“Sunflower, bullshit. I want everything beautiful to burn.”
Tiny yellow pedals point outward like triangular rays of sunshine. The face of the blackened middle, smiling to the sky, turning to drink up sun, sleeps in the darkness. Maybe it tilts, just a little. I recall singing a school song, rather a song at school, for a spring concert, at Lacordaire about a sunflower. The whole thing is on VHS somewhere. I might’ve had a dress too that I wore with a sunflower on it. Might’ve been navy blue with black and white checks. Some song and dance routine where we move toward the rhythm and sing songs about how God is the sun and we are just all sunflowers turning toward Him. My mom really liked the song. It was in the sweaty gymnasium, which also doubled as an auditorium. There was a stage in it and everything – bigger than Good Shepard for sure. I still remember that gym, that was technically in the high school. There might’ve been cookies and fruit punch afterwards. A combination that never makes sense outside the context of being a kid. When Hawaiian Punch and Juicy Juice ruled. Capri Sun and Sssips and here I just going on and on about juice. Hi-C! So many flavors, so much cardboard and aluminum and high fructose corn syrup. Plastic straws attached. Parents really put up with a lot of our bullshit, huh? So much commitment, so many activities; Birthday invitations and playdates. It’s a lot. I realize that now. But when you’re a kid, you don’t understand it. It doesn’t make sense. There’s no context because there’s nothing to base it off of, there’s no experience. You’re so fresh and new in the world and everything is just happening to you all at once. Aging is annoying. Just when some things stay the same, other things are always changing. Like my eyesight. I haven’t seen a legit sunflower in awhile. Pictures, of course. I think my great-grandma had a singing sunflower that may she got from my mom when she used to sell Avon. They always had strange electronic things in the early aughts. But this sunflower had a face in the middle and when you pressed a button it would sing you are my sunshine. And she got a real kick out that. And that was all it did. That was the gag. And I guess when she was feeling blue and no one else was around, she’d hit that button and laugh out loud because that was the kind of person she was. Back before she got dementia, back before she had to have her car keys taken away, back before she had to walk around with a name tag that also had on it her address and who to call if she was lost. Back before nursing homes in Kenilworth that we dreaded to go to on a Saturday. It was a lot. I get that now. My dad always made us go though, despite it all. And I think that was the right thing to do.