My mom loves cemeteries, when I was a kid this used to be flabergasting to me. Although, I could see that some of them are very pretty, I always felt like I was stepping somewhere wrong. Partly in a “I’m scared of dead bodies” way, I was a child after all, but also in a “this is a sacred place, I feel like I’m intruding” way. I couldn’t have articulated this, but there was always something that felt wrong about strolling through a cemetery for entertainment.
And then I went to Paris, and became obsessed with the idea that the trip would be wasted if I didn’t kiss Oscar Wilde’s grave. I dragged my friend Gena through the Père Lachaise twice (we couldn’t find his plot before closing time the first day) to be able to kiss the stone:
I can’t really articulate why this felt important, but it did. And it made me rethink my stance on graveyards a bit. I still sometimes find them creepy, and a fresh grave will always make me feel like I’m imposing on someone else’s grief, even if they aren’t there. But these are public places for a reason, and they are set up for people to come pay homage in their own ways.
This is all a long way of introducing the fact that my museums professor had us go to the Texas State Cemetery this week. At first, this seemed weird, but then I got there, and it was like a mini-Texas version of the Arlington National Cemetery, which is of course meant to be a public institution, to commemorate heroes and teach visitors about their importance.
The cemetery is really well laid out and doesn’t feel claustrophobic to stroll through (an issue I have in the old New England ones my mother prefers). But it did take me a little while to find the stone I felt compelled to pay homage to: