#14. Flowers On My Desk

On Wanting to be Red Riding Hood

Dear Reader,

This one is short, for no good reason. And it is rambly, also for no good reason.

I bought flowers this week. A huge bunch, lilac and white in colour with long brittle stems. When I picked them up, I asked the guy at the flower shop to trim the stems —the mugs I planned on resting the flowers on were not tall enough. They’ve been sitting on my desk for five days now, surprisingly still bright as ever. 

There’s not much to say about these flowers, yet I feel like they need to be spoken about. At the flower shop, I wondered at a stretch if I looked gullible. Me, in my slickly tied up striped top with waves of hair resting on my shoulders and back — I definitely must have looked gullible. So maybe, I think, those flowers sitting there on my desk along with some apples and a half-eaten bowl of grapes in the fridge represent the gullibility of my personhood. 

Perhaps the flower shop guy could see through me. A girl fluttering on the third day of January, looking to put flowers on her desk and fresh fruits in her kitchen. Adjusting her life to a certain level of beauty before she begins to live it. Sometimes I think that the closest I came to being myself was the time Amma made me dress up like Red-Riding Hood for a fancy dress competition. When in the midst of the scurrying of parents hunting down their children backstage, Noreen Ma’am came up to me and said, “you’re red riding hood, you need more blush on your cheeks.” 

I heavily agreed. With my basket of fake fruits, I ran to Amma, forcing her to pull out the makeup box and put more pink blush on my cheeks. Noreen Ma’am said I need more blush. I’m Red Riding Hood — I have to carry a basket of fruits to my grandmother, I have to intend to live out a mundane day when a wolf attacks me. I must be in the quest for the ordinary when interesting just happens to me. 

It’s a frivolous idea of a life. One that made me want to wash my dirty laundry, squeeze them, and clip them on a drying rack before writing this edition. Some major internal mobilisation directed me to want to write this from the backdrop of a laundry-free, surf-excel-smelling, clean bathroom. There is a strain of sadness and love that runs through the very act of living, and possibly I think, if I clean my bathroom and write about it enough, I can turn it into something else. There’s a chance that I'll manage to collect the crumb-like thoughts in my mind and turn them into a concrete loaf that can be chewed on. 

It’s delicately tiring to live in constant search for good words and art. To want to constantly be well-read, well-dressed, and in the company of living flowers on your desk. What if, I wonder, I wake up tomorrow and see that the flowers had been dying for days and I just hadn’t noticed. What will I do when they die? Am I making the most of them while they are alive? I don’t know, I really don’t know. 

I wrote in my journal the other day — “don’t be too invested in this idea of flowers as self-love” and I was right. They’re scapegoats of me trying to prove that the life I have is legit, a sure-thing that I will live and rest in. That even though I haven’t read any new sentence that resonated with me for a while, I’m still living some version of that beautiful life. 

It’s like when Rodrigo from Mozart in the Jungle tells Hailey, “There was one moment, and then there was another that felt different…” The flowers on my desk was me hanging close to the moments I like, not wanting to embrace the difference, but still allowing it to kindly sit next to me, please. 

Or like when Sheila Heti wrote “Then to try and discover and live my values, even if it may not seem like I’m moving forward, while my friends appear to be moving forward in theirs -- ticking off all the boxes. Ask only whether you are living your values, not whether the boxes are ticked.” 

I suspect that with all that I have on stuck on me, the flowers on my desk are for now the best things I own. That and the song Secrets by One Republic are enough things to have in life. 

Happy New Year to all of you. Like Moira Rose says, may we all have ‘courage’ this year. ( I sincerely hope you read the word in her voice and accent.)

Thank you for reading.