I'm not a flowers-phile like some folks who know all the pretty ones that grow in shade and bloom hard in direct sunlight. I do know crepe myrtles, though. They are the only thing in Tennessee that stands outside looking pretty in July and August. The rest of us are all drippy faint and upping our deodorant game.
In 2011, crepe myrtles greeted us as we drove up our long serpentine driveway when we first arrived to our rental home in Tennessee. They looked as though they'd been waiting just for us, practicing their pageant wave. Park here, they said. We've spruced up this place just for you.
*** The crepe myrtles remind me now that we are still here. We've lapped the sun four times and we know when to anticipate the chorus of cicadas, the halo of autumn leaves, the brisk mornings and the humid incubator that is crepe myrtle season.
I spend most of July and August in a state of homesickness, grieving a home and a people that are contained in one big amoeba of pain that globs around inside of me, never allowing me to feel perfectly at ease wherever I live. WAHHHH MEEEE. I'm a pilgrim from a lot of places and I ache privately because I think I'm alone in this. My country 'tis of thee, you confuse the heyyy y'all out of me, of thee I sing.
The beautiful crepe myrtles earmark another season of being here and being a misfit. They also usher in another school year. I've been so excited about sending both of the punks back to their school work-a-day routines that I practically forgot to mourn their own growth, to feel the full freight of their being a whole school year more advanced than the people they were last year when the crepe myrtles were in full glory.
*** Kids are only capable of two kinds of good-byes, it seems. The unceremonious "Bye Felicia"-esque dismissal, or the neck-wringing ugly cry adieu. How long, or should I say, how many crepe myrtle seasons until they realize their parents are all Bye Felicia on the outside but on the inside?