My girlfriend is kind of particular. She likes flowers but not the kind that grow in the ground. She makes her own. From scratch. When it comes to plant life, I guess you could say she’s DIY, which I don’t mind. Saves me a few bucks. I never say anything about her flowers, even though the idea of them kind of freaks me out. Think about it: who has flowers growing out of their bellies? It’s not normal, right? I mean I get it that she wants to know where the flowers come from. Fine. No pesticides involved. OK. I’m as green as the next guy. But does she have to really grow her own flowers in her body? I haven’t asked her to explain it—not yet–but if we stay together, I’m going to have to ask some questions. Right? I mean, it’s cool and all. It’s a talent, and I’m trying to be supportive. But…
OK, look even if I could get over the fact that my girlfriend is her own fucking greenhouse, there’s something else I haven’t mentioned yet: I think she uses the flowers as messages. They’re silent but packed with meaning—I’m sure of that.
For example, today is the day after Valentine’s Day. To mark the occasion, I tried to stretch my gift-giving skills a little. Besides not being into store-bought flowers, my girlfriend is allergic to chocolate, so I bought her a little teak gift box. She likes things made out of wood and thankfully, she doesn’t try to make her own. In the box, I put a story I wrote for her. It’s not great. But I wanted to give her something personal, something I made. The story is about a picture of a woman and about the photographer who took it even though for some reason, he can’t remember who the woman is or when he took her photo. He knows he has a connection to her, but that’s it. So he wakes up every morning hoping that he will one day remember who the woman is. The story is a metaphor for relationships. You’re with someone but you can’t know her—not really. But still you feel there’s a connection, so you spend your life waiting and hoping that you will know her one day. I don’t know. Maybe I’m over thinking it, which I’ve been known to do from time to time.
Which leads me back to my flower-making girlfriend.
Yesterday, she woke up and gave me the look. It’s this focused expression—almost like pain except it isn’t. She was about to bloom or spout or hatch a flower—I’m not sure which verb she likes best. I thought it was going to be a sunflower. Lately, sunflowers have been a favorite of hers. I like sunflowers and hers are especially big and yellow, which is nice. I’ll say this for her, she’s a craftswoman.
She told me once that she wanted to come up with something new. Something you couldn’t find in nature. She’s a creative, so it’s natural that she’s going to want to do her own thing eventually. But she didn’t mention it again, and I forgot about her comment until yesterday. I got up early right when she started hatching or sprouting and was wrapping her present when at some point, I smelled something so awful I thought I’d stepped in shit except that I was barefoot and hadn’t been outside yet. It wasn’t just putrid. It wasn’t just awful. It came in wave after wave, stubborn and…well, I thought I was going to puke to be honest. I looked around the kitchen. I thought something went off. Then I looked in the bathroom, thinking the sewage line backed up. But there was nothing wrong in the house. It was my girlfriend and her original flower from hell.
She walked up to me, plucked the thing out of her mouth like she always does, and then, with a little Ta-Dah, she put the flower in my hand and went to shower. She didn’t say anything else. She didn’t ask me my opinion, which I’m glad for. After she got dressed, we had breakfast—a very quiet breakfast. Then I gave her my story and the little box and she smiled, kissed me and went to work. That was it. That was our Valentine’s Day morning.
Last night, she didn’t come home. She said she had go see her sister—I think her sister’s boyfriend broke things off or something. I was a little distracted when she called, so I’m hazy on the details. To be honest, I was still looking at her ugly flower and wondering what I was going to do with it. I wanted to throw it away, but that’s kind of rude. I decided to put it outside on the back stoop, but even so, the smell is strong.
Look, if it was just a bad present, that’d be ok. Who knows? Maybe my girlfriend doesn’t really like my story and maybe she thinks the little teak box I gave her was useless. It’s pretty small now that I think of it. What can you do with a tiny teak box, anyway? But at least it doesn’t seem like a symbol for anything—other than a boyfriend’s lame attempt to be original. An ugly shit-smelling flower—that, on the other hand, has a lot of potential symbol power, and I can’t see how the symbol could be very good.
A flower is never just a flower, right? There’s a reason she gave it to me. There has to be.