A Medley of Emotion
This morning was a bit rough. I had to wake up early, plans didn’t work out which meant I had to do more work, people wouldn’t act like decent human beings and get the hell out of my way, and by the time I got to campus to set up for the art sale I was ravenous and a bitch as a result. Then I ate and the birds started singing again.
There was an art sale at school today. I did brisk business and sold all but six of my pieces. Two other students and I decided to take on the project of doing another sale in the Spring with the intent of getting the word out to more people and, with any luck, making it a bigger sale. This morning I was not thrilled at the prospect of even being there today (I really cannot get hungry. This is a new phenomenon. Getting older is weird.) but by this afternoon all was coming up Gerbera daisies. Stay tuned for info on the spring sale…
This evening I talked with my bestie, M. It was a delightful conversation as per usual. However, one of the last things we talked about almost broke my heart. Today, a U.K. news organization reported, the kisses that have festooned Oscar Wilde’s grave in the cemetery of Pere Lachaise in France were removed. Supposedly it was because the oil from the lipstick kisses was degrading the concrete tombstone. It was celebrated as something that Oscar would have wanted.
The first time I went to France I refrained from adding my kiss to his gravestone because the idea of kissing something that was outside and had been touched by hundreds of strange lips kind of freaked me out. I love and idolize Oscar Wilde though and when I went to Paris for study abroad I realized that life is too fucking short to be afraid of germs. One cold winter day I went to Pere Lachaise and found his grave again. I marveled at how amazing it was that a man who died penniless and utterly alone was, at the very least, thought of fondly by so many people. I swiped some lipstick on my lips (bought for that express purpose) and added my kiss to the hundreds that came before me. It is a memory that I cherish and revisit as a reminder that courage, for whatever task is at hand, often leads to cherished memories. It is also a memory that reminds me that even if your time doesn’t come when you are alive, your time will come. Oscar’s certainly did.
A beloved celebrity for an instant, a reviled degenerate for far too long, it took his death and years of separation for him to become the icon he is today. He was a consummate wordsmith, brilliant (He graduated from Magdelene College, one of the Oxford colleges (when Oxford was still at the top of its game) with honors- not something to sneeze at.), and an iconoclast. A quote of his, that is perhaps apocryphal but pithy enough to be true, is,
“This wallpaper is terrible; one of us has to go.”– Oscar Wilde, on his death bed.
He died in Paris, broke and with very few friends left. And what were his last words? Not “fuck you”, not “pity me”, instead the memory we have of his death is one that celebrates his wit and appreciation of the absurdity of life.
For the first time in my life, I said, “fucking French” with all of the anger and resentment that has always eluded me when speaking of them.
I still love Paris, I still love France but it was wrong and, more importantly, stupid, to remove our kisses from his grave and make it so no one can ever kiss his grave again (they surrounded it with glass… fucking French.) When I was there, there was a plaque on his gravestone that said something to the effect of, “please respect this monument and do not deface it.” to which someone had written, in lipstick, “Are you kidding me? He would have loved it!” That anonymous fan was right- Oscar Wilde would have been tickled to see how much he means to so many of us and to what lengths we are willing to go to show our love (I kissed a cement sculpture that had been kissed by hundreds [seriously] of strangers and their unknown germs and that had been totally exposed to all that nature might want to offer it, including, but not limited to, bird crap. If that isn’t love I don’t know what is.)
Wherever you are Oscar Wilde, know that you are loved. Thank you to everyone who came to the art sale and supported myself and the ceramics/art department. And thank you to the little market that is on my way to school- your homemade tamales (so good!) kept me from doing something I might regret while crazed with hunger.