness what a pleasure it is to read and to see the pictures too, that you made of this one particular and poignant journey. I am so very pleased for you and blessed by your sharing. Thank you. It is an extra special joy for me to know you well and to feel your own self and the ways that YOU are through your writing, because you write in the very way that you express yourself through your voice. I think that is a special gift. I think that is a very special gift. I love it and thank you for having the courage to share yourself this way.

    • queeniesays Says:

      Wow, thanks. I was a little worried about this one. I had to decide it was alright to acknowledge a little sadness, rather than putting on that Super Woman cape, (you know the one), and go out all big and bold. I didn’t feel big and bold yesterday. I felt humbled by it all, and yet still grateful to be here, no matter what the flavor of the day. To hear this from YOU means a lot. More than a lot. I am humbled, again, and grateful, still, to be your friend. And I don’t know if it’s courage or madness, but me and Don Quixote just have to keep singing, and tilting. After all, he’s the one who championed The Impossible Dream!

  4. I can only mirror what Kathleen says….BRAVO!!!…I am blessed by your courageous sharing. Thank you!!

  5. Mary Margaret Says:

    Yes, I agree completely with all of the comments made by your friends. A poignant essay. The roses in the fire were so beautiful , both languishing on the wood waiting and burning on fire of our imaginations . It’s good to have symbolisms of closure….of being able to see the beauty as well as the folly of our own lives tilting toward the windmills. Richard Kiley singing….it brought me to tears….cleansing tears.

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