I remember the first time I saw a firefly. Time stopped – literally – like someone had frozen life in its frame and all that moved were the small, glowing lights drifting through the darkness.
Birmingham, AL – 2008. My family was unloading the car and dragging suitcases into the house we’d be staying at for the week. We were in town for the National High School Speech and Debate tournament. My mind was filled with things that tend to preoccupy sixteen-ish year old girls: friends, boys, clothes, foreign policy and international treaty reform… But the hours of riding in a muggy, cramped car and the apprehensions of the coming week vanished when those fireflies appeared.
The rest of the week I could count on sitting on the hood of our car for a few minutes and letting all my worries melt away – it didn’t matter that my braces hadn’t come off in time for the tournament or that I was the only one of my friends not to advance in my category. It didn’t matter that so-and-so hadn’t talked to me or that next year seemed confusing and far away. It was just me and the fireflies.
But we don’t have fireflies in San Diego, so when life gets overwhelming I have to close my eyes and picture them there instead. Usually that takes too much effort and I just find myself standing in a VONS line with four boxes of fudgesicles.