Fireflies and the Suit
After a 13-hour drive that left me delirious and a little drunk, I made it to St. Louis. A small town on the Illinois side of St. Louis to be particular. Spent a couple days in Southern Illinois/St. Louis with Sara on the way to Chicago for an old friend’s wedding. I love St. Louis, though it never really gets much attention for being a cool city. Century old buildings, the river, several incredible old Catholic churches. Some great bars with cozy atmospheres. It’s not unlike the townie feeling in Portland. Very intimate neighborhoods, from what I’ve seen of it.
My one task during my short stop in was to get my suit drycleaned. The wedding was in three days, and I needed it clean and pressed. The first obstacle was that I left half of the suit and my ties at Face’s condo. I called him the night I got into St. Louis and he told me he’d overnight it to me. Sweet. (Shortly before this conversation, I dodged what I anticipated would be an ass-kicking by a guy who goes by ‘Roscoe.’ That’s neither here nor there, but I think a concise way to set up the charged tone of my stay in St. Louis.) The suit jacket was on it’s way. The next day I dropped my pants off at a drycleaner in the French part of the city, to pick them up the following day. “This will all work out nicely, I thought.”
To divert from the suit, the rest of the day was terrific. I walked to the Arch, and rather than go to the top, I took a nap at the foot of it. Great nap. I sat around Sara’s bar, eating pizza with her and the people who own and run the place. The owner told me stories about napalm and Agent Orange and his first time getting stoned in Vietnam. Later we went to the same bar as the night before. Fun place, despite a terribly punned name. Sara and some friends shared a few shots with me at the foot of a stuffed Leprechan, listening to a (shocker) country-rock band. I was exhausted by the end of bartime, but there was a groundswell among a group of us to go to a place called “The Watershed,” which apparently is a place where drunk people go to walk in the mud among many bugs, and pee off of bridges. I was reluctant, but going to the watershed proved one of those serendipitous moments of chaotic times/travels that you just never can anticipate. Walking around in pitch black, through swampy, muddy trails. Surrounded by a small group of people I barely knew, and Fireflies! Fireflies. I’m 27 and had never seen a firefly. I couldn’t get enough of them. They’re like these tiny little zaps of neon spark that are really bugs. I mean, that’s amazing. I couldn’t stop watching them flare up and zip in one direction before fading out again. I picked up one of the flies and let it walk all over my arms and hands, only its little light visible, so it looked like a current crawling across my skin in the dark. Everyone was so sincerely happy for me to be seeing fireflies for the first time. It’s been years since I’ve felt so young to the world. Like, if these things can exist, and I didn’t know it, imagine what else is out there? A bunch of us sat on a concrete bridge over the water, looking out over the dark horizon and the fireflies, and getting bit by bugs until very late.
The next day, I went all around town picking up various parts of my suit. Jacket at Fedex, where I almost couldn’t pick it up since Face addressed it as Mr. Chair. Pants at the cleaners, where they weren’t done yet and I had to pick them up at a separate store where they had been shipped. But I ultimately collected all of the pieces in a tidy plastic bag. The tidy plastic bag was placed on the roof of the car where I couldn’t possibly forget it as I packed up the Honda. This is where you, the reader, think “No. There’s no way. It’s not possible.” I would have thought the same thing. But oh yes, reader, it is possible, since my suit is apparently on a roadside somewhere between St. Louis and Chicago. How have I made it this far in life, if I’m capable of doing something so moronic and inattentive, without realizing it until it’s far too late?