Monday, May 24, 2010

Late Bloomer

There has been a wisteria next to our driveway since we moved into this house, growing around a big gum tree. In the ten years we have lived here, it has never once bloomed. Not even a little. For several years, we tried everything that anyone suggested to get the thing to flower. We fed it, we starved it, we disturbed the roots, we cut it back. Nothing.

Eventually we gave up. We decided it was never going to bloom. I intended to dig it up, but have not ever quite gotten around to it. It continued to grow, and every year it continued not to flower.

Then this Spring, just before Easter, for no apparent reason, I noticed a single bloom hanging over the driveway. When I told The Wife, her response was, "Shut up!" She stopped whatever it was she was doing to come see. You would have thought I had found a pot of gold, or the face of Jesus in an oil stain, seeing how excited we were. It was kind of stupid.

Today I turn -- well, older. A little more than twenty years ago, on my thirty-somethingth birthday, I was served divorce papers. It was also my ninth wedding anniversary. At that point in my life, I had accumulated about a hundred credit hours toward no particular major at a series of ever less distinguished colleges and universities. I lived in a strange town, far from friends or family. I had a crappy one bedroom apartment that I couldn't afford, and a new job that I kind of hated. I was ending my third career in twelve years.

In short, I had less than no money, no prospects, and a seven year old Subaru station wagon with a slow leak in the right rear tire. I had failed at nearly everything I tried. My life was over, and I had a lot of sad, lonely years ahead of me. I was destined to end up selling cheap suits at Men's Wearhouse.* I had made a few new friends, and they were about all that was keeping me afloat.

Today, I have been married for more than ten years to a woman who is not crazy, and in fact makes me laugh almost every day. She will undoubtedly buy me a great birthday present and then worry that it is not good enough. I have two college degrees in a field I love. We live in a big, comfortable old house, and most mornings I drive three miles down the prettiest road in town to one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country, where I have ideas for a living. I still find plenty to complain about, but most of it is meaningless. My life is unbelievably sweet.

I hear people talk occasionally about how unsatisfied they are with their lives at 26 or 30, and I find this both humorous and sad. Humorous, because I know how young that is, and how much it can change. Sad, because I know that some of them will give up. A few will even be overwhelmed with despair, and cut the journey short.

Life can change in an instant. Whether lovestruck, lightning-struck, car-struck or hit with a realization, we all have moments on which our whole existence pivots, and takes a new direction. If things are good, savor every blessed moment. If you're waiting for things to improve, well, waiting serves a purpose, too.

In the end, we never know when the first bloom will appear. All we can do is wait, and grow, and try to believe that it will happen.

* I guarantee it.


  1. Me too, I'm a member of the late developer club. But I'm OK with that, and I like your analogy, especially as I also once had a wisteria that didn't bloom for 11 years. It was worth the wait (and the effort).
    Happy birthday :)

  2. Happy BD my love. Late bloomers are the best. OUR wisteria took its own sweet time, too. At least 12 years, and I would've dug it up but for the great narly twisted vines that held lots of bird's nests --how is that for analogy, too -- your wisteria is now 'ready' and next year it will show you why it's motto is: it sleeps, it creeps, it leaps!! We had so many early blooms this year it was a knock-out, and it bloomed earlier than any I saw in AR.

    Did not know you were married/divorced on the same day. Wow. My 30th BD was the worst, newly divorced and consigned to a life of you point out, life is many things, sometimes sweet, turns on a dime, but hang in there -- it's most always good....i am glad you are in my life. You're an impt part of it.

  3. happy birthday. you have no idea how much i needed to read this today... you found it, or it found you. whatever happened, the magic is that you appreciate it...

  4. Happy birthday! This was a terrific post- exactly what I needed today.

  5. Pueblo girl: Thanks. I sort of like the long and winding path.

    Wonder: You're too sweet, and a real blessing to have as a friend. I can't believe we've known each other this long.

    daisyfae: I hope things work out for you. It seems like the best scenery is on the road without guardrails.

    Whiskeymarie: Thanks. I'm glad to see you settling into your new home.

  6. Please let us know what gift darling D gave you this year! Her gifts always rock! Still waiting for that pizza dough recipe!

  7. Happy birthday! Wisterias do take a long time, they're a bit of a project. We haven't got one, but they're beautiful!