the rest of roses

It’s the itching.

It usually starts like a flutter. I think I might have imagined it. I brush it away like a stray piece of hair may be dangling off my arm. Sometimes it is exactly that.

Sometimes, I feel the bump, more of a welt, and I know my skin will start puckering soon. The bumps will multiply. They’ll press under my eyes and along my wrists, and on the back of my arm. They’re just stress hives, nothing to worry about, the doctor says, since worry caused them in the first place.

They itch.

It’s the itching that keeps me up at night.

It’s also the aching. I don’t know if it’s the drop of temperature, or the laying down, but nighttime tightens my joints. This is bearable in my ankles– I sneak my feet out of my weighted blankets, and slowly stretch small circles into the air.

But when my hip tightens, I can feel my injury. Sometimes it hurts so bad I can taste it, and even though that doesn’t even make sense to me, it’s a real thing.

It’s maybe the aching that keeps me up at night.

In the daylight, I wonder if that’s all it is. I wonder if I could sleep past my running thoughts, if I could trust myself to not fall into my nightmares.

I don’t suppose there’s any way to tell for sure.

This is another morning that might be night still. A today I pressed into yesterday, like the days are clay, and if I combine them all together without rest, I might have enough day to do something with it.

I could make something beautiful, maybe.

As a child, it was always roses. Do you know how to make a clay rose? You start by rolling small pieces into perfectly round clay marbles. Maybe five of the smallest size. Then four of a larger size. Then three big ones.

You press your thumb against it, flatten the sphere. There. A petal. Then again and again.

This next stage is delicate. You must lift each piece up, starting with the tiniest and moving to the largest. They don’t always want to come. Sometimes, they don’t know they are petals. They think you crushed the something out of them. Turned them back to the nothing of the blob of clay. Sometimes you pressed too hard. A petal knows the heft it will need to see to the rose. It will not settle.

Smallest piece first. Bend the edges together slightly so it curves like a palm resting against a waist in a fancy waltz. Next piece, same thing. Then nest it, pinching your petals together slightly at the bottom. And then continue.

You may not need every one you made. A rose knows how many petals it needs, and you won’t know till you can see the rose.

I know this feels like a metaphor but it isn’t. I just wanted to talk about something that brought me comfort as a child. I can see it so clearly.

Chaos, always, around me. Chaos, sometimes, within me. A long table that I had seen laden with food, and covered in papers, and surrounded by so many people that the impossible reach of it was almost too small.

A lump of clay in front of me, as I pressed and rolled ever-smaller spheres between the base of my palms, where they would get the most even shaping.

I don’t remember if it was daytime or nighttime. I remember the rows of roses. My slow and careful critique of each one. And then I remember taking them together by the handful– a small, heavy bouquet of something from nothing– and crushing them together.

The clay went back in the container, and the table had to be cleaned, and the noise turned back on in my memories like the rolling motion was some kind of cosmic chaos dimmer.

I wasn’t a quiet kid, but I needed those moments, and I wonder if my need for that sort of silence is what actually keeps me awake. It is certainly one reason I’ve always loved the night. I wonder, if I let myself be unworried about sleep patterns, if the peace of petals would find me, or if maybe I just haven’t made enough space for myself to do the work, or if maybe this constant stream of questions and curiosities is the real reason I never really rest anymore.

Do you know, back then… I thought the clay smelled like roses when I pressed it away.

I wonder what that means.

13 Comments

  1. I get stress hives as well. They are really frustrating. It took me a long time to realize that they were caused by stress and that I wasn’t having an allergic reaction to something. The ones that are *actually* from an allergic reaction are worse and stick around for daaays.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, my allergy-hives even sometimes leave a mark on my skin. The stress hives are far more temporary, but then, since they keep coming back, also far more permanent. πŸ™‚ I’m sorry you know the stress of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep, I have a fairly serious metal allergy. Which means that I shouldn’t wear certain jewelry… Guess who still wears that jewelry sometimes… I end up with *horrible* hives that stick around for days. I’m probably actually scarred on the back of my neck because I stubbornly continue to decide to wear certain necklaces. The things we (I) do for fashion. πŸ˜‰ Everytime I think, hey, maybe it won’t be that bad this time… I’m always wrong.

    But as far as the stress ones, so often lately I’m like “why am I so itchy? Oh, look, hives… Yeah, I guess I’m a *little* stressed out.”

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  3. “The stress hives are far more temporary, but then, since they keep coming back, also far more permanent.”
    Wow. I am sorry you have this recurring terrorist visiting you. 😦 Sending you lots of love. This was just so beautifully expressed, it is so bittersweet to read, so vivid. I hear you, my friend ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been wanting to blame my not sleeping on my cat or my job but then I realize my mind is racing with all kinds of other thoughts and questions and noises and chaos, I can’t pin it all on the loud ass whines of our feline at four am, I suppose. Thank you for sharing this, making those roses sounds like such a sacred ritual.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. πŸ˜‚ I get that. The other night I blamed it on the loudness outside even though 4th is a ghost town compared to normal… clearly it’s more than just sounds keeping us up. πŸ™‚

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  5. This is so beautiful and I totally understand about the sleepless nights. I think many of us are having the experience. I’ve also heard that the best way to fall out of insomnia is to not stress about it. To allow ourselves to stay awake and do something we enjoy during that time until our bodies feel the heaviness of sleep. Wishing you good nights.

    Liked by 1 person

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