Pink was the Colour of Peonies

14 August 2023

There are worlds that stop at the end of the cul-de-sac. Adolescence is transfixed; days seem too long, too ordinary. You ache for more, so much so that you dream to pass the time. Pencil marks etched on the door jamb record how tall you once were. The lines end after the surprise growth spurt of ‘98. But you never did stop growing. Long after you leave, the walls remain. Bathed in the afternoon sunbeam, you’ll chase this warmth forever.

Photographer, Amanda Gylling, dusts off her old dress up box for the boys to play. She pulls out her sister’s high school prom dress, a red vintage jacket, blue velcro hair rollers. Recognizing their significance, the boys gather, hushed in reverence over the treasured memorabilia, imbued with moments belonging to persons who yearned before them.

Stig pins a satin flower on first, gently atop his heart. Wrapped in taffeta, Marius presses a shade named ‘Romance’ onto his lips. Adorned is Bugra with jewels of blue bloods, the last of their dynasty. Max nestles a tiara amongst his golden cascades and the boys spring to join the royal court. Protected by a wardrobe of silk spun from tall tales, feathers shed from preening flamingoes, pearls plucked by sirens, they perform the portraiture in their heads.

Arms raised, toes pointed - leaping into daring pirouettes, they become porcelain dancers, unbridled by gravity and buoyed by grace. Dusk scatters their shadows across the room, stretching like fog over their castle out of reach. Faster and faster the room spins with glee, until one by one, they collapse like toy soldiers defeated in battle, like a distressed starlet after a lover’s departure.

Can we return to when bones healed without consequence and you laughed with abandon? When pink was the color of peonies. Before nostalgia became another form of heartbreak and doubt became larger than the what ifs. And we never worried over how nothing can last.

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