It’s late summer now, and I’ve spent the last week or so thinking, at the most random times, that it’s firefly season.
There are no fireflies here. In fact, I had never seen a firefly until I went to Florida for my aunt’s wedding when I was 13. At the time, I was young, extremely stupid, and even more self-absorbed than I am now (but without any amount of love for myself… my narcissism was dormant for most of my teenage years, as it is for most). Not a time in my life I look back on with any real fondness. I was also still possessed by my near-crippling fear of insects (which has greatly abated with time, though I still don’t have a particular fondness for those little buggers). The fireflies that winked on-and-off outside my grandmother’s condo did not fascinate me. And when my father caught one and tried to show it to me, I freaked the fuck out and locked myself in the bathroom and cried while they laughed themselves hoarse (eventually, they released the bug and I exited my hidey-hole).
As I said, not a strong time in my past.
The only other time I’ve seen fireflies was in Michigan. Particularly the summer of 2008, the one year I remained in EL during those lazy summer months. I was twenty then, and more possessed of the modicum of maturity I have gathered up over the years.
Older and wiser, you might say. And while I was indeed older (a full seven years, which is nothing to scoff at when it equates to a third of your life up to that point), whether or not age has brought any greater wisdom is still up for debate.
Regardless, that summer I spent the final weeks absolutely entranced by fireflies. The late-night walks I dragged my housemates on with near-nauseating frequency (or took alone, if I couldn’t convince anyone else to get off their asses) shifted to twilight wanderings along the Red Cedar (alone). Cigarettes with Squeaks on our front stoop inevitably ended with me staring off into space, watching the flashing insects and ignoring whatever it was Squeaks was going on about. My near daily trips to the library (that was the summer spent reading poetry and entirely too many plays… in retrospect, I could have dropped the latter bit and saved myself a lot of grief in the future) now tended to occur near dusk.
I was a junkie. These insects were like a drug. They were the constellations I didn’t get to see anymore. Traveling through the grass between Mason Hall and GR was like taking a spacewalk.
There are benches near Mason (which carry a variety of memories for me, but those can be recounted another day), and I would often find myself sitting there come sunset, watching the fireflies begin their light show among the grass and trees. On one such occasion, as I sat down, I noticed the dark figure of a man with a backpack walking away from me. Caught up in the romance of the moment (something that happens to me frequently, surprisingly enough- and no, I’m not talking about love when I refer to romance in this case), I found myself creating a story for this silhouette.
It became one of my favorite poems (that I’ve written).
In retrospect, those lingering moments of beauty I found on the quiet campus late that summer were a harbinger of a change in me so profound that I have only recently fully recognized it and still have difficulty adequately putting it into words.
But those moments among the fireflies, short-lived and fleeting as they were, are moments I will forever equate with perfect peace and beauty.
I just kind of miss fireflies. That’s all.