Bibliotheca: Cherry Blossoms

 Bibliotheca's month of florals is almost over, and I am personally 100% on board with this theme for April. Although I try to keep my posts relatable to people outside of my geographical area, I've lived my entire life (except for undergrad) in the D.C. metro area, and so April + florals = cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms shape the local culture and provide a D.C.-Japan connection, so I'm excited to explore this topic.

For people outside of the United States of America, the D.C. cherry blossom craze needs some explanation. Thankfully, for the facts of the matter, Wikipedia has you covered. But the facts and numbers (over 700k people!) only tell part of the story. 

Infrastructure in the D.C. area is centered around either the federal government or tourism. I've worked a few museums here, and visitation goes up by multiple orders of magnitude starting in March when the cherries bud, which kickstarts the school tour season and extends tourism much longer than in most towns. It also has a serious component of chance-- unlike summer vacations or religious holidays, there is no precise way to predict the cherry blossom season's duration. This year we had a climate-change induced combination of a mild winter and a cold March, so the season was earlier and longer than usual. 

In a city where the local news is the national news, cherry blossoms are a breath of fresh air, an escape from the endless cycle of politics. The cherry trees flower no matter what Congress is doing or whether the Metro is on fire: they're a connection to a whole other country and to nature. Sometimes the federal government bubble feels suffocating; cherry blossoms affirm that there's more to life.

Because of the centrality and elegant aesthetic of the cherry blossom season, the D.C. lolita comm(s) almost always have a meetup during the main Sakura Matsuri event. I think Sakura Matsuri was the first time I saw a real life lolita outside of anime conventions. The reliability of cherry blossom meetups really stabilizes the comm-- even during the bleak days of 2020 and 2021, we kept holding virtual meetups to celebrate the flowering of spring. 

This constancy is at odds with the central traditional meaning of the cherry blossom: impermanence. Lolitas deal poorly with impermanence in general: we bemoan the fragility of our shoes, we're reluctant to dispose of worn-out socks, and we sometimes even mourn modifications to iconic brand pieces just because we want the dresses to be pristine. 

I think lolitas can learn from the brief fragility of cherry blossoms. I constantly remind people around me that lolita clothing is clothing, and clothes are meant to be worn. Hoarding dresses that are never worn isn't preserving the dress against the imagined ills of stains and smells-- it's preventing them from serving their original function. And yes, wearing nice lolita tights every day might mean that the tights will wear through sooner rather than later, but the joy derived from using them is valuable just as much as the satisfaction of owning them in the first place. 

Living in the present is a valuable investment, even if there's no long term returns. So, as I watch each flower bloom and wilt in turn, I will try to create joy today, and try to cherish the memories over the materiality.

No comments:

Post a Comment