Discover more from joyride
Starting in September 2022, I began a year-long floral self-portrait series to document my first year in New York. This is the April entry, “Buoyant.”
April. Every year, I wait 360 days for the perfect five when the cherry blossoms are at their peak bloom. Cheerful, fluffy, buoyantly bouncing in the wind. If there ever was a more perfect definition of joy, I have yet to find it.
Of all the flowers that come with spring, cherry blossoms are my favorite. Nothing is quite so magical, so hopelessly romantic, as standing under a tree in late bloom, watching as the wind carries the petals in a swooping, swirling cascade. As if, for a moment, life is a movie where the ending is always good.
In Paris, there is a park on the outskirts of the city with an orchard of cherry trees. If you wake up early enough, you can have the whole place to yourself. If wonder can be defined by a place, then for me, this is one of them. The park also happens to be a lovely place to picnic, another favorite Parisian pastime, and, in the throes of the pandemic, I clung to this one hope. That come April, everything would be fine and I’d get that birthday picnic under the blossoms that I so desperately wanted.
As we now know, it was not so. Quarantine dragged past the three week estimate. It bled into the first, then second week of April. By the third, I had to admit defeat. There wouldn’t be a picnic this year, at least not there. The petals had long been carried by the wind by the time I returned to the city from Normandy, in May.
Instead, I contented myself with a bleated-birthday-goodbye-picnic in the Parc de Bercy on a rainy June afternoon. This is what I love about Parisians: they aren’t deterred by the rain. No one batted an eye at the first drops, and as it became a hearty drizzle, my guests simply opened umbrellas and carried on with the conversation. The day ended up being beautiful, but in that moment it couldn’t have summed up my feelings more accurately. I was feeling the melancholy and relief of leaving a place that I quite loved but that had been incredibly difficult. Sunshine and rain and clouds swirled over my heart as I looked around at all the people I had come to love and felt the pain of a broken dream.
This year, however, I got my picnic. It wasn’t in Paris. It was in Central Park, behind the Met. We found the trees by accident, and the weather couldn’t have been better. A stroke of luck, maybe, given the spate of rainy, windy, cold days leading up to it. We cut a cake from Aux Merveilleux de Fred, like I did in Paris, and I looked around again, at a new hodgepodge of friends, old and new, that I had come to love. The last Paris picnic marked a farewell—I was in transit, going home, wherever that was and whatever the word meant. But this time around, though I find myself in yet a different city, the sentiments couldn’t be more contradictory. I’m not leaving, I’m trying to plant roots. I’m trying to bloom.
While I’m unsure of my own progress, I do know that spring in New York was an abundance, best captured by the generous cherry blossoms we came across by happenstance. And I hope that when the year is through, I’ll find that I bloomed, too.
Did someone forward this to you? Subscribe here.