First hot night of the year has it’s traditions.
One of them, I call The Lilac Parade. It’s an exercise I undergo at last once a year, on the first hot night of spring, when the lilacs are everywhere abloom and the first of the summer migrants return to set candles in their cottage windows and wind down together after supper with drinks and murmurs.
It’s a meditative exercise, by way of cycling through the old fairy kingdom of the quiet new-englandy neighborhoods of old cottages on winding hilly streets. Old crooked stone pathways through hedges and lilac bushes, threading this spiderweb tapestry of pathways like something out of a blue velvet dream.
I apply deliberate aesthetic myopia, taking in my passing surroundings as tightly cropped photographs or brightly lit shadow-boxes. A short picket fence adjacent a narrow sidewalk. A balcony overlooking a wood. A patch of tall grass with taller grass behind. I compare each still frame I fly by to the entirety of my life. Equally brief; equally anonymous; equally beautiful.
From my meditation, waves of memory surfaced. Mostly of a feeling. That camaraderie between very young adult coworkers, long into the night, long into each other’s company. The strong bonds that come with them, and all the adjacent people- friends of friends- that do too. That feeling of being with your peers; your equals. A shared sense of humor. Of purpose. Of hope, excitement, experimentation. Pursuits of pleasure and pain.
I felt it, and I smelled the lilacs on the breeze, and before long I found myself looking through the window of the abandoned husk of what used to be a 7-11, when I used to live in a little loft apartment just across the bulldozed dirt lot that used to be a Family Video. Across the street, the old movie theater- now a vacant hole in the ground- brought me joy and stories throughout my entire childhood and young adulthood.
I stood there and let the warm memories of that time and place haunt me a long while before pedaling off. I feel like the only character to survive a world that used to lay directly beneath this one. A tiny still frame of a world, or a brightly lit shadowbox.
Last updated May 30, 2023