There’s a specific kind of beauty in summer nights at my parents’ house. After the heat and sweat of the day have dissolved and the afternoon stress is all but forgotten. As the dogs stop barking and the hazy, dreamy summer sleep settles across the neighborhood. When the warm summer wind dances softly through the open windows and the rest of the house is finally silent. This is when I come alive.
From my tiny second floor bedroom, I watch the fireflies in the backyard bounce against the blackness; tiny, bright flickers of light, pricking through the dark fabric of night. I stare in childish wonderment at this marvel of nature, then light a candle to imitate them, a single flame glowing within my dimly lit room. This is my place. Here, this tiny space filled with trinkets of childhood and old sweatshirts and half-used bottles of fancy lotion that weren’t worth packing but are too pretty to throw away, this has somehow become my home again. My bed nestled in the corner, surrounded by piles of books, a box of crackers or two, and all the musical instruments I attempt to play, envelopes me as I sink down in for another night of writing and reading and dreaming.
While the rest of the people my age put on their summer lipstick and sandals and head out to grab a beer or catch a movie with their friends, I face the open window, breathe in the smell of the air, and let my hair down out of its messy knot. My tresses tickle my bare shoulders, like a new lover, timid and unsure. I slide my favorite Paul Simon album into the turntable and gently set the needle on the record, reveling in each crackle and pop before the first song begins. This whole room is filled with sounds; the slightly warped vinyl, spinning endlessly in the player, the fan buzzing in the corner, the crickets outside. Everything sounds warm.
My pillows smell like lavender as I descend even deeper into their embrace. I pull a blanket up around my shoulders and balance my mug of tea between my knees, determined to find a position that will allow me to read my latest endeavor and sip casually at the same time. This acrobatic act is all part of the ritual; the warmth of the tea radiating against my body, the fluttering of my book’s pages in the breeze as I try to hold it with one hand. It is comfortable without trying to be.
I read. I write a little. I read some more. Mostly though, I dream. I dream of stories I don’t have the ability to tell yet. I dream of friends far away. I dream of things I’ve never tried but always wanted to. I dream of my life in five years, ten, fifteen. I think back on old memories, pretty little moments filled with jokes or kisses or too much wine. I keep a notebook by my bed and jot down random phrases as the night goes on. Funny quips to use in future writings, stories I need to write down, quotes that I find inspiring. I even draw a flower doodle on the edge of my notebook paper, but it’s pretty unimpressive. Visual art has never been my strongsuit.
Eventually, my time of the night is over. The record, after its third play through, stops with a loud click. My tea is gone. My eyelids droop, heavy with exhaustion. I blow out the candle and watch the long, spindly vine of smoke wind its way through the air. I climb back into my bed, and the place for dreaming and being is now the place for sleeping. I drift off, relishing this simple night of nothing and everything all at once, and knowing that tomorrow holds another chance for this deliciousness, this peace, this beautiful summer night in my own place.