I’ve been workshopping. Thought I’d share. Normally I would say I came across these in some play by from a French author (say, Fabrice Melquiot) and pass this off as someone else’s. I’ve only every partially done this in my writings–not completely. Wait for my upcoming post on the modern Greek poet C.P. Cavafy. But today I’m ready to be completely honest. If you have something to hide you have nothing to confide. I said that too. Not Stephen Sondheim. (He said something close to that.)
I was helping out with my cousin’s wedding, and they had me go to their florist’s–a friend’s house–to deliver a message. When I got there the door was open. She works from her home. I pushed it all the way and stepped in. Flowers all around, the smell, everything, and she was coming down the stairs. “Sorry,” she said, “Matt told me”–he’s my cousin–“that you were coming. Come on in. Wait. Don’t I know you?” she said. She smiled. “Cathy.” We had met before–at one of his parties. I think I mostly read a book that night, I was pretty drunk. But I guess we had a good little talk–I kinda remember. Anyways she pulled out a stool and set it in the middle of the floor, then kinda looked at me and said, “Do you mind if I sit down?” “Sure,” I said. “What’s the message?” I told her–something about those wristlets–I told her and she pulled out this little notebook and jotted it down. I don’t know why they–I think they just wanted to check up on how things were going. So anyways, I asked her how is everything. With the flowers. And she must have thought I was talking about something else–like not just the wedding because she sat there, lowered her notebook and said, um…tears in her eyes, “Do you ever think there are just more important things you could be doing? These flowers…are pretty. I enjoy doing them. Sometimes I feel as though I enjoy that too much. But teaching And giving–and sacrificing. This,” she said, meaning her flower arrangements, “is just a beautiful thing for one beautiful moment and after that it’s gone. Isn’t that right?” she said. Then she said, “Well…thanks for asking. How’s your family? Oh they just be busy. I’ll have this all ready. It’ll be really beautiful. Oh, and, can I offer you anything to drink? Seven-up?” “Seven-up?” I said. “No I better get back to the house.” But I wish I had stayed. I would have looked at the flowers with her. I would have smelled the room, just for a little longer. You know, flower arrangements, even carved wood, stained glass. All these things around us have a relationship with time. All the beautiful things in the world do. Even the ones we think are lasting. And they’re not–as I used to believe, as probably everyone used to believe–beautiful because they’re ephemeral. I mean that’s part of it–sunsets. My first dog. Right? But every year you spend with a dog, even if it’s just a few years, is the whole of his life. And that counts for something. Just like the goodbye counts. When he dies. It’s in the present. And there’s, there’s a longing too, isn’t there? When I say, “Can I kiss you?” you could say–I could say, “No it won’t matter too much.” But when I step across the room. When I touch your mouth–with mine. It will matter. It will matter that much. Too much for us to keep thinking every beautiful thing will have to go away and if it doesn’t it’s not really beautiful. And you might not feel this way, but when I kiss you, when we kiss, it will matter for that moment and it will someday be something wider, more than just us and our own community of people. And really, can I kiss you?
That’s what I wished I had said to her, to Cathy, who did the flower arrangements.
Have you ever thought about how unfitting the word is when we say something is remarkable? We’re talking about extra life, super-added wonder. There’s a lilt there. We mean everything, but we say that something is worthy only of being remarked on. Unless you belong to the school of thought that–not even naming–observing is all we can do–the most holy thing we can do in this whole universe. But I’m not a scientist. I don’t need particle physics or the string theory or the unhinging of my mind to know you and to tell you, you are very nice. And– And– That I think you are the most beautiful person I’ve ever met. Is that sexist? I love you.