Finding Status

Yesterday, we took a family walk when it happened. The sight of those purple flowers growing next to the sidewalk sent me colliding into my past. Back in Hollywood in 1985; it’s a city shimmering with promises of future success-tarnished by the contrast of the walking failures pushing shopping carts down Sunset Boulevard. At ten years old, I know it’s the place to go if you dream of being on the big screen. Like so many before me, I press my small fingers into the concrete handprints in front of Grauman’s Theatre as I imagine the glittery lives of the people who were worthy enough to have their names engraved on the ground. All the colored gowns, the black tuxedos on bended knees, the heels delicately balancing while flashbulbs exploded like hot kernels in a pot. The grandiosity of the place increases my insecurity and self-awareness that I’m not anyone special, just a girl that lives everywhere and happens to be passing through once more.

Across the street from the small motel sits an abandoned lot with some wildflowers growing-not willowy pastels but rather hearty purple masses on thick vines of the stem. Their pop of color emphasizes the drabness of the very place they grow. They must have decided that it was as good a place as any to announce themselves. Sometimes I feel like those flowers, randomly transplanting and trying to perk up. When half your life exists inside an ever-changing room with two double beds and snow-covered ceilings overhead, the locations don’t matter. Seeking freedom from the staleness of the room, I grab a pair of scissors from my mother’s sewing kit and walk over to the small field.

A fragile, almost paperlike texture to the flower surprises me; it’s nothing like the silky smoothness of a rose or even my favorite flower of all, the pansy. Snipping enough for a bouquet, I carry them back to the vault and place them in a clear plastic drinking cup with some faucet water. Such a contrast of color in this dreary room weighed down by the periodic disagreements and the battle of wills; these flowers deliver a small dose of relief. My mother brightens for a moment as she tells me that they are called status. Wrinkling my nose and turning my head sideways to consider the contradiction, I wonder why a flower that grows wild in a field with no one to care for it was ever named status? Isn’t that something people achieve with hard work and recognition from others? Especially in Hollywood.

Although I know now the spelling is different, the flower whose meaning is remembrance still takes me back to the overgrown lot where I first found it. My future was far-off and undetermined, but I could feel the need to carve my own path out of the circumstances assigned to me.

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