A Tale of Two Tulips

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hSnow still covers the ground, but the tulips are out in full force at the grocery stores. Tilted buckets spill over with vibrant bouquets, repeating rainbows of mixed hues. Those prim tulip buds always catch my eye. They’re so self-contained and demure, but destined to fling open petals in a bawdy display of extravagance. Who can resist?

So, a week or so ago, I wound up with two different bouquets of tulips. I placed one in a vase in the kitchen and the other in the family room.

In the kitchen, the bouquet of purple tulips remained upright day after day, retaining pursed buds and straight stems. From a distance they exuded vitality, but as the days passed, a closer view revealed petals and stems with brown and crumpling edges. They never opened, simply drying and then dying in that nascent state.

In contrast, the mixed tulips grew more and more undisciplined in the family room. The prim buds transformed into bold and blowsy blossoms. Only slightly contained by their glass vase, they sprawled in a burst of color, stems akimbo, petals flung wide revealing previously hidden centers with new, unexpected splashes of color. Then, bit by bit they scattered soft petals onto the table below.

The contrast between these two bouquets struck me and turned my thoughts to aging.  We are a culture that values youth, the budding potential of tulips. Yet, there’s clearly something off in a bunch of tulips that doesn’t fully bloom: Though each purple bud retained its “youthful” air, its potential was never realized. The buds never transformed, and we’ll never know what color lay hidden beneath those tightly furled petals.

I wonder if, when we seek so hard to cling to the vestiges of youth, we avoid the glorious blossoming as well, in all its potential messy exuberance. Something to keep thinking about…

SOLC 2018–Day 31: Pet Peeves of Aging

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March 2018 SOLC–Day 31
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
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The challenge ends today. I’m another month older, and hopefully another month wiser. This morning after a glance in the mirror at my sleep-creased face, I started thinking about getting older.  Mostly I’m ok with it (I mean the alternatives aren’t great!), but there are a few areas that bug me.

1. Hair. I’m fine with gray hair, but who decided that renegade hairs should start appearing in odd places and grow exponentially?  Even when vigilant about checking, I can find a robust black hair a half inch long protruding from my face or neck. It’s appalling! I can’t help but wonder how many other people have seen that hair and thought, “Gee, I wonder why she doesn’t pluck that?” I’ve already warned my children that I’m going to draw them a map of all the likely spots for those hairs, and when I’m in the nursing home, unaware, it will be their job to pluck them.

imgres-2.jpg2. My skin. Why didn’t I appreciate my skin when it was flexible and smooth?  Now I have thigh skin that cascades over my knees and after four babies, the skin on my stomach resembles that of a sharpei. Sigh. Dimples and dents have replaced peaches and cream.

3. Grooves. I can  handle wrinkles–those character lines that fan out from my eyes or bracket my smile. But who decided to put a canyon between my eyebrows? Actually, it’s two canyons!  Do I really frown that much or constantly furrow my brow?  I think I’m generally a happy person, but these deep, abiding frown lines make me doubt myself. And what’s up with that new charming horizontal line between my upper lip and nose?images.jpg

4. Changes in Memory. I swear I spend half my time continuing to walk down hallways or into rooms hoping that I’ll see something that will jar the memory of my original intent. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it doesn’t. And don’t even get me started on word retrieval! Thank God I now have a trove of slices that can remind me what happened during this past month.

Writing about memory, reminded me of an aging-related poem I wrote a few years ago. Ending with that seems like the perfect segue from this month’s challenge to Poetry April.

Happy Writing and thanks to all for a most memorable month!

The Battle

There once was a hair on my chin
undetected when first it grew in
I noticed it there
Adrift in the air
And yanked it out with great chagrin.

Another one grew on my cheek.
(It happened in less than a week!)
I pulled that one too
without great ado
But with a full bellicose shriek.

It’s said that in some far-flung places
Facial hair adorns women’s faces
But I can’t sport a ‘stache
with elan or panache
I vow to remove any traces.

My tweezers now flash through the air
Extracting each invading hair
There is not a thing cute
’bout my face so hirsute
I battle with growing despair.

Each day my reflection as mirrored
Shows renegade hairs have appeared
My expression is grim
As I tweeze and I trim
Not resigned to displaying a beard.

I continue the gods to implore
to vanquish these whiskers galore
They’re more apt to dispatch
A peach-fuzzy soul patch
I win battles but never the war.

Molly Hogan (c) 2016