Today, my early morning ritual of scrolling through Facebook memories brings me to you. As it does on many mornings. We are standing, with dear old friends, so close together, in a time before Covid. It was the very last time we danced together. Our smiling faces shine brightly against the background of the dimly lit night club, called Halcyon.
I remember the first time I saw the word halcyon. It was in a poem by Walt Whitman, and even though I was just a child at the time, it struck a strange and powerful chord within me, of longing for some sweeter, simpler past. A past I hadn’t yet experienced.
The word stuck with me. And each time I’ve heard or read it since, it has filled me with that same sense of urgency to return to some other simpler, sweeter, perhaps happier time that didn’t really exist. A powerful, wistful nostalgia. A longing for something that never actually was.
I look at this photo. The bright smiles, the sparkling eyes, the joy of that day! But I know that the glossy finish is only on the surface. There is so much pain and sadness stirring underneath. And even though this photo, like so many other photos, only tells a half truth, I long to return to that halcyon day.
Halcyon Days by Walt Whitman
Not from successful love alone,
Nor wealth, nor honor’d middle age, nor victories of politics or war;
But as life wanes, and all the turbulent passions calm,
As gorgeous, vapory, silent hues cover the evening sky,
As softness, fulness, rest, suffuse the frame, like freshier, balmier air,
As the days take on a mellower light, and the apple at last hangs
really finish’d and indolent-ripe on the tree,
Then for the teeming quietest, happiest days of all!
The brooding and blissful halcyon days!