Spring is like a reunion with nature. “Oh hello, crocus! A little early for you, isn’t it? No? Hmmm…” “Oh hi daffodil and hyacinth!” “Oh is it forsythia time already?” Then the tulips show up and I know who’s coming next. I start to get excited. I start looking around, inspecting buds, get nervous stomach while I anticipate … the azaleas. I can’t tell you how many car accidents I’ve almost had ogling an azalea’s audaciousness. And like old friends, they may be more or less than you remember. Shorter or louder or shallower but that’s not as important as the comfort of familiarity. I see you dogwood, eastern redbud and white flowering pear. They mark the season, the end of sweaters and down covers, the opening of windows and longer days. You look up and reunite with the color green and you only realize, just then, how much you missed it. Like that girl in homeroom who you sat next to every morning for three years straight.
This year, I didn’t bloom. So I didn’t go to reunion. I didn’t want anybody to see my unopened buds falling off skinny brown branches. So I stayed in hibernation. Disdaining the warming air, ignoring the brightening sun and the promise of discovering new beauty in old friends. I stayed underground, huddling under dirty clumps of snow somehow enduring in the last of winter’s shade. So I didn’t go. I didn’t want my own disappointment to become that of my peers. I spared them their sympathy. They probably didn’t notice my absence though. You never notice the bulbs that don’t pop up. There’s just a vague understanding of space unfilled.
Next year though… next year I will fill it and they will say, “Oh there you are! You’re doing what? That’s great! You look great! It’s so good to see you again!” And I will smile and shine and bask as I struggle to remember all their names.