This piece is about losing people.
I don’t want to be a butterfly.
I’m not afraid of becoming a butterfly. It just doesn’t appeal to me. The whole enterprise is a lie. You might be asking, Do caterpillars often dread becoming butterflies? Are there some caterpillars who don’t want to be butterflies? Well, the answer to both questions is: not really.
When we we’re younger, our parents tell us it’s harmless. All we have to do, they say, is get inside the warm safety of our chrysalises and sleep for about two weeks, and then we’ll have wings and we can fly and don’t have to stay on tree branches, eating leaves all day. They promise us flight and freedom, the ability to float from flower to flower, from rock to log to hillside, sipping sweet nectar and enjoying beauty and bliss.
It’s a lie.
First off, let’s get one thing straight. There’s no choosing who becomes a moth and who becomes a butterfly.
To that point: I’d rather get carried of by a horde of bullet ants, than become a moth.
But what they drill into you from a young age is to behave righteously and achieve the greatest level of personal success by minding our own business, staying on our own branches, and eating our own leaves–and if we do these things, they say, butterflydom is supposed to be attainable.
In case you were unaware, the process of changing from caterpillar to butterfly is hormonal. Our hormones develop, just like yours do, except as ours develop we outgrow ourselves, and so we keep having to shed our skin. After the fifth molting, it’s time to cocoon up and become a butterfly.
The process is grotesque. While the cocoons look adorable, inside is a fucking nightmare. Our body digests themselves until we’re goop, and then we rebuild into butterfly form. Or moth form. There’s no choosing. It’s whatever your hormones decide.
Side note: this kid I used to know, Reuben, who lived a few branches down, came from a long line of “gorgeous” Monarchs, and even he became a moth, who, apparently, flew into a desk lamp and died on like his second day, or something. But I digress.
Now, most butterflies are assholes. Either that, or they’re dumber than eucalyptus leaves. Regardless, they hold this sense of entitlement over caterpillars.
Answer me this: have you seen a caterpillar and a butterfly on the same branch?
No, never, of course not. Why would they want to talk to us after they’ve grown wings? Some even deny being caterpillars in the first place, to animals who are dumber than them, like bumble bees, who don’t know about a butterfly’s heritage.
What’s fucked up is that even our parents leave us. Once they become butterflies, they’re gone. I haven’t seen my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers or sisters in months. Since I’m the youngest, I’m the last to evolve.
Fact: I’m approaching my fifth molting.
And it hurts. I’m hurt. I mean my feelings, my internal self is fractured. They all promised to keep in touch after their evolution. None have. Worst of all, I lost my best friends. Especially Kenny, who was like a brother to me, and who, on the day of his fifth molting, shed skin and actual tears at the sadness of leaving me behind. But he promised we’d keep in touch, that nothing would change. We shook antennae on it.
Well, Kenny’s gone. Fuck Kenny, anyway, I don’t miss him. It’s just another confirmation of my opinions. Becoming a butterfly ruins you. It ruins your body and your mind, as if all those pretty colors seep into your nervous system, root out your old self and replace it with some vapid recreation of every butterfly that came before you.
Nah, man. I’m cool.
I’m going to stay right here on this branch and eat this delicious leaf and look out on the vista of green hills and moss-covered trees and the nearby creek, which I love.
I’ll stay here and enjoy my mornings listening to the blu jays sing.
I’ll stay here, never moving more than an inch or two for my entire life, and marveling at the absolute beauty around me, which I don’t need wings to find, which I don’t need friends or family to appreciate.
I’ll stay here, in this exact spot, where every morning the sun shines through in pencils of light, breaking through the canopy of branches above me.
I’ll be right here, loving myself. Loving my green skin and each of my twelve legs and my wingless torso.
If any of them decide to find me again, they know where I’ll be.
Unless a bird eats me, which wouldn’t be the worst thing.
Or, maybe, something insane will happen after my fifth molting, when I don’t spin a cocoon.
Who knows? I’ll be right here spinning silk, motherfucker.
I’ll wait right here and see.
Written at 12:11 at night, in my office, in Agoura Hills CA, after discarding the dead carcass of a mouse. Rest in peace, Reggie. I named him. He wasn’t a pet. But I named him.