Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Iris

On Saturday I noticed the hearty leaves that sprout on the side of my house in the spring had developed a bud, with deep purple petals beginning to push through.  I snapped a photo and sent it to Lindsey, who responded, "Ooo, purple!  I bet it's an iris."

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? 

1 comment:

  1. Funny how we can learn so much from just a bloom, isn't it? :)

    made me think of this post from quite a while ago... http://afterrainn.blogspot.com/2011/05/only-god-who-makes-things-grow.html