Saving butterflies in books: making memories fiction

Dawn’s trying to help her mom figure out how her laptop works, on the couch. The two of them marvel over how simple it can be when you do it the right way and it’s like the seven wonders of the world with the back button, the windows, keyboard shortcuts, maximizing screens…Dang, who knew it could be so easy?

Minnie the Boston Terrier is wiggling her ass in Ginger’s face like a poorly choreographed porn, no one can find the right end, they’re two drunks tripping over each other, changing positions on the carpet, snorting.

Each time I go to her mom’s house, I hide cans of beer in the basement like a squirrel, then forget where I put them and discover seasonal varieties from the wrong season.

Hours go by fast or slow depending on how you look at it, and now it’s 10 o’clock and we’re still on the laptop, looking through pictures, penetrating the user interface of the Costco photo album checkout…dialogue falls like maple syrup and pools up on the plate, puddles over, sticks.

I have to leave, even if it means getting the kids in the car and up to bed, which isn’t much, but it’s more than I’m up for and still I do it, to make time go forward.

Charlotte goes on and on she wants mom, and Lily is saying I need to do something to get her to shut up and she’s right, but there’s nothing that can be done so I mock her and cry back, “MOMMM….!” but it only makes her cry harder at the impossibility of it, that dad would sink to such depths. I make hissing sounds intended to be affectionate in a way she doesn’t understand, no one does, so I keep doing it, louder.

I sit down in the den and put on Shuffle and take a minute to settle into what it’s like, the ambient glow of the Christmas lights by the front window.

It’s the time of day the cats come out and regard you with great drama and judgment, like gods trapped in someone else’s body, statues.

We fall into the cadence of the clock ticking and the music, and the lights twinkling, and everyone settles down to the bottom of the day and just sags there, like a dew drop about to fall.

You can’t help think what will happen next when you’re content like this and there’s not much more to think about, except what just happened and what might happen next.

Which is what’s funny about people who take pictures or record things, because it’s not the same as the moment you tried to catch, you may get a feather or a feeling of it passing through, but that’s about it.

The irony is that the books hide inside us while we go out chasing butterflies, sifting through fields of clover and ocean beaches, excavating, always looking somewhere else because it’s easier than looking inside. Mine is a cave, learning to see in the dark.


About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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9 Responses to Saving butterflies in books: making memories fiction

  1. We went on a road trip vacation around the Great Lakes and to Niagara Falls this summer. I found myself watching tourists and their cameras – sometimes it seems a human desperation to try and catch a particular moment. Like getting proof of life. It’s a prop for the story that will be rewritten and revised until the picture represents what we want to believe and what we want others to believe about our lives.
    Oh good, my weekend moroseness is kicking in….


  2. ksbeth says:

    each of those represent a moment in time, as it ticks away, we remember, we record, we photograph, we write – in hopes that we can somehow preserve that moment for just a bit longer and slow time down for just a bit.


  3. rossmurray1 says:

    To carry on the above thoughts, I’m sensing a backlash of late against photographers, particularly in galleries and museums. Like many things that motivate outrage, there’s a hint of classism about it, maybe because everyone EVERYONE has a camera now all the time, whereas it used to be an elite few. Yet, they’re doing no harm, except perhaps momentarily blocking one’s view.
    Yesterday, we decorated the tree, three of four kids and a new boyfriend. The kids picked the tree, wrapped tight in binding, which is unusual for us. Hell, it’s unusual for me not to pick it! I’m fussy when it comes to trees. When we undid the binding, the branches bounded out and filled a quarter of the room. The anti-Charlie Brown tree! With our kids getting so big (and the new boyfriend fills some space too), there was barely room for me to get in there, so I hung back as they put on the decorations. The kids laughed at their old homemade creations, and we played “remember when” (which kind of excluded the new boyfriend, come to think of it), and I thought, I should get a photo. But there was no way to capture this fleeting transition. Plus, I don’t have a wide-angle.


    • pinklightsabre says:

      I often have that same impulse to reach for a camera, but I know it won’t convey the moment, and then the moment is somehow interrupted. I like the image you put together of your family + boyfriend around the tree. It’s maybe more interesting than a photo, I don’t know. God…such extreme lack of motivation here, seaonal-related I think. Sun starting to set in the 3 o’clock hour, probably about the same for you. Wistful thinking.


  4. alesiablogs says:

    Absolutely mesmerizing post. I need to get back to your page more often. You captured your experience of life beautifully in words.


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