FINNERAN K. MUZZEY, MA
I am a tulip.
If you've seen my pictures (which, c'mon, they're all over this page), then you've probably noticed the tulip tattoo that covers a good portion of my left forearm. It's one of my favorite tattoos. It's meaning is deeply symbolic to me.
For one, it's a roundabout homage to my Aunt Vivian who remains the most influential person I've ever had in my life (and I've got some really spectacular people in this life, y'all). That's a story for a different day though.
The more relevant symbolism of my tulip tattoo to this blog post is that I, myself, am a tulip.
You know what's great about tulips? They need the most pristine conditions to thrive. On the surface, they're not some hardy flower that blooms beautifully and remains no matter how poorly you take care of it. Tulips need a specific, ideal set of conditions to thrive; once they have it, they bloom beautifully and wither away once the conditions are gone.
Seems like a silly thing to be great about them, right? Idealistic setting = perfection? Great! If only we all had that.
But it is beautiful. It's beautiful because they never actually die... they just wither, crumble, fall, disappear for a bit, and then once the ideal conditions return, then BAM! there they are again... beautiful, thriving. Remove the ideal conditions, they fall again. Return the ideal conditions, they rise again. And repeat, over and over again. Forever.
I have no shame in saying I'm a scrappy kid from the streets. I come from a mostly crappy biological family. I have a history of repeatedly bad, neglectful, and abusive circumstances that are no longer my baggage, just a part of me. I don't thrive. I survive. And, most of the time, I don't care about thriving. It's whatever, I'm a survivor and I love that about me. You can leave the thriving for the other flowers. I'll take the survivors any day. They got great stories.
It's little surprise to anyone in my inner circle that this semester has been rough. I spoke with a treasured friend yesterday and she counseled me to stop trying to fix my pain. Hold it, own it, embrace it, love it. After all, we don't try to fix our happiness. Why do try to fix our pain?
So that's it. Right now, I suck. I'm surviving. I'm in the space of the very, very not ideal conditions needed for blooming. I'm the tulip bulb, burrowed deep into the safety of the ground, waiting for ideal conditions to return. You won't see my beautiful flower, you won't be marveling at the gorgeous, bright colors of me. But if you look closely enough, you'll see that that, THAT, is exactly where my true beauty lies. Because the ideal conditions will return and when they do... cover your eyes because my colors will be blinding.
I am tulip because, no matter the conditions, no matter the harshness of the climate, I will always return. I will never be kept down. I will always survive.