Butterflies and Stars


I stood arguing with the girls on the corner. Did they really want to stay and play in the freezing cold playground? They did! They did not want to go with me to the Museum of Natural History, for which I had passes to the special exhibits. The passes expired that day. (Thanks to Ruth who gave them to me, because she volunteers there!)

I may be wrong but if my mother showed up to pick me up from Roosevelt Elementary school and said, “Let’s go to the Museum of Science and Interesting,” (our nickname for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago) I think I would’ve been thrilled. But no.

I was pissed. With my coaxing and everyone crying, we eventually made it to the museum. We decided to attend the butterfly exhibit at the museum and the Star Show in the planetarium.

We first stopped for dinosaur-shaped nuggets and fries in the cafeteria. (I LOVE museum cafes and cafeterias – always good, friendly (a tad pricey) food.)

The butterfly room was hot, humid, delicious. We took off our coats and our pissed-off attitudes. The butterflies’ lives are so short. They are so beautiful. It strikes me as incredibly sad that creatures of such beauty flutter by so quickly.

We hustled to the Star Show. Whoopi narrated. Every sentence, she infused with amazement. The billions of years. The heat of the stars. The durability and yes, one day – not soon – the end of our sun. These are huge concepts. One on each side of me, the girls held my hand tightly through the entire planetarium show. As if we could protect each other  from that inevitable shooting star bound to collide with earth. No, not soon. But too soon, whenever it hits.

From the small, fleeting beauty to the vast, colliding universe, the museum so delivers. It is impossible to visit either of these exhibits and not be transformed. Of course, there is beauty and infinity in the school yard, but once in a while, it’s good to find it in the museum down the block.

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