When I was a child I had an endless fascination with ants. I would wait for winter to end for the first ants of the spring to come out. I remember very distinctly seeing the queens emerge for spring and flutter around with their beautiful wings to find a new home. I would send messages with the queen to my “home colony” telling them that I wanted my wings so that I could fly to my “real home”.
And then as the queens settled down deep into the colony and the workers started emerging to seek food, I would sneak into the kitchen and get sugar, water, and pita bread and lay it near the holes in the stone all along the balcony of my old house in Syria. I loved those ants, and they loved me.
I would just lay there with them and speak to them as they crawled on me and I watched them carry their food away. I cried at their beautiful ant funerals where several ants would carry the dead home. I was endlessly delighted when they struggled to carry things that were too heavy, or carried things that I didn’t think any ant needed.
And then summer would roll around and their colonies, strengthened by my love and sneaky feedings, and my mother would go to the balcony and hose the colonies with water. A great flood would take over the lands and I would watch in horror as my friends went down the drain. The cousin visits I looked forward to the rest of the year, I soon regretted because they would go to the balcony, and see how content I was with my ants, and proceed to stomp on them and make fun of me and call me crazy for my obsession with them.
But the ants, the ants were the only friends I had who understood me. They did not judge me as “weird” or overly “imaginative” or “idealistic”. They ate their food, peacefully crawled on me without biting even when I got into their path and kidnapped their friends, causing them to get out of line. But they always continued to come back. They continued to walk in line. They continued to help their friends carry things. Continued to have the most beautiful funerals. And every spring, the queen came. And every fall, death.