It was summer. The Euclid house. It was hot. I think it was August. My sister and I roamed free. We were young though, so we may have still had a babysitter at home, but that didn’t stop us from roaming. If I had to guess, I would say I was about ten years old. Sherry and I started hanging out with some kids a few blocks away. I can’t remember who they were, so it must not have been a constant. We rode our bikes a lot and we walked a lot. When it got really, really hot, we would ride our bikes. We went barefoot all the time and when it got that hot, the bottoms of our feet would burn, so we either started riding our bikes barefoot (gasp) or wore shoes, which we hated.
I struggle to remember because it seemed like we were older and it maybe was the Central House. We only lived there for a short time, but still managed to get in a lot of trouble. It really doesn’t matter for the story where we lived, but I want to remember it correctly.
Anyway, we were playing with some kids and were just riding our bikes going somewhere, going anywhere. We ended up on a street that was a big hill. I can remember one of the kids had a skateboard, which freaked me the hell out, because seriously, a skateboard down that steep hill. Even at that age, I knew it was something I wouldn’t do. Apparently fear ran deep.
The hill was steep. Kid steep. It might not be adult steep, but it was close. It was the hill that intersected at Huron and Elizabeth Streets and then down to intersect Central Avenue. If you looked straight ahead you could see the river. You could see the forever. You could see blue, blue sky and white, white clouds. It was incredible. It was an amazing hill.
That was a summer full of butterflies. Monarch butterflies. The orange, white and black butterflies. Pretty ones. Their wings looked like glass, stained glass. They were magical and beautiful…and free. They floated effortlessly through the air. Going somewhere. Going anywhere. They were on a mission. A migration mission.
On that street, on that hot summer day, time stood still. I sat there on my bike looking at the street. At first I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. The street looked strange. It looked like the asphalt was moving. I felt alone. It seemed like it was just me. I started moving. I started pedaling. I felt like I could fly. Suddenly, I was surrounded. It was the most amazing thing ever. I stopped at the bottom of the hill on the next block. There were hundreds of them. Hundreds and hundreds of Monarch butterflies surrounded me. They landed on me. They covered the street. They were on my face and in my hair. It was beautiful. It was calming. I felt free. Is that what freedom felt like? Could they feel it? I wanted to be a butterfly that day. I felt like a butterfly that day. I was free that day.