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Archive for January, 2011

Dead butterflies

My friend Tracey took some of my recent kvetching and turned it into an eloquent blog post on the bitterness of hope. Her post in turn made me feel badly for not daring to post here more often. (And it is a question of having the nerve these days. Being brave enough to drag my corpse over here and write.)

My lament was that hope is like a butterfly. It’s beautiful and we chase it gaily across a meadow until … oops! We step over a cliff. Too bad about that.

In a year in which my book didn’t sell, my marriage ended, my agent left the business, my home remodeling project dragged on, and my personal relationships grew frayed or faded, my hope has turned into something else.

Stay out of the garage!

I remember going out to my grandfather’s garage one summer day and seeing a beautiful swallowtail butterfly at rest on the window sill. Kansas is a major through-route for migrating butterflies, so we see all kinds. Being a tenderhearted little kid, I got a step stool and opened the window so the butterfly could fly away. Only it didn’t because I was a day late. If I’d come and opened the window the day before, it might have flown free, but it was dead, its beautiful iridescent wings and drooping tail at rest in death.

These days it’s less that hope is a butterfly luring me over a cliff, but that I occasionally go into the garage and see its carcass on the window sill. Oh, I think, that’s right. I used to have hope. If only I’d come out here sooner and opened the window. Some days I accept that. I don’t even look at the next manuscript on my desk that I’m not yet brave enough to edit and query. Other days, I think that if only another butterfly would come into my garage, I would be there to open the window.

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