Butterfly Wings

When I was but 12 and new to a suburban neighborhood, I was thought largely a curiosity, being from the city. Girls liked the way I looked but I was far too insecure to have embraced it fully, and draw warmth and self esteem from it.Β  I remember and reflect on that time which seems so magically like a prior life. It was a sweet thing and there is one memory above all that plays like a short mystical film clip.

As afternoon light grew dim, there remained a soft golden glow when she appeared, dancing. She wore a light blue dress that had enough material to allow for what looked like wings. She then did a slow ballet of sorts. As she glided to music only she heard, I watched knowing she was dancing for me, and the moment became all at once ethereal, surreal, and frozen.

She moved back and forth with her arms extended like butterfly wings, fragile and graceful. I don’t remember all that I was thinking as I watched her move, but I do know I thought her insane. I think the moment was so strange I was able to place it permanently in memory, and as my life has unfolded that memory has remained precisely intact, and has become profoundly more meaningful.

I knew she lived around the block and for awhile I knew her name, but she was not someone I was attracted to and I really did think she was crazy. As I moved into my life she was quickly forgotten but every now and then I find myself coming back to that evening and allowing the clip to replay. Within it lives the mystery of youth, and a life just beginning.

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48 thoughts on “Butterfly Wings

  1. Life needs the “crazy” ones… the spirits that dance when they hear the music and sing when they have a song…to make any sense out of the rest of it all… You are wise to treat this memory kindly and I think your maturity has brought a little more understanding of the soul within that child. Children know how to embrace things before they learn to beware. I hope she hasn’t learned to be embarrassed by the act.

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    • my guess is she is embarrassed about nothing, and became an artist who allowed her sensitive soul to dance whenever and wherever it needed to. Had I been a bit more together at the time, I would have sought her out and allow her to teach me.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this, it’s rather personal. We all seem to have those certain memories that never leave you and become just one piece among many that make us the person we are. I have these sorts of memories, some wonderful, others not so nice. You write well, Mike.

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    • Thanks John. Yes, and the fascinating part for me is why some memories become frozen while most of what we encounter is just forgotten on a conscious level. This was easy for me to share as it was pleasant and beautiful. Mostly John, I am an open book. Thanks for this comment, bro.

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  3. An entry with no picture? I remember a stage in life when I would first peek and see if a book had pictures or illustrations… if it did, I’d take it home, if not, I’d put it back on the shelf. When I saw your post and realized it held no photo, I was surprised, but intrigued. I’m glad I read on. Thanks for sharing your “clip”.

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  4. I have memories of people in my youth who were looked upon as “crazy” and to be avoided. Really, they were just different. As an adult, I look back at these harmless people and regret that they were shunned, particularly considering some of the truly deranged people I’ve encountered on the road of life since.

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  5. I liked this softer side to you. On the other hand it’s much harder to comment. It almost feels like an intrusion into something quite private. The inclination to read more is certainly there, but I never seem to find enough hours in the day…. Suffice it to say this courage to reveal is mighty refreshing.

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  6. That’s a very sweet memory Mike, poor girl though, you thgought she was crazy, maybe she wasn’t, she was just expressing herself in artistic ways. I wonder what would happen if you run across her now. Thanks for sharing.

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    • I only thought her crazy because I was 12 and much more crazy than she would ever be.
      If I ran across her now I might well dance for her, and call it even.

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  7. The things that we retain from childhood impressions seem to have some sort of poignancy associated with them. For some it might be getting hurt and getting stitches for the first time, or maybe something scary or startling, or sometimes something just beautiful or strange not within our personal sense of ‘normal’. But, it is the strangeness which makes us look beyond ourselves I think….life is way richer for it. I think I might be in with those who think of your butterfly as a creative free spirit who could express herself when others may have been too self-conscious to feel that free. Maybe it reminds me of Isadora Duncan?

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    • I just read up on Isadora Duncan and yes so far as the flowing silk scarves I would say that is exactly like the image in my head. But the way she died! Holy cow!
      Thanks for this great stimulating comment Judy.

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      • No problem! While I knew about the scarf, I refreshed on Isadora too. I had forgotten about the many sad things that happened in her life, most especially the death of the children. Let us hope that your butterfly suffered none of those things. While writing another butterfly image emerged out of my subconscious…so now strains of ‘Dreams’ issues from my CD player in the next room. You’ve seen Stevie Nicks on the cover of Rumours right? She’s a butterfly.

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    • True enough. The less pleasant memories are generally tucked away in a safe place but I think they play too, like an evil villain waiting in the shadows. We humans are nothing if not resilient and worthy of study.
      Your comment is much appreciated. Did you get your lens sorted out?

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    • Yes, she was someone who was clearly brave enough to feel her emotions and express them as an artist, at a very young age. Thank you for this comment that somehow got past me. A late reply but sincere as well.

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  8. Dang, Mike. You’re almost as sensitive as I am. Maybe we were separated at birth? Just do me a favor and be very careful on that motorcycle. I had several when I was younger but, after two accidents- neither of which was my fault- I now drive an armor plated Hummer! Lousy gas mileage but at least I feel safe. Except, climbing up to it one day I slipped and threw my back out. Oh, and I’m in love with your image of the dancing girl in a light blue dress that had enough material for wings. Was she a blond, by chance? No, don’t tell me. In my memory, she was!

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    • She was a blonde. I am real careful on my motorcycle Paul but like you said it’s generally the other guy I need to worry about. A hummer eh? Gas mileage like my motorhome but you can go places I sure as hell can’t. Blondes and hummers…..gotta like that.

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      • Ok, actually I lied. But it was merely to make a point. I don’t drive a Hummer but I did have two accidents on a bike. A motorist ran a stop sign and I barely avoided him, though not the street. The second was driving into a gas station. The slight bump from street to driveway was covered in an oil spill.

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      • The only time I have laid down my bike, in 40 years, was this year, in my garage, doing 1/3 mph. My crash bar worked and I just lifted my bike from a sitting position. It weighs 650 lbs. I am quite a man. But all it would take is an imbecile, or an oil spill and I’d be hurt. I hear you.

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