I had admired my neighbors irises many times, but had no idea the plant that grows every year had the potential to be a blooming iris. Sure enough, when I pulled into the driveway on Monday, I noticed immediately that the flower had bloomed. It was stunning.
It was clearly a sign, I thought. Something fantastic was about to happen. And I needed something fantastic to happen. Sender and I, who had been involved in a casual relationship for several months, had been in the process of figuring out what to do with our romantic relationship that seems to have evolved into more of a friendship. It had been a tiring process, as he and I started to let go of the security we'd found in each other. I'd come to count on Sender to be available for dinner, companionship, and a shoulder to lean on that somehow provided a different sort of comfort than be found among family and platonic friends. He took me on my first post-divorce date, he was the first person to hold my hand again or put his arm around me in romantic affection after nearly a year long void of that sort of special, intimate, contact. I needed him, right at that very moment, and he will be dear to me always.
As our relationship fizzled the way these things do, with a reduced amount of text messaging but still the occassional, "Wanna go to lunch this week?" I felt at once scared of treading the single waters again, and hopeful. I had a plan. I had always had a plan. And when I have a plan I am focused, and driven. That beautiful purple iris bloom was my sign that my plan was right on track, no matter how scared I was feeling.
My hope was promptly cut short, though, with an unexpected - unplanned - message. A kink in the plan. A great, big kink, and the kind I can't unravel. The kind that is completely out of my control. The kind of kink you feel in your heart; the kind of helplessness you feel in your gut. The kind of kink that I had considered might arise, but which I waved off because I knew I couldn't plan for it or do a damn thing about it if it ever came up.
I'm a planner. I'm a go-getter. "Why do you pursue men?" my therapist asked. I do for a lot of reasons. I do it because most men who I would be interested in are not the type that would pursue someone like me. I do it because I like to be in control. I do it because when I want something, I go out and get it.
"You do," said my mom. "Like a law degree. But some things aren't yours to have." I picked at my plate while I considered what she'd just said. Not mine to have? Like people?
I wanted a husband. I searched and searched, my eyes on the end goal, passing on anyone who I didn't think I could get to the finish line. I caught him. I married him. I began working on my plans for the rest of my life until I planned, and organized, and scheduled myself into an unplanned divorce.
I wanted a baby. I wanted several babies. I had wanted them for as long as I can remember. I'd been naming them since I was 13. I calendared their due dates even before they were conceived. Like clockwork, their existence was detected with a home pregnancy test two weeks after they came into being. I began stockpiling diapers, clothes and furniture. I made lists of names and meanings and practiced writing them and saying them out loud. I picked out nursery decor. I planned, and organized, and scheduled my children's lives never imagining with either pregnancy that all of the plans would be unnecessary. I planned them, until I broke them. That was NOT part of the plan. That was NOT supposed to happen. I learned a hard lesson that people, not even our children, are not ours to go out and get, and have, and keep. I was shocked to learn I was miscarrying my baby. I was shocked to learn I would lose my next baby. I'm always shocked by this kind of news because I don't really hope and dream tentatively, I hope and dream with faith and confidence.
I can say that I'm a planner, but my plans are often born out of impulse and governed by emotional wants and childish impatience. I don't feel halfway, I feel from the bottom of my heart and it drives me and that drive is my success and my undoing all at once. I set my sights, and I march ahead and I pursue what I want because I want it. Gabriel was just as determined. He decided he was going to live ten days, and so he did, in spite of statistics. I'm not sorry that I gave him my strong will.
I'm not sorry for the way I love and care - deeply, and with abandon. I'm only sorry for the way I show it - desparately and wildly and unrestrained. It strikes me now that maybe this isn't the best MO.
I wanted grass. I got grass. Every day I find myself fussing over the grass, watering the dry patches of sod that haven't taken quite yet, scolding Noelle for trying to pull up the sod, tip-toeing across a lawn that two large dogs run across and wrestle and play on all day while I'm at work. The dry patches still haven't taken.
But before Saturday I don't think I had ever touched the iris. I didn't pull the leaves in the spring, or trim them back when they wilted in the fall. I didn't give it any special attention. I just let it be, and it became this beautiful thing that I never even noticed was there. It makes me wonder what else I have missed in my narrow focus and pursuits. I wonder what I've lost because I've fussed too much or tried too hard. What kinds of things would have grown if I hadn't tried so hard? How many more irises are out and the next time I see one, will I have slowed down enough to recognize it?