The lights that stop me

The rumors of Chicago’s devastation at the hands of a mighty derecho seem to have been somewhat overstated. Of course, we got sent home from work early and I’ve been holed up in my apartment all evening with the blinds closed, so I may not be the best person to ask about it. No trees have come flying through my window, though.

Raging thunderstorms like the one tonight are one of my favorite things about summer in the Midwest. Sure, we had them back home in California but not like here, where the ground seems to shake, the windows flash like cameras, and the car alarms all go off. I remember one time during my first summer here when I was riding down Butterfield Road in a car with my ex and saw lightning strike the road no more than 50 yards away. Part of my love for it all may be nostalgia for my early days here, when I was exhilarated by my newfound adult freedom and the new territory. It seemed like anything could happen.

Fireflies are another powerful symbol of those days for me. I had never seen one until my first night here, when one was briefly caught for me to examine up close. The memory’s a bit tainted now in hindsight, but the novelty’s never worn off. Lately, I’ve been scanning the patches of grass in my neighborhood for signs of their return.

One of the most stunning things I think I’ve ever seen was on the drive back from Pontiac one Fourth of July. There was lightning off in the distance, fireflies were milling around the fields, and we passed a new firework display with every town. The lights have all burned themselves into my brain like afterimages, I think.

Anyway, I’m tired and not thinking straight. Gratuitous poetics!


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