Tulips were the first flowers Ken gave me. Thirteen years ago, he dragged a mutual friend to the florist – What might she like? What kind of flower would say the right thing? – and together, they came back with a surprise bundle of tulips- 12 yellows, perfectly splayed.
They mean joy, he’d said.
I’ve loved yellow ever since.
Did you know tulips only last a few weeks in bloom? Two or three tops, in cold weather? A few days in hot?
It’s been raining, cold, dreary. Ken and I have been busying ourselves with projects – separate, mostly – me waking up with the birds just as he’s falling asleep. His days are full, bursting at the seams, and mine are taut but far more malleable. Bee fits in nicely – filling every margin, each corner, reminding us to pause, to catch the tulips while they’re still in bloom.
She’s such a joy, we whisper as we watch.
Last week, while readying ourselves for church, I noticed Bee’s summer shoes were already too tight, pinching around her pinky toes, leaving tiny indents in her heels.
Like a weed, she grows.
But more like a tulip.
Like a blip, like a glimpse, like joy.
Jumping shoes? I ask.
You know, shoes for jumping. For like, dirty stuff, she says.
Indeed, they are.
Yesterday, when the forecast offers us a sunny afternoon, when Ken’s schedule clears for an open window, when the clouds part and the clock stops, we pile into the van, each of us outfitted in jumping shoes.
We’re off to see joy.
Bee spends an hour gallivanting in the park’s wet grass, chasing squirrels, soaking her cuffs, dirtying her soles. We walk through tulips that will wither before the week’s end.
We made it here just in time, Ken says.
He’s right, and we leave grateful with buoyed spirits, glad we took the hour. Happy we made it, just in time.
Ken and I celebrated ten years of marriage last year – an entire decade of growth and wither, of bloom and fade, of immense joy and everything else.
Yesterday, as we chatted near the tulips, a sign in the park read this:
Believed by many to be the most romantic of flowers, tulips also represent elegance and grace. They are the 11th wedding anniversary flower.
Ten years last year.
This year marks eleven for us.
Time is funny. We pack it tight, we squeeze it dry, we take from it what we can. We pay the taxes, order takeout, sweep the dustbunnies, mow the lawn.
And every now and then, on an unmarked afternoon, we take pause to see the tulips.
We catch them just in time.
We watch them bloom.
We witness it all.
The immense joy, and everything else.
This essay was written for Zappos and Crocs, two brands I love and recommend for comfortable basics and amazing online service. If you’re in the market for your own jumping shoes, we’re wearing these, these and these!