One of the roses at my house quite decayed.

Making Room

Roses budding in my front flower bed
These roses budded in my front flower bed back in June

For many, summer is about love: summer romances, May and June weddings, long days stretching out and giving the day that last gasp of diffuse light before the night is quickly upon you, thought not long to stay. I don’t know what this says about me, but I’ve never been one for love in the summertime. I typically find myself falling in love in the fall. I don’t know if it’s autumn breezes chasing the muggy sullenness of August or whether I associate fall with new school years, even nine years removed from attaining my degree. It’s just where I am.

I’ve spent time this summer chronicling the roses that grow in my front flower bed, arcing near and sometimes over my walkway. 1 Part of that is to provide an affront to my current state of employment. These are interesting test subjects to break out of the concert photography that is my bailiwick, and hell, they’re convenient.

Two roses in full bloom, viewed from behind.
These blooms were fully developed when I took these photos in the second week of June.

I was encouraged by a few—Nick chief among them—to avoid clichéd shots. This explains the handful I shot from behind.

In the same vein, I’ve been thinking about my reception to loving and being loved a bit differently of late. Like many a single male, I’ve fallen into the “if I get married, I’ll feel complete and be content” thought trap. Instead, I’ve focused on preparing myself a bit for the eventuality2 by thinking about what I need to do in a relationship, how I need to be. If I can focus on being secure in myself despite my circumstances—and if the last ten months of my life have taught me anything, it’s that I can be happy with who I am and who I wish to become despite shitty circumstances—then I can be surprised at the wonderfulness of love when it abounds. I believe that it would be nice to know just who I am before I try to introduce anyone else to that person.

One of the roses at my house quite decayed.
This is one of the roses from the second shot 13 days later.

When I posted the decay picture on Facebook, one of my former colleagues told me that I needed to deadhead the roses. I was unfamiliar with the concept, but it’s pretty simple: once decay has set in, trim the stem right behind the bud. Doing so prevents the decay process from progressing down stem to the branches below it. I gave it a shot, and after a few days, the bush—well, it’s not a hedge-like bush, but more something you’d tie to a trellis3—began growing like crazy4. The progress frankly shocked me. Two weeks after that growth was fully found, I’ve got a couple of roses already bloomed and a half-dozen buds ready to open in the next couple of days. I’m excited to see it.

As I deadheaded a friend’s rosebush today5, I looked at the dead blooms and their stems. I saw that the oldest of them had exhibited the most decay down the stem and into the larger branch structure below it. The older the bloom, the more woody the stem was: brown, inflexible, brittle. As I snipped away, I got to thinking about my past history. The more firmly I hold on to what once was, the worse shit gets. I’ve only been the one to end a relationship once6, and I usually fight the end with everything within me. I think that’s probably because I equate the end of a relationship to my self-worth. I’m hoping that I can see a breakup differently now, because my thinking about myself is quite different these days.

These new roses should go somewhere other than the half-liter Mexican Coke bottle I used to hand them off to the neighborhood coffeeshop where I spend a lot of time these days. Those roses lasted longer in the store than their homebound compatriots did. I need to keep snipping the decayed relationships out of my life and focus on the opportunity I’ve got ahead of me. I’m as ready as I can get right now.

  1. I recently fixed the “over” with a few bamboo stakes, one metal stake for the base, and some jute twine. It’s redneck gardening at its finest, but I’ve pulled the base branches into the sunshine. The twine is no longer fully taught, and I may be able to remove the staking in time for dormancy. 

  2. Dear God, I hope it’s an eventuality. 

  3. I would trellis it, but doing so violates the termite bond on the homeowners’ association. The same bond requirements took out the tree that used to shade my bedroom window. Alas. 

  4. That growth prompted the redneck staking project. I went home for Dad’s birthday and came back two days later to find my walk half obscured by mutant branches already curving away from it to get to the sunlight. 

  5. Hey Jon, that was my handiwork. I found myself needing to do something outside this morning. My snips were handy, so I zipped over. I’m sure I sent Dante and Rosie into a tizzy. 

  6. She and I are friends. She calls me her favorite ex-boyfriend. Knowing about a few of her ex-‘s, I think that may be damning with faint praise.