A Look On The Lighter Side
It’s a Great Big “Coming Out” Party!
The entire town was buzzing with the news.
“Have you heard? We can come out of hiding!”
“Yes, our terrible, long period of waiting is over. It’s finally safe to come out of our hiding places and go around uncovered in the out-of-doors.”
And with that, the 17-year cicadas decided to come out of their underground hideouts, spread their wings and start a raucous party.
I feel the same! I am finally ready to venture outside — I’ll be adventurous with only one mask at a time instead of two—because even though I am fully vaccinated, I think I’m naked with nothing at all on my face.
Golly, it sure is beautiful out here.
“What are these brightly colored things near the front porch?”
“Those are flowers! Daffodils and tulips and look — the lilacs and azaleas are still in bloom.”
I stumble haltingly over to the bushes as if I’ve never seen such things before and take some flowers into my hand. When’s the last time I saw spring flowers? I can’t even remember.
These days the way I feel goes beyond anything felt by a cicada — even a 17-year one — and more like being a survivor of nuclear winter. I pry open my door — shoving boxes and stacks of paper goods aside, watching dust cascade off them and onto the floor — and blink at the ball of brightness up in the sky.
The world looks mostly the same, except that random parts of the landscape have disappeared. Bed Bath & Beyond? Gone. Lord & Taylor? Gone. The Rite Aid in a nearby shopping center? Poof! Turned into a Walgreens.
Lord & Taylor’s demise hurts me the most; they had decided to stay and renovate and also had the best salespeople. The injustice is all the more stinging when you realize that Macy’s is still with us — the place where I have often been tempted to walk out with an armload of merchandise just to see if that at least might finally trigger some attention from a sales clerk.
Cicadas don’t have these problems. They just need to find a mate.
Luckily for me, I don’t need to find one — merely encourage the one I already have to come outside with me. For example, to the Town Dock, where it’s plenty exciting enough for us just to sit on a bench and feel the wind on our faces while we watch the waves.
“What is that feeling of heat?” I wonder. “On only one side of my body at a time? And why am I unable to see without squinting?”
“That’s the sun, Judy. Speaking of which, did you remember to bring any sunscreen?”
“I did not! I haven’t had a single thought about sunscreen for at least 17 months. Anyway, all of ours is probably expired.”
When I went into lockdown, I was still wearing my jacket with the winter lining. I remember being grateful that it was cold outside to keep our delivery groceries chilled until we could get them all wiped down and inside.
Then I put that jacket away. I was planning to throw it away before the weather got cold again.
Then came another winter, and I needed that jacket back out.
I no longer have any grandiose plans for it — or for any of my other clothes either. If they still fit, I will simply say a little prayer of gratitude and put them on. If they don’t, I will call a charity to come and haul them away.
After that, I will probably have a lot more room in my closets. I’m not saying I gained weight, stress-eating my head off through the pandemic. I’ll just say there are a lot of my clothes that seem to have shrunk.
It’s easier for a cicada.
Cicadas don’t have to worry about what if their clothes don’t fit. They just shed their skins when they’ve grown too tight and keep on growing.
Months after all the cicadas are gone you’ll be startled by coming across what looks like one of them, clinging to a blade of grass or a tree trunk and it’ll just be an empty husk. I used to find them rather creepy, but this year they will be a happy reminder that The Time of Endless Waiting has now ended for all of us.