In the 21 years we’ve been together, I can count the number of times Ryan has given me flowers on half a hand. He will probably dispute this and say it’s more, but honestly it doesn’t matter. I do love flowers, any and all, and I love to receive them but they’re not his thing, they’re mine.
In our early dating years, I adored sunflowers. Their giant yellow centers, and bright petals.The way they turn their faces up toward the sun. The way they grow seven feet tall if left alone, with thick, sturdy stems and perfectly big green leaves. Everyone who knew me knew how much I loved them. And one day Ryan proudly presented me with a bunch of… yellow daisies. “What?! They’re yellow! Sunflowers are yellow and these are yellow. Same thing!”
Of course they are not at all the same thing. Garden daisies – as pretty as they are – are not shiny sunflowers. Sunflowers are like daisies on steroids. Twenty-year-old me probably minded a lot – what kind of a boyfriend doesn’t make an effort to give his girlfriend the exact flower that she loves? – but after a couple more of those, it was so not important that he give me flowers. Yes, I love flowers but he doesn’t have floral associations where I’m concerned, and so it’s a pretty meaningless gesture for both of us. And the blue hydrangeas from the blooming bush in the garden always make a beautiful bouquet-to-self.
So no yellow sunflowers, or pink tulips, and definitely no red roses.
But what he did give me was my first pair of real cowboy boots… red. He bought them in Austin, Texas in 2011. I wasn’t with him. He got the size, style and color exactly right. He knew I needed red cowboy boots before I did. He’s good like that. Sometimes too good. Almost immediately, it was love.
I don’t wear red anywhere else, except on those boots. No red underwear, or red T-shirts, not even red nails. Red cowboy boots are it – in more ways than one!
I wear those boots whenever I can. With leggings, jeans, skirts. With tank tops and sweaters. Cloudy or sunny. The slightly pointy toe, the perfect heel, the red leather and white stitching, and the sharp, clicky “I’m here with a purpose” sound they say when I walk make me feel like I can do anything, and that when I do it, I’ll rock it. The “rock it” part usually doesn’t happen – it depends on the day and also if it’s raining, cowboy boots do not do well in the rain. But at the very least I feel a little less awkward and unsure while I slip on the slick surface of daily life’s many somethings when I wear them.
Over the years, my red cowboy boots have come to represent a part of me I thought I had left behind. The part that wants to wander, explore and discover. The part that longs for solitude and serenity even while living the frenzy. Ryan recognized that part of me when we met 21 years ago – and I’m guessing that’s the part he bought those red cowboy boots for in 2011. He knew… before I did.
They’re not roses. Which are lovely and perfectly petaled in all their heavenly perfume. But I would put them in a vase, look at them, inhale their scent for a few days (or a bit longer if they’re from Costco and if I remember the flower food), and when they started to wilt and droop I would reluctantly throw them away.
They are cowboy boots – I wear them. I feel them. They feel me. They are worn. Scuffed and scratched. I recently bought a new pair when I visited Austin for the first time. They’re already broken in. And they’re red. Like roses.
This post was written as part of the April A to Z Challenge. To read more of my A to Z posts click here.