We’re at my mom and dad’s. It’s hot here. The sticky, buzzy kind of summer heat that makes the dirt basement of my parents’ house bloom and fill the floor above with an olfactory timestamp: mid-July in this creaky old house by the marsh. Two of my three children are naked. One is making a geyser from a garden hose. There’s a tent being assembled in the backyard and a thunderstorm threatening.
It’s a relief and a privilege to be able to open a screen door and let kids tumble out of it. Our toes are thankful for the quick access to cool grass. Our fingertips are stained purple from farm-stand blueberries. There are chickens to chase and a cousin-made fort in the shady part of the yard.
But there’s no escaping the mucky soup of rage and sorrow that burbles just below the surface. In the morning, my dad reads the newspaper while my mom asks for the headlines and the news is all the same. A deadly virus, a craven response, lives left hanging in the balance of terrible options.
I’ve set myself up to work in four different places today, trying to find the right combination of cool and quiet and working wi-fi. Before I know it, there’s a sweaty head wedged under the crook of my elbow. There are watermelon juice rivulets on dusty bellies and a baby with too-long fingernails digging into the flesh around my ribcage. It’s all so sweet and so maddening and I swear I’ve written only three sentences since the last time there was a child’s head wedged under my armpit.
We fall asleep to the whir of fans, our sheets kicked around our ankles, phantom fireflies still flashing behind our eyelids. Why do they have fire in their butts? Silas is incredulous. I am too, but not about the fireflies. They make perfect sense to me.
How about you?