Sunday, February 27, 2011

Graveyard Girl



Outfit Details: thrifted and reconstructed sweater coat, thrifted sweater, vintage slip (from my mom's store), boots courtesy of Wanted, Ginger Satchel courtesy of Coach 
 

One of my favorite pastimes might seem a tad macabre, though I never really thought of it that way until it was pointed out to me. Ever since I was a little girl, I've been fascinated by cemeteries, with a love of visiting particularly older sites and discovering the epitaphs within. I have two distinct sources for this early intrigue: my great grandparents and my mom. Let me preface this by saying that I was obsessed with consumer-friendly horror novels when I was in elementary and middle school, and went through a phase where I read books about famous murderers and other Wednesday Addams-esque topics. I even dressed as Lizzie Borden for Halloween. Other than that, I was a relatively normal child. Well, not really, but we'll save that for another occasion.

Though my great grandparents always made me feel safe and loved, my sisters and I were convinced that their house was haunted. It might have helped that they told us they had a resident ghost. It might also have something to do with spending an entire night reading Amityville Horror, while laying next to a lion statue that was just waiting to come to life. But I digress; this is about graveyards.

Moe (my 92 year old great grandma) never drove, due to an early accident that rendered her petrified of taking the wheel; Papa always picked us up for weekend visits. On our car ride to their house on the intercoastal, we always passed a cemetery that seemed to stretch beyond the capacity of my lungs. You see, Papa told us that we had to hold our breath as we passed by, in order to keep spirits from inhabiting our bodies. We all knew he was fooling - both he and Moe were fond of superstitions and ghost stories - but it made for a fun game.

I always cheated.

Beyond keeping the spirits at bay, I delighted in reading the epitaphs on older tombstones, visiting whom I can only assume were long forgotten inhabitants, and romanticizing the lives of the presently deceased. That came from my mom, who introduced me to gravestone rubbings and told me of her favorite tombstone she came across, when she was younger. Though variants seemed to be common in the 19th century, I have never forgotten the way she told it:

Dear friend, as you go passing by
as you are now, so once was I
as I am now, soon you will be
Prepare for death and follow me.


I'm certainly not trying to disrespect the dead, or the people they've left behind. Quite the opposite, actually, and I prefer to visit them when they're empty (as to not disturb any visitors). Strangely, though I've frequented the famed Greenwood Cemetery and others I've happened across, I still haven't visited Papa's grave. Perhaps it's because I knew his life: there is nothing to make up, only actual nostalgia - and the people who loved him are still here, still grieving, even after all these years.

I think of him every time I drive by a cemetery, though not because he has passed. I hold my breath until my cheeks hurt, and I think of him sitting there with me.

Maybe I'll pay him a visit while I'm in Florida. I think it's time I visit Rowdy, too.

58 comments:

  1. Keiko, you look absolutely gorgeous, as always. I also love reading your intriguing posts, and this does not disappoint.
    xo, Paige Renae

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  2. keiko,
    love that sweater it looks so soft and comfortable, and i love the pastels of the sweater and jacket!

    <3 steffy
    steffysprosandcons.blogspot.com

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  3. I have yet to lose anyone I really love...[Hugs] from here.

    But, I understand your fascination with cemeteries; I think they're incredible.

    Yasmeen
    Castle Fashion

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  4. Very ethereal outfit, love the knit especially and the Coach satchel.

    Your fascination with graveyards is almost demure--I understand about how you feel about your grandpa's passing and how you haven't visited his grave site yet, it almost feels surreal and that his life is still somewhat being lived.

    www.TheFancyTeacup.com
    much love.

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  5. It's neat that you can take comfort in the sweet memories you have of your Papa. I think we will always mourn those we love who have left us...reminiscing and cherishing those memories is all we can do.

    I just love reading your posts, you have such a magnificent way of story telling.

    Lidi @ Eclectic Flair

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  6. The Fancy Teacup: "his life is still somewhat being lived" - that is the perfect way to describe it.

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  7. Love your outfit, and all your posts are so intriguing, loving your blog!

    http://luxecouture05.blogspot.com/
    Please check it out :)
    x

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  8. I really like a book called Looking for Alaska it's about a teen obsessed with people's last words. I found it to be a great book, and I think you would like. I like to fantasize about the types of lives some people led. Sometimes I wish graves had more than just a little writing. I can't quite explain it.
    My Heart Blogged

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  9. Paige: Thank you so much; I enjoy your blog, too!

    Steffy: thank you:) That sweater (and the one I'm wearing right now...same style but green) is my go-to for comfort. It's the best.

    Castle Fashion: What's kind of funny is that I was a little timid to post this, because I was afraid people would think I was being disrespectful - which isn't my intention. I'm glad other people have similar feelings!

    eclectic flair: thank you! I'm glad you enjoy it.

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  10. luxecouture: thanks, I appreciate it!

    My heart blogged: Thank you for the recommendation; I will have to pick that up. My mom has a book from a cemetery that hosts a lot of my step-dad's ancestors - it's really interesting because it has in-depth backgrounds on the people.

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  11. I love this. Oddly, I find peace in cemeteries. My husband and I actually stopped on a trip for my daughter to run around in a cemetery and stretch our legs. I love reading the tombstones as well. I don't think it's disrespectful. I think we can go into these places with happiness in our hearts to pay respects and learn from the souls at rest there.

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  12. I love this post. I've actually been thinking a lot about cemeteries and have been waffling on whether or not I should blog about them. In my drive to my campus, I pass by at least three cemeteries, and some of the stones are really old. I thought I was a freak for thinking that cemeteries were such beautiful and fascinating places, full of inspiration, silence, and comfort. But thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings on them. You are totally awesome.

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  13. how funny, i came across that quote on a tombstone in boston this summer and actually bought a magnet with that quote on it. there were many great headstones in boston.

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  14. You would probably love "Spoonriver Anthologies" or "The Spoon River Anthology" (I can't remember which is correct, or if it's one word or more...). It's a collection of stories of the deceased of a town, Spoonriver, after their passing, in narrative from their own perspective. It's a wonderful read, and is usually also performed, typically in a Black Box theatre. We did it in an amphitheater in the woods.

    I also love spending time in local cemeteries, imagining the lives of the names on tombstones. We have a few nice ones here, but I miss the ones in New Orleans most. The tombs are so imposing and beautiful. I used to collect rubbings of the script found in cemeteries I would visit, collecting a scrapbook of names and dates and the stories I could hunt down in local libraries. I lived in the Sleepy Hollow area as well, where most of my family is buried, which I contribute to my interest. My dad lived in Salem, so there were some interesting stories buried there, as well.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing. Good to know I am not the only one who find solace and beauty in the graveyard.

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  15. Love this Keiko!
    I too have a love for cemeteries, mainly the super old/spooky ones. I remember being little and holding my breath on the school bus as we past the graveyard every week...I still find myself doing it! I found the most amazing historic cemetery this fall in St.Augustine,FL. The spanish moss dangled from the twisted oaks and it was filled with ornate old tombstones. Did you ever read the Fear Street books growing up?

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  16. Gorgeous coat!


    xoxo,

    colormenana.blogspot.com

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  17. love how everyone is sharing their affinity for the morbid now too...Keiko if you haven't read the Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman already you totally should!!

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  18. Keiko!! i love your haircut!


    http://www.ohmydior.org/

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  19. This outfit is adorable, and this story is sad and wonderful at the same time - you write so beautifully, Keiko.

    I've been loving your posts more and more lately, especially ones like these with a background story :)

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  20. You must go to Paris and visit Pere Lachaise. It's so vast. I've been to towns smaller than it and with few residents (dead or alive). Dave and I went on a rainy day in September and it was a good way to kill (har har) a couple hours. I've got some photos on facebook.
    I decided on my epitaphs this week, interestingly enough. If I die before my twin sister, whom I am older then, I decided I want my grave to say "First one in and first one out." I know it's macabre but I like it.
    One of my faves will always be John Keats "Here lies/One Whose Name was writ in Water"

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  21. Very interesting post to read! I don't think it's weird at al. So many things and life can be sad and depressing but beautiful at the same time. Like visiting a cemetery. I adore your outfit. The sweater and the coat are so beautiful together. I love the colors! <3

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  22. You look beyond amazing here Keiko!

    Grace x
    secretly styled.

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  23. Interesting post, I enjoyed reading it. I like that quote too.

    Check out my blog: Principessa Gabriella

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  24. What I liked most about this post is how you brought it back around to complete the theme, which in this case, were graveyards (in the most unintentionally macabre way possible). I like how you said that passing by graveyards reminded you of your Papa not because of his death, but of his life. :)

    Oh, I totally believed in stupid little superstitious things when I was little (and even a little now). I remember once my Japanese friend told me that Japanese hold in their thumbs when they pass by them (I think) and I kinda did so, even though I'm not Japanese! silly me. And yes, I also did the "hold your breath!" thing, too. I must've looked the wreck when passing by them when I was younger. xD

    Toast with Charmalade

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  25. I once did a play in a cemetary ... in late high school I was part of a theatre group and we performed a montage of scenes depicting the city's history in the old cemetary. Nobody has been buried there in recent times and even though we were actually performing in the cemetary alongside graves, it was done with the utmost respect for the residents.

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  26. I like graveyards too, old ones anyway. Some of the stones over here in the UK are terribly old, and the inscriptions are a kind of glimpse into the past. New ones are obviously much sadder; I don't tend to visit my little sisters grave either (although that one is home in Australia so it would be hard to do it often anyway). I'm sorry about your dad, that must be very hard xx

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  27. the way you write about ones you love always touches my heart. funny but I ha friend who used to do the same breathing thing, thank you for the reminder.
    oh, and your outfit is lovely as well

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  28. the way you write about ones you love always touches my heart. funny but I ha friend who used to do the same breathing thing, thank you for the reminder.
    oh, and your outfit is lovely as well

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  29. what a lovely post, and you look so beautiful. great story :)

    xxx Charlie
    Enter my Lipstick Giveaway!

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  30. ~ * ♥ * ~

    I so love old graveyards too ~ they are often so peaceful and picturesque that it is really nice to slip in and just enjoy the silence.

    I only visit old graves though, because like you said Keiko, the people that are missing their loved ones are still here. It might be just my imagination, but sometimes I think that I can feel their sadness lingering.

    I hope the memories of your Papa make you smile.

    xox,
    bonita of Depict This!
    ~ * ♥ * ~

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  32. I love visting cemeteries and what I love even more is taking pictures of the graves. I once blogged about it <a href="http://feeistmeinname.blogspot.com/2010/09/friedhofsansichten.html> here </a>.

    I personally don't think it's macabre. It's part of our lives!

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  33. I love cemeteries but that's probably because I used to live next to two from age 6 to 18. I loved looking at the ages of the people and reading the epitaphs. I always hated when people would tell me to leave because a graveyard is no place to play, I wasn't playing I was looking.

    I think that epitaph your mum found is lovely. I've never seen anything like that before.

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  34. Hi Keiko! I also love visiting cemeteries. There's something intriguing and beautiful about them (I particularly like the Highgate Cementery in London, one of the oldest). I love the statues and the way time leaves its sign on them, but also the cemeteries' silence and calm. I'm actually working on a series of photographs about old cementeries.

    Anyway, is good to know that you also like visiting them and you also think there's nothing wrong about doing it :)

    x

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  35. You look absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your childhood story! x

    Bows and Pearls

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  36. I'm in love with those boots!!
    http://soyfrivolita.blogspot.com/

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  37. What a truly beautiful post.
    - AlbeeLucky.blogspot.com

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  38. when Rowdy passed, it was one of the hardest posts I have ever read. Your love for him was so obvious

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  39. it is quite eerie, but I also love that epitaph! and I love cemeteries, I love finding the oldest tomb and looking at the symbols represented on different tombstones from different eras. I am not obsessed with death, instead, I love culture and history and burial is so much a part of that.

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  40. What a beautiful post. Such a lovely story.

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  41. Aw, I love this post. I also was a morbid little girl; example: my favorite movies were Don't Tell Mom The Babysitters Dead, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and Wizard of Oz -- all creepy!!
    I agree, looking at the graves belonging to people you never knew is so very different than visiting someone you loved. I think you should do it. It'd probably feel great.

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  42. I love cemetaries too. Love the history of the people laying in them (the older the better). Am thinking of a cemetary post...maybe in the summer.

    www.plentyforpennies.com

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  43. The Coach satchel is beautiful!

    http://thebohemienne.wordpress.com/

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  44. I've never been one to go walking in cemeteries or try any scary games in there with friends at night, but I definitely believed in the superstitions. Instead of holding my breath, I heard to cross your fingers. I don't think about it too much now-a-days, but sometimes I find myself unconsciously crossing my fingers! XP

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  45. such a fantastic mix of vintage and I love the shoes!

    xo
    i wander, i wonder

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  46. I wanted to tell you that your outfits brought me to your blog, but it is your writing that has made me stay for so long...

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  47. if you ever take a trip to South America, go to Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, and visit the Recoleta Cemitery. It is really neat.

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  48. Love the outfit, great post! XOXO, www.NatalyasCloset.com

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  49. Keiko, Love ur hair n outfit...=)

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  50. Such a heart wrenching post! Thanks for sharing so personal. Such an inspiration. Thank you!

    Sabrina Says

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  51. When I was younger, my parents pulled my brother and I out of daycare and brought us to a cemetery parking lot every Wednesday for lunch. We sat in the bed of the truck and looked out into the graveyard. It was beautiful and I grew a respect for graveyards from my experience. I always associate graveyards with beauty and peace now.

    Lovely outfit!

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  52. Hi Keiki, I used to love reading your entries on LJ so I was very happy to have stumbled upon your new blog. I have to admit that graveyards give me the creeps. I did however visit a graveyard in Tokyo during cherry blossom season and it was breathtakingly beautiful.

    Siobhan

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  53. Lovely post Keiko. It made me think of the huge cemetery we used to drive by when I was a kid. Except I was terrified of it and used to crouch down in the car to avoid looking at it. Im not sure why!
    That epitaph was really lovely. x

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  54. There is something special about cementeries and tombstones.
    In my family all our relatives are buried in crypts beneath churches.
    I remember going in there while still in middle school and roaming around and reading the names and dates. I would come accross crypts with pictures, crypts where babies had been buried and could only wonder. Once I got locked in as they closed them after 6pm and I was wondering around and nobody realized I was there. Thankfully it was a really short time.
    If you think you are creepy, well I put a down payment on my crypt 3 years ago....

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