Fireflies in Astoria

A black cat crossed my path as I walked, full, towards the store to purchase frozen yoghurt for dessert. I always forget in which country it’s considered a bad omen when this happens. I think it’s probably America, but honestly, I don’t care. One day, I decided that a black cat walking in front of a person had to be a good sign because I was really missing my grandmother – my dad’s mother – and I felt her presence and a stray black cat rounded the corner of my building as I ran. It trotted along with me for a while before zipping off into the bushes, but I felt comforted. From there on out, I decided a black cat was a sign that my grandmother wanted to make her presence known and today was no exception. Today, I walked along, towards the corner store and a black cat ran parallel and almost straight in front of me. I walked along with it, across the road, waiting to see whether or not it would really cross my path and it did. For a second I thought, “is that supposed to be bad luck, or good?” and then I just thought “grandma.”

After how I felt and handled myself today, I knew somehow, somewhere that she knew and that she wanted to make her presence felt.

Since I refuse to pay for air conditioning, the best ways that I’ve found one can stay cool are showers in the evening, two fans and frozen yoghurt. Eating a little less and a little lighter helps too, but then it gets dark and cooler and I actually want a real meal. Hence the frozen dessert – that would be paired with sliced peaches and banana and peanut butter.

There are bodegas aplenty in New York, each with a varying assortment of cold beer, healthy food, random ingredients and sometimes, sometimes unexpected British bars of chocolate. This one was no exception, other than it was on a different corner of a different street, accessed on this particular evening by walking through the calmly chatting AA meeting members out on a smoke and coffee break. It also had the kind of frozen treat I wanted. I walked past through the men, calmly catching up on life. “That one was such a motherfucker,” I heard one comment, and I looked away from the small groups as to not make them feel uncomfortable. I don’t know why. I just worried that they felt judged or regarded by this woman looking like she’d burst from the gym in matching tank top and shorts, carrying frozen yoghurt and no cigarette.

Away from the smokers outside the Greek Lutheran Church and hushed conversation, I caught a mini flash of light. Not quite believing my eyes, i stopped. The flash was the unmistakable neon green, not from embers, not from stray fireworks but from fireflies. In the grime and the smell and the stray cats of New York, there were fireflies. I exclaimed and paused, following it back, making sure that it did indeed actually exist. In some acknowledgment, the firefly followed me, dutifully lighting up before flying off into the darkness. I turned my head towards the toxic-looking pond cats with missing tails like to use to hydrate and beyond the lush leaves I saw two more little flashes. I grinned. I kept walking.

I didn’t see the black cat again.

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