2003, it was another long year for me. I was living right outside of Philadelphia and working for Verizon. It was a terrible job that paid really well. I sold ads for the yellow pages, and during my tenure, there learned everything I loved and hated about the corporate world. I drove a Dodge Durango that guzzled gas and was much larger than I needed. I lived in a twin home that had been built in a new development with perfectly lined streets. I had a yellow lab named Maine and a diamond on my finger. It was terrible.
I was caught in a world of supposed to’s and not want to’s. I was living the great American lie that your future meant marriage, dogs, SUVs, and new construction. I was young and naive with enough money to think I was settled. Then it happened. The engagement ended, the house sold, and I got fired all within a three month span. Luckily I’m resilient AF.
All of my belongings were thrown in large black trash bags and I ran. I ran home to my family right around Thanksgiving. I got through the holidays as best I could. On New Years Eve, I took two Tylenol PMs and slept into the New Year. Determined to fix the mess I had created, I found a really crappy apartment in Ardmore and started to rebuild.
The apartment had roaches and zero space. It was old and drafty. My heart had just been broken, so I was feeling immense sadness, but luckily my friends were there to help me through. They came to the new pad and helped me decorate with Ikea findings and cocktails. We turned that studio into something liveable. And live I did.
I was in my 20s and fearless. I loved boys, music, and going out. My career was in shambles, so I decided to start bartending for some extra money. The late nights behind the bar filled my pockets with enough cash to spend weekends down the shore. I enjoyed bartending and ended up teaching classes at a local bartending school. It was a really fun and magical time.
My good friends had just opened a restaurant in center city, and when I wasn’t working, I was there. Ready to help out if needed, I spent most of the time perched on a barstool talking to the regulars and one particular waiter. He was rude and aloof, always wearing headphones when not waiting on a table. One night I watched him eat some sushi, and we exchanged our first words, “Wasabi”. That was it. I was in love.
We dated for a few years. It was a wonderful and tumultuous relationship filled with passion and aggravation. We were both stubborn and restless. We were committed to outwitting one another and spent too much time looking for a fun that probably didn’t exist in reality. But I was in love with his mind. The way he thought, the way he spoke, and the things I learned from him.
We talked a lot about music. He introduced me to Ziggy Marley. Ziggy’s album “Dragonfly” was released in 2003 after one listen, I was drawn to it. I listened to it on repeat. There was something about that album that spoke to me. To this day, I will go back and listen to it whenever I need to be reminded of a life lived.
Fast forward a few years later, and it should be no surprise that the waiter and I inevitably had a terrible breakup. I was left alone and heartbroken once again.
I pulled out my Ziggy album and listened to each lyric. It pulled me from my abyss and gave me light. I started reading about dragonflies and what they signified. The universe was telling me to pay more attention to his majestic animal. For me, It became a symbol of hope and I became the Dragonfly.
“In almost part of the world, the Dragonfly symbolizes change, transformation, adaptability, and self-realization. The change that is often referred to has its source in mental and emotional maturity and understanding the deeper meaning of life. The Dragonfly’s scurrying flight across water represents an act of going beyond what’s on the surface and looking into the deeper implications and aspects of life. The Dragonfly moves with elegance and grace. The Dragonfly is iridescent both on its wings and body. Iridescence shows itself in different colors depending on the angle and how the light falls on it. The magical property of iridescence is also associated with the discovery of one’s own abilities by unmasking the real self and removing the doubts one casts on his/her own sense of identity.“
In 2009, I was faced with heartbreak again. My then boyfriend, and now ex-husband, and I split for about six months. I was reliving my past. All of the previous heartbreaks compounded and I was feeling very low. What is a girl to do? The answer is – get a new tattoo.
I found the perfect one. It was a black outline of a dragonfly but the body was the letter “J”. Our friend, Sal, had just started tattooing so I called him immediately. We met at his house and the new tattoo became a part of me forever. The dragonfly was a symbol of my rebirth … again.
Now here were are ten years later, Sal has become one of the most sought after tattoo artists in the area. It was time for my dragonfly to rebirth again. Sal made it a thousand times better than I could have imagined, and once again, it is a symbol of change and light.
The dragonfly has been with me longer than any relationship. It has been my comfort in dark times and a reminder in happy times. It is more than a symbol, as it is part of my being.
Thank you to Ziggy for giving me music. Thank you to the heartbreaks that proved I was stronger than I could imagine. Thank you to those late nights for giving me memories. Thank you to the boys that let me go because they knew I had more to do. Thank you to the dragonfly for being my soul.