All the animals are sleeping, and the laundry’s in off the line. The coffee pot’s been emptied and I’ve nothing but time…Trooper had a short turnaround today, waking after 4a and tired even at lunch with a few hours left. We flipped a coin – should I leave for errands or stay home, still in pajamas, and do what pleases me? The tails won, my ass still in the chair with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ serenading the muse.
It reminds me of a time and a place, rather long ago…
A third floor apartment, my first, alone…with hardly a stick of furniture other than my bed and a cheap record player. And my books. Long bus trips to the library for the records and pages that filled my long hours. It is when I found that music…
I paid a pittance to cover the windows, the pink mini-blinds on clearance, but the coverage necessary to avoid the hotel of ill repute across PDL with direct views. I could not know how, at a certain time of year, the setting sun would suffuse that room with the warmest, most comforting shade of pink and gold – what heaven’s light must be like. Incongruous with the hell that was wrought in those walls.
It was an interesting place to live – quite near a nightlife that I could not afford and close enough to walk to shopping. There was the random gunshot, of course, but that height offered a safety from all but the worst of assailants’ aim. A lot of my youth was spent there, those years when I ought to have been learning more than the lessons taught me.
It is, in my mind, always spring or autumn there. Spring when the flowers were everywhere, prolific, and one picked as I walked, the nectar licked from the end of the blossom. A face waited for me, leaning on that car, arms crossed, a vehicle to announce his status to those who cared to notice. That wry smile showed as I ran with my youth trailing behind me to him. Neither of us could know the path ahead. Death and sorrow, as every fairy tale tells. The tithe of old for happiness, stolen.
In the autumn, the leaves would cover everything. It was a wooded world at the city’s edge and one could still find pockets of ancient south under the scattered mosaic of fire reds and pumpkin oranges. Stones in empty lots that once led booted feet to pillared entries. In my mind the wind still skurls the leaves about my feet, those ghosts trying to halt my progress – We Were, they seemed to cry out. We were. Anything to be remembered, it seemed.
I spent a great deal of my youth waiting on those unexpected visitations, a scant handful of days. But they still burn brightly in my memory, in my mouth, that nectar so long gone and remembered yet, to be remembered decades from now. We Were.