Sunday, May 15, 2011

you taught me the names of the stars overhead that I wrote down in my ledger

Spring in Chicago is always an uncertain affair, but this year warmth seems especially reluctant to show up, much less stick around. When I moved here almost seven long years ago—and how did it get to be that many years? Most of my adult life?—I was sort of fascinated by how apparent the seasons were. There is such a distinct difference between not only fall and winter but early fall, late fall, midwinter, early spring… It’s part temperature, part quality of light, part the way the air feels against your skin. And while a day in February feels incredibly different than a day in late December, once spring rolls around I begin to chart things in terms of what’s blooming around me.

And so I can tell you: crocuses are so last month, daffodils are toast, tulips are on the way out. The acacias are blooming, and I saw my first tiny open bud of lilac last week. (They’re going crazy now, scenting the air and so full that the tips of the branches are solid petal.) The dandelions have been blooming merrily for some time. Crabapple and redbud trees are so densely packed with blooms that you can’t even see the branches and forsythia was blazing yellow but now its flowers are littering the sidewalks. spent. Magnolias are hanging on, but the hyacinth were long ago broken under their own weight. And I never realized before that we grow forget-me-not here, but there are clouds of them blooming in people’s yards, blue and tiny and evocative of both simplicity and loss.

For once, my lack of blogging has been less about an inability to write than about a complete lack of the time or energy required to complete a thought. Seriously, April and May have been full-on, balls-to-the-wall insane. I went from working barely part-time to working full time and sometimes a little more; I performed in two concerts, did publicity for five, and attended at least that many; I moved. Again. It’s been a whirlwind, and I feel like I haven’t drawn a full breath in at least four weeks. What this month has pounded into my head is this: I’m very serious about the things I do for a living. This sounds sort of silly, given that I’ve been a florist for more than three years now and I’ve been playing music since I was about eleven, but in retrospect I’ve been treating these things more as happy accidents than as intentional and evolving parts of my life, serious endeavors that deserve my fullest attention.

It’s not that I took these things non-seriously before, I guess. Especially with music, it would have been impossible for me to do what I do without some pretty major effort happening. But there’s been some sort of shift lately—I think it’s that these things have gone from being part-time jobs, hobbies, to being constants. I chart the seasons, not just spring but all of them, in terms of what flowers I’m seeing in my shop and in the streets and gardens; I thought to myself today that I need to spend some time practicing scales this summer, something I haven’t done since finishing grad school five years ago. (Ouch, say both my fingers and my ears.) This is some serious business, in other words. And as such, it behooves me to know my shit, to know what I’m talking about, to execute things well. Which is super awesome, but is also part of why I feel so tired this month. Doing things well is hard. Worth it, but hard.

But it’s good, and I’m just going to keep on keepin’ on, as they say. Practice my scales, and read books about roses. Water my plants. Watch the season’s progression, and dream about next year’s music. And good god, sleep, once May ends.