Is love like honey or something else?
|Victor Hugo once said, “Life is a flower of which love is the honey.” This never made sense to me. Honey is bee chewed pollen. I mean, it is made with an insect’s spit! GROSS. I’m sure Mr. Hugo aimed for poetry, but my revulsion overwhelms any warm, fuzzy feelings his quote was meant to engender.
Flowers aren’t a big hit with me either. On our last date, Sam gave me a bouquet of roses. I erupted into a sneezing, red eyed, sniffling monster. I felt bad for him. He probably had to take out a bank loan to afford them, and he insisted on paying for the Benadryl too. He’s such a sweetheart.
Once the Benadryl took effect, we drove out into the New Mexico desert and parked. Lying on the hood of his pickup that warm mid-August night, we watched the stars. The Perseids meteor shower was in progress.
Sam’s arm shot up and pointed. “There!” he said.
It took my breath away, which made me think of the flowers. “What did you do with the roses? They are not in your cab. You didn’t throw them away, did you?”
“I put them in the storage box in the back.”
“I feel so bad about them.” I reached over and took his hand. “I know you meant well. What will you do with them?” My concern was a total sham. If I had a hazmat suit, I’d have torn them apart and stomped on them. No way did I want a sneezing fit again.
“I don’t know. Probably give them to my mom. She’ll probably think I’m up to something.”
I laughed … with relief. Then my arm shot up. “There is one!”
Sam turned his face toward me. “I bought those flowers for a reason.”
Uh, oh, I thought. This is going to get difficult. “Don’t.” I turned my face towards his. “You know I’m set on this mission. This is not a good time for a serious relationship.”
I sat up. “That’s just crazy talk. You know the trip to Mars is going to be for five years. You want a family. I can’t give you that.”
“Don’t you love me?” he asked.
I cared about Sam a lot, but for me our high school romance ended upon graduation. He took over his family’s cattle ranch, and I became an engineer. Each year I returned home for a week’s visit. Sam and I would go out for old time’s sake. I never hid my passion for space flight. He knew I was a Mars habitat specialist. He also knew I was training for the first mission to Mars.
“Sam I’d move mountains for you. You know that don’t you?” He said nothing. Oh, crap. He wasn’t stupid. A veiled no, is still no.
What was he thinking? His long silence was making me uncomfortable. Was he in pain from my rejection? Was he angry? What was going on? The star filled sky held little light to see him by.
“I’ll wait,” he whispered.
It was too awkward after that for us to pretend we were still delighted by the meteor shower. I asked him to take me home.
Later, in one of Mom’s messages, she said he was at the launch with a lot of the other town folk. Despite all the work NASA is keeping us busy with, there is still plenty of time to gaze out the spacecraft’s windows. Mostly what I see is my own reflection.
Pondering Victor Hugo’s quote has given me some insight. I’ve decided Mr. Hugo was correct. Life is a flower. It is a thing of fragrance and beauty. However, love is not just honey. It comes in various flavors. On the one hand, my love for this Mars mission is passionate. It’s like a fire. On the other hand love is insect chewed pollen. Okay, I quit. Stop throwing tomatoes. I’m done with the stupid honey joke. But, in all seriousness, when Sam looks into the stars, I hope he remembers our friendship with tenderness rather than pain. I want both of us to know love can be sweet.
Word count: 693