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Droplets of Infinity
Swirling into unknown possibility, like petals in the wind.
Starting in September 2022, I began a year-long floral self-portrait series to document my first year in New York. This is the final entry, for August 2023, “Droplets of Infinity.”
This is the twelfth and last self portrait of this series. To mark the occasion (and, dare I say, accomplishment), I returned to the place I started: the flower district on West 28th Street, where last year I lugged a bouquet of sunflowers wrapped in brown paper under sunny skies. It rained today, the sprinkly sort, and the sky was overcast, mourning the end of summer. The air was thick and defeated, the kind that makes you feel like you’re wading through a bog.
I stopped in at the first shop that had sunflowers spilling onto the sidewalk, and then was distracted by a boisterous bunch of lemon-yellow dahlias, a beacon in a sea of peach. My first instinct was to grab it. It would be full circle, starting and ending this series with yellow. Hope. Optimism. Promise. Joy. As I made a move to pull the brown paper, itself soggy, crispness lost in the humidity, another bouquet caught my eye and I was pulled into the orbit of five Karma Choc dahlias, with large, sumptuous petals that started as burgundy velvet on the tips and gave way to black pools as you moved toward the center—black holes. Though I wanted the yellow dahlias, this magnetic, dramatic bunch drew me to them with a certain intensity, and that’s when I realized that they summed up how this first year in New York has been. Intense. Unexpected. Like I was being pulled into the depths.
In the past twelve months, I moved states. I met three (cool) girls/roommates who have made the transition less lonely. (One of them is local, so she also made it less daunting—and is the reason we have our apartment.) I lost what I thought was my dream job. I found a new one that I totally wasn’t expecting, but that has been sweet all the same. I’ve made tentative and tender friendships—with writers, artists, dreamers, strangers. I’ve cried on a public bench. I got on a train going the wrong direction. I’ve been the unwilling subject of men’s attention, more than I ever have in my life. I’ve become a regular at a cafe near my grocery store. (One chai latte and a ham croissant, please.) I have a book club. I’m writing a novel. I still don’t know what I’m doing. I entered the freshman year of my adult life. I forgave someone who really hurt me. I grieved.
A little over 365 days later, I’m sitting on the wood floor of the apartment I’ve lived in the last year, and in which I will stay for the next. The not-parquet is still light and honey colored with deep crimson black dahlia petals scattered with the powdery, pollen remnants of Love-in-a-Mist. I think it’s a bit ironic now, the flowers I chose. Karma Choc and Love-in-a-Mist. Flowers that are buoyant, exuberant, clumsy, tangled, and chaotic with something soft but lethal looking, colors deep enough to pull you into their orbit, stems with a circumference larger than my own fingers, that crunch when cut with shears. Somehow, though, the black dahlia is still fragile—it’s been two days since I brought them home, and with a gentle shake to shimmy them off the floral frogs, their petals rain down, droplets of infinity, drinking the light and pulling it into their depths. Into the unknown.
This final portrait is an amalgamation of all of that. Joy with that undercurrent of sorrow. Life in all its bifurcations: lightness and heaviness, happiness and sadness, triumph and defeat, knowing and wondering, successes and failures. Where the next twelve months will ferry me I can’t say. Of course, I’ve got a notebook filled with plans, but after that, it might be up to the universe to decide. Thanks for hanging on through this series, and I hope you’ll continue to stick around for more conversations on work, art, identity, beauty, and finding joy in all of it.
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