My son calls every weekend, usually after supper, when the long afternoon sunlight begins to dim. I sit in my apartment with the lights off, and as we talk, I watch the day turn from light to twilight.
Tonight I asked him about lightning bugs: where there any where he lived? I couldn’t remember — he is, for another few weeks, living in the town where he grew up. I did not live in that town nearly as long as he. There are many things I don’t remember about the town, or those days.
He said no, there aren’t any lightning bugs. I began talking about the Midwest summer evenings of my youth, being dismissed to the back yard after supper, to run and burn off energy, to get out from underfoot. Those evenings we waited for that moment when, in the thick summer evening air, the sky would light up with the dozens of neon green lights flickering from the insects we gleefully chased. We captured them, put them in jars, or pinched one between our fingers to write out names in the twilight sky. It was a childhood summer evening ritual.
I asked him if there were lightning bugs where he lived, and he said no. I asked if he had ever seen a lightning bug, and he said yes, the summer he was an intern in Washington, DC. Of course, I thought to myself. He would have, there. We talked a little longer, the day became night, and I said goodbye. I watched the twilight dim to darkness. I thought of lightning bugs and childhood, and him.
I know he’ll call next week. Sometime soon he’ll be returning to where I live, and he won’t be calling me on Sunday evenings to check in and see how I am. We’ll see each other nearly every day, and what we talk about will be different. We’ll talk to each other, and it will be good, but it will be a different type of conversation. It won’t be the talk of a son calling a father.
I’m going to miss the phone calls.
(Image from Flickr.com)