Thoughts on Beauty from Violet Lane

Originally published Monday, 29 April 2013.

In my new apartment complex, there is a street named Violet. I sort of smirked at the name all through the winter. That's kind of how I get sometimes. Sarcastic and eye-rolly. It seemed like some sort of tribute to a little girl’s dollhouse dream. Like Strawberry Shortcake was living among us, or something. 

But then spring arrived in Virginia Beach and I understood. 

The rain here leaves the air lingering over the ground in a thick sprawl of green. One bright, April morning--in the emerald haze of new life and springtime--Violet lane was suddenly the home of hundreds of hot pink violets that peeked through the bushy nests in the swarm of green everywhere. 

I'm not a botanist. And every plant I've ever owned has suffered the fate of either too much watering (I'm a recovering overachiever), or under-watering (I'm good at some stuff, just not plant upkeep, okay?). 

But whenever I'm running the late-for-work mad dash from the house every morning; or whenever I'm doing the single girl juggling act with my keys, purse and lipstick while trying to keep my coffee safe from spilling out of my Newsies tumbler, I find rest in these flowers.

Their vibrance reminds me that I'm alive. In the midst of the business and the hypnotics of the nine-to-five routine, it's nice to know that some things stay put. There is something clinging to the earth with its powerful little roots.

Then, a few days ago, as I was absentmindedly walking to my car, heels clacking, keys jingling, I stopped short. There was my neighbor rummaging and wading through the thick, green bushes with a plastic grocery bag by his side. 

He was ravaging the flowers with his bare hands, plucking them, disturbing their roots and shoving them away into a plastic grocery bag.

He smiled as he noticed he had an audience, and gave a guilty little wave. I narrowed my eyes at him, angered by his selfishness. 

Because I hate it when things like beauty and purpose are needlessly destroyed. 

Ladies, it's take me a while, but I'm finally beginning to come clean with my friends and family about an abusive relationship I fell into my first year of grad school. A few weeks ago I wrote this response to this Slate article.

And I'm a little overwhelmed, because so many of you responded with stories similar to mine. So many of you sent messages and wrote comments, or told me in person about how you were treated. About the pain that you've kept, like mine, a secret. And that horrifies me. 

Sweet sisters, if your story is like mine, I'm sorry that your beauty was ruptured. I'm sorry you were taken from the ground for a spell. I'm angered that you were plucked from where you were rooted only to be left rotting on a windowsill. 

I love you. I'm here. And when you say things like: 

"It's not fair." Or "It's not important." 

I'll be there to say, "You're right, it's totally not fair." And "Actually, yes, it's absolutely important. "

I'll also be there to pray for you. To help you, if I can, see that there's hope. Violets uprooted can be planted again. And beauty can be found in other places. Like where grace and justice is found. Beauty is found in boldness in the midst of the emerald green film. 

Beauty ravaged is not gone.