When I was in Estonia, in the Peace Corps, I was on a bike ride with my Estonian friend Olavi. I was screeching as we were riding down a gravel hill and it was my first time on a bike since I was fifteen.
Olavi looked back at me, grinning, "Do you have lullabies in your stomach?"
I laughed "Butterflies, Olavi! Butterflies! And I don't have butterflies in my stomach, I'm just terrified!"
He laughed back.
But I do get butterflies in my stomach from time to time. When I was young, I got them seemingly for no reason at all. I got them on certain days and inevitably, something odd would happen on that day. The teacher would be out sick and there would be a substitute or something exciting would happen at school...
When I was in my twenties the butterflies seemed to indicate running into someone, like a person I was romantically interested in...
The day that I saw Tad for the first time after I'd returned for a brief foray from Estonia, I had butterflies all day long. And I remember thinking what's with the butterflies. It's just TAD. And then that was the summer we fell in love.
So I still get them, even now, even as an adult. I have them today and I'm not sure why. I know scientifically, that butterfly sensation is linked to our good old "fight or flight" response and my body's nervous system is experiencing a rise in blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate, hence the physical sensation.... And I do get them in the proper arenas, before a speech, prior to having a difficult conversation, etc... But sometimes I get them and I don't know why. And a lot of times, something happens later in the day and I think OH! That's why! But how does my body know? Is it somehow the energy in the universe reaching out to me? Or do I sort of make something out of the ordinary happen because I'm looking for it? Maybe I'm just reaching out to the universe.
Well, who knows. But I have them today. I guess we'll see if they're responding to something future me will experience later, or if present me will send future me off into some self-made adventure.
So, I left work this afternoon and I saw a beautiful woman, maybe about seventy years old in a flowered blue dress. She looked so happy--she was smiling and the way she was looking and walking, I felt like she wanted to talk to someone. So I smiled at her and she smiled back and veered towards me. She smiled again so I said "Hello."
She said, "What a wonderful place this is."
"I know." I said. "I love working here."
"Oh! You work here? It's a wonderful place with wonderful people. What do you do?"
I told her I work with youth.
She came close to me and put her hand on my arm. "They will remember your face always." She said. "You are planting seeds."
I almost felt like crying. "Thank you. I hope so."
"Oh" she said and her eyes filled with tears. "You are."
She told me about how when she was a young girl in Germany in communist times how her mother died when she was only ten years old and that there was a teacher who took her--a frightened and sad little girl--from the back of the room and brought her up to the front.
"She believed in me." She said. "She saw something in me and her face is in my brain forever."
She talked a little more about her brother and her family and told me I was doing good work.
I got in my car and then saw her outside walking toward the building again, so I got out to see if she needed anything. She was looking for me.
"Oh! There you are."
And she showed me a picture of her as a skinny blond child with her brother who died in the war.
I told her about my time in Estonia and she told me "Travel is good for you."
I told her my name and she told me hers. "Eva."
We shook hands and again she said, "You do wonderful work. Those children will remember you."
And I got back in my car, smiling.
And the butterflies were gone.