I've always loved Tiger Lilies. Tall. Vibrant. Orange. Their roots withstand. I await their blossom every Spring. As the green leaves emerge, then long shoots sprout from within, they shrug their shoulders as if always ready for a hug and they lean in a little to share their love. They confidently tower in the sunlight and greet each morning with determination in their eyes. I look forward to their life each year as they grow stronger.
This past year, I have grown stronger too. I have traveled through 30 US states, lived in a tent for 6 weeks in the desert, mentored 1,800 fifth and sixth graders, I gained confidence by leading volunteers, I helped restore a historic building, create a community garden, and ran a wood chipper! Even with all that participation, I reflected, prepared and most importantly learned. I learned how to be positive and I learned how to be inspirational.
Being able to travel, work with several non-profits, learn in-depth about diverse cultures, be a part of a community that is helping a community all while never being able to escape your teammates was life changing. AmeriCorps NCCC was a gift.
So I finish one adventure, I'm currently immersed in "home-life," stepping up to the plate of my next bold move, Habitat for Humanity in Portland, Oregon and I can't help but imagine my own future roots. I actually laid in bed last night, staring at a map of the US on my iPhone and narrowed down the only 10 states I can see myself settled in. I read the other day, "Each moment, we die to the present so the future can unfold." And with my future resting on my present, I need to grab these current moments and hold on tight.
ten states: California, Oregon, Louisiana, Florida, Ohio, Pennsyvania, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island
Right now, I'm back in a familiar place but things are different and I'm slowly realizing home is where love grows. Hell, who am I kidding, love is everywhere! Home is where whomever you consider your family is and I love my family. I love planning and throwing summer parties that go off without a ounce of trouble and I even love cleaning out my parents basement with my dad in preparation for our 2012 Yard Sale Extravaganza at the house!
Tiger Lilies came with my parents house. Mom always hated them. They were rooted deep all around the front stoop and my father would tell me how committed these plants were. As if he was intimidated, he told me that when the time came that Mom wanted them gone, we would have to chop them down, hack the roots to bits, dig deep down beyond the plant and remove all the dirt… or else they would come back! Then there is the problem of, where do we put what we dug up because they'll relocate!
My roots are in New England, though I feel a pull to be everywhere all at once. Where can I set my roots? At least I've got a list of ten places now. I need a resilient system like the lilies, reroot, remove, relocate, rebirth.
Until the time came when Mom wanted the lilies gone, I never believed my Dad when he told me that they could relocate. How could something that was torn from it's roots be relocated?
This year, getting home in late July, just in time for the Summer Olympics, I quickly realized the flowers on my Tiger Lilies had come and gone. Their stems were but hollow, dried reeds ready to be yanked. Long, green, leggy leaves relaxed wilted yet outstretched on the bark mulch along the property line.
I remembered Dad and little me, standing in front of deep holes in the Earth, shovels in our hands, sweat in our eyes, looking at the dug up, tangled clumps we had thrown along the property line.
It's been a while and lots of improvements have been made in the yard over the years but the plants still thrive, several feet away but leaning toward the spot they use to reside along the front stoop.
This year, olympian Oscar Piscatorius inspired me more than my old lady lilies were able during my absence but after some time of transition, they will arise with renewed sense next year. We all will. The lilies, myself, Oscar. You will too. We always do.