IN THE BALMY NIGHT

11 May

I had forgotten how balmy spring nights can be in the south.  The hint of moisture in the air, the heavy hang of clouds, but still no rain falls.  But it is there looming on the horizon.  In the distance there is a rumble of thunder that will bring with it the torrents, not needed this spring.  You can stand outside and smell the soil and the hint of far off places where the clouds have traveled from.

As a child I would stand in the grass, smelling of the sticky heat of the day, my legs painted with clear fingernail polish to ward off the chigger bugs that would leave behind red bite marks.  There would be the scent of the honeysuckle, not yet bloomed and the mimosa tree blossoms not yet open and I would search the bushes and the trees for the first flicker of light.  A lightning bug meant summer was imminent and the nights would be as hot as the midday.

But the spring meant the storms would be fierce, the wind would howl and there was always a threat of tornadoes.  The air crackled with the electricity of danger and everywhere else seemed very far off.  I would count the caterpillars nesting in the tree and then worry for them as the rain sluiced great waterfalls against every surface.

After a rain, late at night when the breeze still managed to cool, I would step out onto the wet grass, my toes sinking into the mud and stare at the stars.  Later, in college, when I took astronomy during the winter months, I would wish I could have seen those same spring stars and understood more what I had seen as a child.  But then, I was just in awe of the dots of glittering somethings. 

Life was not simple or uncomplicated then.  I was not unfazed by pain or disappointment, whether it was in something or in someone.  I was just a girl, waiting for the storms to pass, waiting for the flowers to bloom, waiting for whatever lay ahead.  Sometimes I would try to will a future in existence, but it looks nothing like what I saw as a child.  I am not living anything that resembles the life I would wish upon the stars for.

Tonight when I stood outside and I complained I didn’t remember so many bugs when I was a child, I stopped for a moment.  I listened to the steady sound of whatever insect it was in the trees that hummed like downed power lines.  I looked at the stars, barely visible behind what were bright billowy clouds during the day, but were like discarded crumpled wads of paper now blocking the light.  I smelled the rain that will fall later when I’m asleep.

I am an adult now.  Not unfazed by pain or disappointment, whether it is in something or someone.  I’m just a woman, waiting for the storms to pass, waiting for the flowers to bloom again, waiting for whatever lays ahead.  Waiting in the balmy spring night.

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