Why is a woman like a hollyhock?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I write this blog.
A friend once said that it’s all nonsense. That my life…no-one’s life is like the pages of this blog, all sunshine and lovely images and happy outcomes. I think the words he used were, “get real.”
Real? Real is where I have to be and real hurts. Real is life and all the messes and sadness and miscommunications and spelling mistakes and loud, angry run-on sentences.
But translate that to this space, to these few thoughts per post and suddenly there’s spellcheck and censoring and run-on sentences become poetry and this whole massive unstructured expanse of problems in front of me becomes a myopic view into a small but lovely part of that massive unstructured expanse; a place to focus, a sanctuary.
These past few days I’ve printed some lovely prints and got the hang of printing. But I’ve also had two nuclear meltdowns, cried myself to sleep, spent several sleepless nights listening for the slightest noise and generally waited for something to happen, had arguments with my love and been completely emotionally unstable, headachy and probably hell to live with.
Lately, each day dawns as this massive expanse of problems.
The Oxfordshire saga:
– Some of you know that my beautifully restored mini, which has been stolen almost a year ago, will most likely never be returned. Robert’s work of love to me. A £500 shell we restored to a £5000 thing of beauty. And nothing can be done.
– Robbie says let’s build a new mini, a new cherished car, but to me it’s like trying to replace one’s beloved pet, I know that doesn’t translate quite as well as I’d like it to, and I know, I KNOW, it’s just a thing/possession/meaningless in the big – I’m healthy, Robbie, my children, mother, loved ones are healthy – scheme of things, but, no matter how hard I try to adjust, to wrap my brain around the concept of a beautiful new mini, I just can’t seem to go there right now and I can’t seem to let it go either. I am trying.
– There are very few external forces here. The phone isn’t ringing, workmen aren’t coming and going, there are no meetings; it’s a very quiet country life. The quiet becomes wildly uncontrollable in my mind.
– The house is still in restoration mode, way behind the time line restoration mode, and, as much as I’m the client and make all the decisions, Chloe is there, on site, living with the mess and displacement and temporary loss of our serene space, and having to handle it.
– Most early mornings British time, C calls needing a talk and support. It’s evening in Vancouver, C’s had to deal with a multitude of uncomfortable things, and things are not easy for my girl, and, as much as I want to talk to her and offer as much support as I can, I’m concerned that she’s not wanting to wake us up so waits till 6:30am-ish to call, which means it’s already 10:30pm-ish in Van, which means that before she feels better and manages to get to sleep it’s practically midnight, which means her tomorrow is going to be twice as hard for lack of a proper night’s sleep.
– Then, when C finally gets to sleep, I’m grateful that we could help her calm down but it’s my morning and she stays on my mind all day till 5pm-ish British time/morning Vancouver time, when she wakes up and I hear from her again.
– Switching from Vancouver to Oxfordshire and back again in my thoughts and worries is exhausting.
– I’ve been out of touch with Kerstie and Jonathan and I miss them so much it hurts.
My shrink tells me to focus on what makes me happy. At the time she said it, I wasn’t doing much art and nothing I could think of made me happy. She advise I do something creative every day…it’s almost impossible for me to make myself do something creative if I want to be in a dark place. It’s very hard to climb back into the sunshine if I let myself fall down the hole of depression and it takes days and days. So I force myself to pick up the camera and at least take some photos every day and sometimes specifically for a blog post. As time goes on and I start to feel better, I can pick up the pencils and brushes and do more.
A couple days ago I sketched a hollyhock flower on a page of the old dictionary while I was talking to Chloe, who was feeling poorly with some 24 hour bug and was worried about her health and going to work and workmen and students and her last year of uni…etc. I talked to her off and on for over two hours and I completely overworked the hollyhock.
Overworked it to mud.
And then I hated myself for doing that, because I should be able to draw a hollyhock in my sleep, and I felt useless as an artist.
I showed Robbie and he said, “maybe deepen the colours?” And I made a motion like I was ready to rip it into two pieces, and he said, “No, don’t do that. How are you going to realise what you label the good without having a reference to what you label the bad?” He had a good point. He always does. And so I put the drawing on the dresser to look at it afresh in the morning.
The thing is I wanted to draw it on the page of the dictionary that had the word hollyhock on it, but I didn’t remember I sketched Theo on the other side of that page, making that page unusable, and so I drew it on the page which had the word woman. The one precious page of the dictionary that had the word woman. (No I don’t know why I think this is the last ever old dictionary I’ll ever find to sketch in.)
I chose that page specifically. To me, the hollyhock has always been a strong representation of a woman more than any other flower. I know all the romantic notions of fragile flowers such as roses or lilies for women, but what good are they? What good is vulnerability or fragility even in the most beautiful package? No, give me a hollyhock any day. Hollyhocks are not susceptible to too many diseases, they bend in the strongest gale without breaking, and, drop something on them, suppress them with a ton of weight, they will seed and carry on in a new location as shiny and as beautiful and as tall as before.
So I’m looking at my overworked sketch on the page which says woman and thinking how absolutely accurately I portrayed myself right now. It hasn’t gotten any better over night, or even over three days, even with the wind blowing it off the dresser and onto the floor several times, but I have grown to love my little flower. No matter how many times this week the wind has blown me over, I’m still standing just like the hollyhock, trying to bloom with all that pressure on me, and, with time, the tears will stop, the weight will slide off and life will be sunny again.