Written by NEC student Suzette Pujols for Intro to Creative Writing, Fall 2023
She is calling out to me. I feel her presence and I see her name. I am engulfed by the warmth that is her love, it is inside me and it surrounds my bones, and the sensation feels like a vibrant warmth. Anyone who aimlessly walks by will never know the world that I have lived with her. They will never feel the magic that is encapsulated around me. I am enamored by a butterfly. She is a friend to me.
I don’t think I could ever give my trip to Virginia the justice it deserves. This was my first time traveling alone in a state I never visited before with a girl I never met in person. Granted this sounds like the beginning of a very bad idea, although I never felt safer. She was welcoming, she made me feel at home while we paced around the halls of her quirky home. It was a step I was proud of taking even though I still had worries and fears hanging on my sleeves. I waited for something to mess up. Never in a million years would I imagine that I’d be confidently traveling on my own. This was something I manifested but that voice within said “How can you possibly do this?” I am searching for that feeling of completion now, I’m searching for it again. As the last boom of the trip Navona and I decided to head into Washington D.C., since the train station is there as well. Together we hopped from museum to museum until we met our destination, The National Museum of Natural History. This was a home filled with the information and history behind our vibrant and lively world immersed by trees and animals. Awaiting inside was a butterfly exhibit, this is where I met her.
I grew up Catholic, learning the teachings and history by unwillingly going to bible studies, receptions, and church every Sunday. I was young and I felt indifferent about the whole concept of Christ and laying out all your worries and struggles to this infinite being. My mother beautifully painted a picture, I felt safe and welcomed by this absent presence that was supposedly surrounding me. I’d pray as a nightly routine, only wishing for things any 8-year-old girl would. “I would love to have an American Girl Doll please, amen.” I didn’t allow the fact that I didn’t receive the long list of things I wished for to cloud my judgment of religion. With time this connection faded, and I wish I could pinpoint the exact reason or the exact moment my world altered but I truly don’t know. I don’t believe that I just woke up one day and chose to no longer believe in something my mother instilled in me. Maybe fear. Maybe pain. Maybe happiness brought me towards this tipping point.
Navona and I danced around the museum for hours, we were overly excited. We walked through the halls and saw thousands of species and their remains that were just bones. Some animals were just stuffed fur with nothingness behind their eyes, some were real insects and fish. Every corner I turned I was met by something else that was incredibly alluring, all I could do was take a picture for a future me to reflect on this memory. We continued to aimlessly walk, unaware of where we’d end up next. Then we noticed a huge dome, filled with spirited plants and buzzing with people inside. The sign above reads Butterfly Pavilion. I immediately insist that we must go in, I can’t leave this place until I do. I felt no hesitation. Only ambition.
With due time as I aged, I began to open the doors of what is called my mind and craft a new understanding of the world around me. It was one that I could call my own. I trusted that this idea of Jesus Christ wasn’t ever a lie, but I never resonated with what I was practicing. The mere moment when I focused more on spirituality is an unforgettable memory. Nothing ever made so much sense to me in the world. The universe eased this idea into my life so naturally, it was so perfectly crafted for me and myself alone. I knew I was on this path because I wanted to learn how to love myself deeply and connect with my emotions on a more powerful level, all the fun stuff came afterward. It began with reading all the information I could cover about the world that lives within spirituality, I jumped into many things at once, one thing at a time, or nothing at all. I found that captivating. I tapped into meditation, crystal energy, the histories of other religions, and even herbalism. I looked at the world in such a beautiful perspective even when I was in my darkest days, I always managed to find my way back and I was always so much wiser each time. Perhaps I am biased and whoever is listening to these words can’t bear to comprehend my nonsense. However, this lifestyle has made me feel at home in my pain and within my happiness.
In between this unknown world, I learned about spirit guides, and nothing was ever the same. In a way spirit guides care for us like a guardian or an angel, they assist us in many processes and transformative periods as we navigate life. A non-physical being assigned to help us attain our greatest potential on Earth. While this resonated with me, I began to fall into my journey of communicating with these beings, I needed to discover the message that has been trying to be said that I couldn’t hear all along. Through meditation, dreaming, tarot, and working with a pendulum. I felt like I was welcomed and loved more than I could ever possibly be loved even by my mother. Many nights of long meditation left me in hysterical cries because I couldn’t comprehend the mass emotion and love I felt surrounding me. On the days where I felt like I was buried in a hole the mere thought of my spiritual guides sent me into an oasis of infinite love that it would be too much to contain. They brought me back to life when nothing made sense in the world and when I no longer had the will to try.
Her name is Lilac. Lilac is one of my spirit guides that I met along the way and deeper into my journey. She is a butterfly and when I envision her, I see hundreds, she is infinite, and she is all around me. I am aware she is around me when I am in nature, it’s a distinct shift I feel in the energy around me. It’s a knowing that she is telling me to look around and be aware, the tiniest things are worth noticing. I always admired nature since a very young age and my thirst for travel is apparent to many people who get to know me. She managed to light a fire deep down inside of me. She has enraged the part of me that seeks all that life has to offer even when I am beyond terrified. She is that voice in the back of my mind telling me that this is worth fighting for and that I will only ever live this life once.
While stepping into the exhibit I didn’t know what I was walking into, I was unsure if these butterflies would surround me. I imagined a cage of greenery that was only home to maybe a dozen butterflies. However, I was greeted by hundreds of different species and colored butterflies. I needed to adjust my eyes to the vibrancy of the room, and I was in awe of the delicacy of this insect floating around me. After meeting a couple of butterflies that flew onto my nose and my shoulders, my face hurt from smiling so hard. A blue morpho landed on my arm, a little, tiny face pointing directly at mine. The abdomen of the butterfly seemed so fuzzy that if I put my finger on it, it’d tickle. The inner wing was an array of different shaded blues, from navy blue to turquoise. The rimes of the wings were black, spotted with white. Her gaze felt heavy. Perhaps she needed some rest, or perhaps due to my yellow shirt, she had mistaken me for a flower. Perhaps not. It didn’t settle in until I realized I walked through the entire exhibit with her resting on my arm. Navona and I watch each other and glance at the butterfly waiting for her departure, so I can leave and be on my way back home. With society and judgment.
I glance down once more at this butterfly after people awkwardly ask to take pictures of this being resting blissfully on my arm. Suddenly I focus my eyes on everything in front of me, and I can truly see how real all this is around me. As if this fog that surrounds me has disintegrated into mere dust. I am reminded of this trip, of what I am truly doing in this moment. I am experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime memory, with a friend that I’ll probably never hang out with again. I am miles from home. The home I lose my breath running away from. I call out to her, and I listen to my silent echo reach the space surrounding me. I know she’s listening; she is the only one who will ever understand me. The thirst for life reappears, and I feel safe again. I have been terrified of the world and the damaging things it forces you to experience. With her, I never rethink those issues that are for a future me to face. I am in the present and I can nearly taste the air that I am breathing.
Lilac is the anchor for a feeling I can’t harbor, I am trapped in my self-pity without her guidance and reassurance. How can I ever accurately convey the abundance someone from up above can gift you? Lilac showed me the memories I made on this trip and reminded me that this is only the beginning of a long blissful journey through the world. She is a reminder that the world around me is alive and vibrant and through the darkness lies the beauty behind every living thing. Through her I am reminded to be a little kinder to the animals around me, the trees up above, the people I encounter, and to myself. A small dainty butterfly brought the light that was dimmed inside of me. After leaving that museum and returning home with nothing but the photos of memory I never want to be erased, she continues to surround me. She speaks to me and even though there is silence I hear her clearly. Beauty is the life that surrounds you. Beauty is the soul within, and the body crafted for me.