In honor of National Pride month (thanks, President Obama!), I am posting this piece inspired by a dear friend and the color pink. The prompt for this piece came from a recent retreat in Forestville. The theme was Japan, and I gave everyone a Japanese Cherry blossom and a copy of this:
Cherry blossoms are the flowers most beloved by the Japanese.
Flower viewing was a phenomenon that the Japanese adopted from China. Poets, singers, aristocrats and members of ordinary households would come together to gather around cherry blossom trees and appreciate their beauty.
The Japanese observed the life cycle of the cherry blossom tree and drew connections between the nature of the blossoming tree and human life in general.
The cherry blossom tree is known for its short yet brilliant blooming season, which ends with an inevitable fall to the ground.
Fallen blossoms, not to be ignored, are likened to snow and as a metaphor for a warrior killed early in life.
Because cherry blossoms have a short blooming season and are fragile, they have been used to symbolize the transience of life. Also, since cherry trees bloom en masse, they have been used as metaphors for clouds.
What I wrote follows.
Contrary to popular belief, pink is not my favorite color—it’s yellow—but I feel the need to surround myself with pink. Color therapists might suggest that the level at which pink vibrates somehow heals or nurtures me; psychoanalysts might theorize that my gravitation towards pink is about my desire to return to my youth and a younger body; psychotherapists might suggest I’m trying to soften the edge of aging and connect with my innocence and optimism (what’s left of it), and sociologists might suggest that I’m identifying with my queer comrades. But the truth is, I feel happy when I see pink because it reminds me of Dean.
Dearly departed Dean, my gay best friend, my brother and companion through the narrow passage that was on the other side of my mother’s madness. Dean who was the first person I knew who was also gay, and was there to witness my emergence from shame to acceptance, and eventually, to pride. Dean. Whose favorite color was also yellow, but who loved pink the way people love new electronics, or certain movie stars, or fast, convertible sports cars. Dean. Who never let me forget that I was loved on Valentine’s Day, who sent me pink and red and silver Valentines in the mail, hand cut, constructions paper hearts. Who flew me down to LA so we could have dinner together. Who told me he could not imagine living in this world without me.
Dean. Who I think of in late April, when 19th Street between Collingwood and Hartford is lined with the pink clouds of Japanese Cherry trees in full bloom. I love to walk down that street on a warm day and bask in the pale, rosy glow. The wind occasionally picks up and blows the fallen petals into zigzagging strips of pink along the curb. I don’t know why, but it always reminds me of weeping.