Only a couple of weeks ago, I remarked how a few fireflies in my backyard made me a time traveler. Dexter and I both spotted their greenish glow. You know how they are: the first one or two make you wonder for a moment if you actually saw them. You look where the tiny beam showed up a second before and stare. There. The tiny light shines again. There and there. They are a dozen or more. Dex barks at a couple. Then he moves to the edge of the garden and just looks ahead. I don’t have time to wonder what he is up to right now. I am time traveling to a porch on Scott Street.
Jimmy, Kathy, and Junior are there. We have our Mason jars, holes poked in the lids. Our small eager hands are still clumsy. Try as we might, we are squishing as many as we capture, but still the jars shine with their light. They are coming at the perfect time. The bridal wreath is no longer in bloom, but the cascades of foliage give the flies shelter. It is dusk and the name itself makes sense in the dim light. We can stay up till a time unimaginable during the school year. I feel guilty and stop. I cannot imagine these lights dying in my captivity. They don’t eat the grass we put in the jars to salve our consciences. I am six or seven and I already know that.
On July 9, 2015, during a celebration of my leadership of Diverse and Resilient, I time traveled again. This time, however, the fireflies had names — Anthony and Josh. These two men took me back to a time nearly 20 years ago with they were boys. That Thursday night, I was transported to a restaurant in La Cross — was it an IHOP? — where Marilyn and I sat with Anthony as he talked about his future. A moment later, still during the same celebration, I also went to the UWM Fireside Lounge with Josh for a National Coming Out Day event I had helped organize in the mid-1990s. Anthony and Josh spoke of these times during their reminiscences of the ways our lives have been interconnected. In our minds we were joined by Marilyn, Mark, Rachel, Kelly, Jessica, Chris, Ant, and many, many more young people.
Keith Knox filmed and edited these clips as a cherished record of the event. If you look carefully, you might see the time fly.
Anthony Harris’s Remarks
Josh Feyen’s Interactive Presentation