“I outgrew another relationship and all I got was this lousy flower vase.”
Not all relationships last, but we are often left with remnants of our failed forgings. Whether through birthday cards or photos or pebbles you swiped from that beach while on vacation, we are surrounded by made memories. Most of these keepsakes can be stowed away and sit silently in the dark, waiting for those inevitable urges of reminiscing to surface. Others, however, are less adaptive.
Last Valentine’s day, I received a special delivery at work. My boyfriend surprised me with a teddy bear and bouquet of roses. While the arrangement was beautiful, the vase they were spilling from was just as decorative and festive. And while I don’t consider Valentine’s day a holiday by any means, when you’re young and in love, you’ll seize every opportunity to celebrate it.
We broke up two months later.
The truth is, the relationship was rocky long before this and maybe that even somewhat inspired the generous gift, I’ll never know for sure. And maybe it should have been a sign that I never brought myself to take the vase home from work after the flowers had long since wilted. And once the relationship had finally withered away itself, I was left with this memento of a vase.
Some time passed, and there it sat. In the same spot. Empty. Judging. It’s one of those gifts, though, that is so totally beyond redemption. There’s no way I could use it for another suitor’s flowers and come out unscathed.
So I decided to lean into the love that was this vase. Love of chemistry, that is. I decided to re-purpose it for an arrangement of a different kind. Now it sits proudly at my desk, full again. And every now and then, when I catch a glimpse of the bouquet I made myself, I think, that’s pretty beautiful too.