The familiar chirp of my phone indicating the presence of a text distracted me from my usual Saturday domesticity. Opening the message revealed a photo image of cut hydrangea, blue in color, and spilling haphazardly out of the vase and the border of the face of my phone. “Here,” the message read, “I cut these from my garden and wanted to share them with you.” “Dude, I have crazy flowers all over my garden and still I buy cut flowers from the farmers market for my yard because I cannot bear to cut them…what does this SAY about me?
Later that day, I trimmed my hydrangea and brought the big beautiful blue spheres of happiness right into my bedroom. It was positively liberating.
I was reminded of Prufrock. I grow old I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Do I dare? Do I dare to eat a peach? Do I dare to live my life? Do I dare to approach this new empty nest phase with courage and valor? Do I dare to greet the students preparing to return to campus with openness, honesty, and vulnerability? Do I dare to admit to my colleagues that every year as August approaches I become aware of fear? This year made more melancholy by the “fly…fly, baby bird” departure of my daughter?
Sharing a cupcake at Guglhupf Bakery (if you haven’t experienced it, do so. Right now!) and a coffee, my daughter and I talked about daring. With her hand on the knob of my front door, preparing to exit my home and enter college, I had this “wait, wait….there’s one more thing I want to tell you” moment. “Honey, you know how often I talk to you about being safe?” “Yes, mom.” “Well, I sorta want you to throw all that out the window and consider it the ranting of a lunatic parent. “ Note I said “sorta.” I wonder about the hidden costs of overemphasizing safety to our daughters, in particular. Today, at this moment over an Amy Tornquist cupcake, let’s forget safety and let’s talk about daring, courage, and coloring outside the lines.
Take some risks. Be uncomfortable. Screw up. Try some things. I am a living testament to an overdose of safety. Don’t be like me. Cautious…measured…appropriate. Be like you. Unapologetic, brash “I can do this” attitude that is all you. For the love of all that is Holy and at least Botannical, cut your damn Hydrangeas. Bring them in the house, bugs and all. Let them shed and drop their petals on your floor. Cut them and enjoy them in your house while you grieve they’re leaving your yard. Do it all. Eat that peach. She got it, of course, having grown up in Durham and frequenting the Cosmic Cantina, she grew up reading T.S. Elliot on the stairs of the Cosmic Cantina, home of the cheap and super fantastic burritos.