Lights and Fireflies

CREATIVE WRITING, LIFE

Tonight I almost tripped over a firefly.

Well, not exactly. I was out for a run and it was around 9 at night. By that time, nearly the only light in my suburban neighborhood comes from scattered lampposts and the flickering of televisions in living room windows. Which means it’s hard to see uneven sidewalks elevated by tree roots, especially if you’re distracted by the first firefly of the season.

Every year I look forward to that first firefly – it’s as if the illuminated case holds within it all the wonders of childhood summer: dripping popsicles and ice cream cones, late night sprinklers, playing out in the streets and watching thunderstorms from my bedroom window. My birthday.

But now it’s a different kind of summer, because for first time in years I’m totally and completely free. And of course, this may be my last summer in that sense.

Having just graduated from college, I’ve been struggling to accept that sense of freedom, since my previous life was defined by never being free. I can’t accept summer for what it is, an open in-between period when it’s acceptable to spend hours shopping or tanning at the pool. I can’t accept that I should relax. (But should I?)  

Apparently, there’s no need to power walk to the pantry just to get a handful of crackers and get back to work. I can sleep in if I want to, and accompanying my mother on a long trip to the grocery store will make no difference in my plans for the day, and will certainly not set me back from the nonexistent pile of work I still need to get done.

Because my goals — write more often, keep up with the news, spend more time with my family — are all rather vague “self-improvement” goals that do not have a set timeline. But I have this irrational fear that by letting down my guard, by not filling my free days with something like the antithesis of relaxation, I’ll lose the drive that powered me through my college years.

As I continued my run tonight, which itself had been an escape from my too-relaxing book and movie, I realized this summer is so unlike “real life” that it’s hard to define what my ideal summer would even be. By the time I made my way back up the road, careful to watch for tree roots, the fireflies had retreated to wherever they go between dusk and dawn.

I opened the door to my house, greeted by central air and the possibility of spending the rest of my night doing whatever I feel like.

It’s summer and I’m not sure what that will mean.

Continued since 1981…

CREATIVE WRITING, DESIGN, PHOTOGRAPHY


The Lennon Wall in Prague used to be a portrait of John Lennon that’s been covered over since the 1980s with layers upon layers of paint. People began writing messages of freedom when the country was still under Communist rule. It was painted over several times by authorities, but always sprang back, more colorful than before.

Above is a photo montage of pictures I took while visiting the Wall in April. The Wall symbolizes freedom, peace, and unity. But what I found so striking about  it was how the graffiti can be looked at in one of two ways: either as a whole, a collaboration of colors built over thirty years, or as thousands of individual phrases, words, and signatures, each existing in their own space. And because of the context, even the messiest, most indecipherable handwriting means something here.