May 13, 2005 at 8:57 pm (Hellos and Goodbyes)

I never picked the tulips in the flowerbed along the front of the house. Occasionally I picked the daffodils in the circle garden in the middle of the front lawn, and I always, always picked the lilacs from the huge bush at the corner of our lot. I only liked one of the tulips there anyhow–I hadn't picked the flowers out, so the red and yellow tulips surrounded by tiny grape hyacinth weren't my idea of beauty. It always reminded me of a kindergarten classroom, all colors that would have names next to them. I was always told tulips didn't have a scent, so I saw no reason to decorate the house with them, preferring to leave them outside.

This last trip to the house was different. I never knew how the deep, deep pink tulip got in amongst the nursery school setup in that bed, since the house's former owner planted it long before Honey bought the house for us to live in, back in May 2000. But there it was every spring, standing elegantly, its slightly ruffled petals standing out in the Barneyland of the bed I'd always intended to dig up and replant with something else, lavender or perhaps more of the same type of tulip since that color was so different from the ones around it.

Yesterday, though, I picked the tulip.

It came up this year while the reds and yellows didn't, once again standing high and proud, a diamond amongst the shit. After I'd yelled that enough was enough, we were fucking DONE in this place and it was time to go home, I bent to the bed and reached to where the single leaf on the stem began to stretch itself out in the springtime sun. I plucked it, letting a thumbnail part one piece of stem from the rest. Straightening, I hobbled to the car, back once again done in by the strain of packing up my life.

I studied the flower–already the petals were protesting the separation from the bulb and leaves supporting its majesty by cringing close on itself ever so slightly against the rudeness I'd finally brought myself to commit. The black car was close and hot, so the open door provided just enough breeze for me to smell the freshness in my hand.

The petals weren't solid-colored; the dusky rose was streaked with the tiniest pinstripes I'd ever seen in my life, delicate white against the magenta. Peering inside, even in the heat of the day, I saw a single droplet of water on nearly every one of the seven petals, hanging by an invisible adhesive, quivering as a delicate touch moved them aside so I could peer into the inside yet remaining exactly where it'd been the entire time I'd puzzled the tulip's mysteries. I spent about ten minutes studying the flower, reveling in the delicate beauty I'd only now dared to disturb.

Filthy from digging through the remnants of a life I was about to leave, I stroked the cool, tender petal against my cheek, reveling in the sweetness so close on a day so awful. The tulip would be a beauty coming from the maelstrom of garbage surrounding the last three years. A movement in the corner of my eye distracted me–Honey reached for the car door, ready to leave this last time.

With a quick movement, my hand grasped the soft head of the flower, separating petals, pistils, stamens, and pollen from the light green stem. One toss scattered the deep pink across the driveway, fluttering to the concrete, soundless against the drone coming from the highway 500 yards away. I didn't want to look at the flower in my new room, Honey's old room. I didn't want to picture that flower as it had grown every spring in that atrocious flowerbed that I never liked, but wasn't physically able to do anything about. I had my memory of the bloom in my hand. I had the last ten minutes of minute detail as I'd tried so hard not to release the tears I'd been fighting off for the last nine months–I didn't need anything more.

The incredible, delicate scent of the tulip decorated my hand all the way back to Honey's mother's house.


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