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The Pattern of Flowers


The pattern of flowers is one of my first memories, we lived in a small house that was not much more than a cottage. I was three years old, and all my memories of that time are visual. I have clips of my mother entertaining a girlfriend at the kitchen table, my mother had just returned from a trip to California, I remember crawling under the kitchen table while they spoke, my mother wearing the sandals she had brought back from the California coast with seashells adorning them, I remember these but not her face. As they spoke their feet would cross and uncross discussing experiences that I was too young to understand but felt that I was involved somehow. I remember the linoleum and its pattern, one square after another, all the same and strategically connecting….and the shells on her sandals making a soft clashing sound as her feet fidgeted when she spoke.

I remember the voices becoming urgent and full of emotion and my presence suddenly becoming known, things I shouldn’t hear even though I was too young to grasp them.

I was lifted and removed from the conversation to my crib in a small adjoining room. The room was dark beyond the ability to see its contents, the only light came through a small rectangle window which lit up the curtains in the pattern of tiny golden yellow and orange flowers, a rectangle beacon of order, comforting in its repetition of color and uniformity, even to a small child it made sense and I placed my faith in it. not long after that my mother explained to my brothers and I that she was going to the store and she may have gone to the store, but it was irrelevant because she never returned. She followed her seashell sandals back to California and perhaps kicked them off in the sand, abandoning them for the freedom that can only come from leaving your past behind, letting the sea wash away the chains that bound her.

I remember the sun fading and my beautiful flower pattern evaporating from my curtains, from golden comfort to black uncertainty. At some point the sun rose again and there were my beautiful flowers, reassuring, bright, an algorithm of a promise that things are circumvent and there is always an answer, a way to overcome. Put one foot in front of the other and you can walk, a method that has allowed me to move forward.

The pattern of flowers was the visual that told me I could survive, a cognitive process of recognizing patterns allowing me to navigate, a survival tool. patterns are my recognition of undeniable truth and outcome, a mathematical certainty, a comfort to me as truth is a starting point to healing. In moments of melancholy I think of those curtains, a bright rectangle in an obscure darkness and I take comfort in them.

I often think why do people like stripes, polka dots, or plaids etc.?  What is it within a pattern that brings them comfort? I often consider this concept and searched my own memory for explanation only to return to a pattern of flowers.

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