After all the farewells and the bookends what is left? The yellow petals, and the soft light of another afternoon, except this one is missing a certain something, a quality to the light that was there before and now is not. It is like capturing a firefly in a jar, capturing the way the sun streams in through the gauze of the privacy curtains at the windows. The roses were so beautiful; brilliant yellow as if they had been crowned by the brush of Van Gogh. They shone, primary colored, perfectly formed, green leaves and thorns, fluffy garden roses with extravagant heads, propped up untidily my milk jug vase.
The petals had started to fall from the open buds and scatter themselves untidily on the peeling white painted window seat, but I ignored them. I let them sit there and wither, drying in the struggling San Franciscan sun. The roses were staying. I was planning on keeping them there forever, like some demented Miss Havisham-esque figure, mourning the wedding I never had.
Relationships are like cars. You ride in them, they take you places, sometimes good, sometimes not. Occasionally there is a crash, an accident, a wreckless incident. They sometimes go too fast, sometimes crawl along blocked by life’s irritations, those Sunday Drivers of the freeway of love: family, friends, work and hang ups. Sometimes they are lean mean fighting machines, running on that high octane fuel of discord and strain. You just love to hate ’em…you just hate to love them. Sometimes you meet your soul mate. It might not be a super sport with a racing stripe, it might be a Honda Civic with cheeto dust spraying the back seat and the graveyards of fast food meals compacted under seats, but it runs, it gets you where you want to go. You keep it oiled and the radiator full of water. You tend to the tires, and you look after the brakes. The transmission is never treated harshly. You give it a name – love, need, care…US. It never lets you down, this car you both travel in, this means of traversing the gap between YOU and ME.
Sometimes the relationships which are like cars start to lose vital parts. The wheels of resentment start to turn and the rust sets in. I don’t have a car any longer. My Beastie is long since gone – to the scrap I suspect, but I do have a bunch of yellow roses on my window sill, whose petals are starting to fall. The trouble with organic things, is they rot and die. Those flowers were essentially dead the moment they were cut, but what did it matter? They looked alive, and that was the main thing. Appearances are almost everything. If it looks alright, if the surface does not betray signs of decay, then it is easy to ignore and carry on with the day. Everything chugs along, perhaps not running smoothly, but at least getting from A to B, with only minor protest . . . until they day it doesn’t.
What then? Two people in a stationary, stagnant relationship, the tires tread-less, the transmission stuck in first, the radiator overheating, the windshield wipers stuck, but at least it looks alright on the outside, it just isn’t going anywhere. It is all downhill from there – the scrapheap of love beckons. Eventually, overgrown with weeds, melding into the landscape, burnt out and only the hull of what was, remains. Tucked under ripped and moldy seats you might find a greeting card wishing merry christmas, or happy valentines. You might find a childhood photo, perhaps a guitar pick, a used stub from a day out in Disneyland, a receipt for a meal or a pretty bauble – the wasted detritus of something that once was vital and beautiful, but now all the petals have fallen off it, and even in memory it is rusty and tarnished.
The yellow petals had started to tumble onto the floor in messy painted puddles of discarded life. They were turning brown at the edges and crumpling in on themselves.