Love it or hate it: Cemeteries

by Patty Templeton

Love itFourteen-year-old lil’ punk rock Patty had big dreams of a deep, dark love and banging in boneyards. Because, ya know, when you listen to The Cure and are obsessed with the supposed gritty underworld of adulthood, you think smoochin’ on tombstones and handjobs against crypts are romance. Alas, no groping of rocker dudes or rudegirls ever happened amidst the headstones for this shy weirdo. Not even the tamest of fantasies came true, which was, I nerdily report, to lean against an ancient burial oak and read Rimbaud to a skater dude I knew while he drew me pictures of crows. “Shyness is nice and shyness can stop you,” yer damn right, Morrissey.

There was no grand passion found for me in a deadyard, but I did discover solace. Cemeteries were and are where I hide away with a book or my journal. They’re where I go to enjoy the silence.

My favorite is Riverside Cemetery in Marshalltown, Iowa. It has rolling hills, towering trees, and the resting place of T. Nelson Downs, a sleight-of-hand magician who was Houdini’s best friend. I took pine cones, grave dirt, and a clipping of lilacs from it before I left town, and, well, what I do with those is a secret I am going to keep a while longer, friends.

— Patty TempletonHate itI am not macabre. My sense of humor may be dark, but my sensibilities are not. Neither are my activities. I like history but not so much to consider myself a buff (what qualifies someone as a buff?). This is why cemeteries are places I leave for others to visit.

Burying the dead is one thing that sets us apart from other beasts (though not elephants!), but I want nothing of it. Cemeteries hog the best real estate and prized landscaping in virtually any city, save for golf courses. And what do they use this beautiful land for? Being a huge downer.

A walk through any cemetery saddles you with babies who didn’t live a week, the old married couple who died within a month of one another, a fresh gravestone with fresh flowers and fresh sadness lingering in the air.

There’s something about walking atop all those bones, seeing gravestones that have been forgotten over time, and always being afraid you’re standing on (aka desecrating) someone’s beloved burial site. I have one solution to all of it: To stay away from cemeteries.

— David Holub


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