I am writing this blog post ahead of schedule. Yes, I know it shatters the illusion that every three days I sit my ass down and peck out some post just for you, dear reader. I am writing this post at the height of cicada season in mid-June. Outside my office window I can hear the little buggers whirring and clicking and doing their every-seventeen-year-dance. I love it—how the air feels like it’s vibrating and the whole world is crawling with primal energy.
Last time the brood emerged from their earthen beds, I was nineteen—a short order cook who just decided to opt out of college with no real plans to return. After completing my last class (dean’s list that quarter, by the way), I took my Jeep and went camping. The cicadas were out in full force, chittering well into the night. The sound was almost deafening. The campground was deserted, save me and my little dog, Larry and a billion of our creepy crawly friends.
The whirring of the jet engines as I departed for Norfolk, Virginia, two days later sounded the same as the cicadas. My older brother, Brendan, was having an elective procedure at a hospital out there. The surgeon would mess up the surgery, killing Brendan for 34 minutes. After some emergency open-heart stitches and some medical malpractice, Brendan was alive again, albeit with severe brain damage. His life was entirely different, new even. Same with me. Part of me died along with him. Most of me went on, changed. Some things, like the parts of the brain grew back; other things, like other parts of the brain, died off slowly.
When I returned to Ohio, to the Miami Valley, the cicadas had all gone. Died and mulched into the earth, larvae laid and gestating for the next 1.7 decades. I returned to Ohio just a few days before Brendan’s twenty-first birthday.
Brendan’s birthday is July 4.
When we were kids, we always went to fireworks on his birthday. My grandma would call Brendan her little Yankee Doodle Dandy and he would tell me that I wasn’t special enough to have fireworks on my birthday. Big brothers can be asshats like that.
Last year on July 4, I asked Miracle to marry me and she said yes. We married on a holiday of our own—New Year’s Eve. We began planning this adventure—adding places and events to the maps, saving our money, and restoring the bus. Both of us are on our second and hopefully last marriage.
The cicadas are part of a larger cycle—life springing out of a long-gestating place buried deep in the mulch of ourselves. They fly and mate and sing and buzz with all the energy that a short life can have. Then they fall and become a part of that mulch like fireworks fade into smoke. Like dreams into reality and then into memories before being forgotten altogether.
It’s cicada season, folks and I am ready for the change.