Do you remember being younger, and playing in all those public pools in the summer? There was one of your friends, the really beautiful one, that you were always bashful in front of. It was a beautiful time, your heart thumping hard, fast, when you talked to that one.
And wow you were young. Remember that? Your body raged, fought against the gravity of the earth, the resistance inherent in the air, the clocks that told you to be tired, to be awake. You were in control, back then. But that’s okay, because everyone gets their turn at being young and that was yours. Now you’re older, and your joints creak a little when you move them, and you get a stiff neck now when you sleep funny. That’s okay, too, because right now it’s your turn, just as it was then. It’s always your turn. There’s no waiting in line when you’re okay with the present. And yes, there are some waiting in line, for some grandiose time in the future, and there are some who still reminisce and miss all those kiddy rides. Now you look at the kiddy rides, some small airplanes that turn around in a circle and lift off the ground maybe a few feet and then return towards the ground and then lift up again, and wow, pretty fucking lame! Now you’re on the real rides:
The constant struggle
Whatever you want.
Shit, those are pretty fucking heavy, huh? But hey guess what, it’s your turn
He drove north on Interstate-95, looked at some nondescript forest towards the horizon and thought of all the places on earth he wouldn’t see, wondered at what lay behind that far off curtain of branches that stood frozen in time. He thought of Italy, and how he had never been on an intercontinental flight. There was Memphis, which he had visited long ago, and thought of larger cities, all those millions of people he would never meet. There were books too, that he would never read, and as he drove down that monochrome interstate he longed to be reading.
Beyond books, there were times he would never see. Moments he would never hear or read about. There was Jesus, somewhere in the past, and then there was his family somewhere in the near future.
The love he had received through his life made it all okay, he thought. So long as he had love he could make do without the rest.
The desert in Arizona had been his favorite, on that long trip so many years before. He had been 9 and got to trip across the country in a camper with some of his extended family.
“Youngest kid to ever cross the country on that trip.”
His grandma would say.
He thought about death, but also about life, and what lay between. Every moment in time could be extrapolated infinitely in description, he thought, but how maybe there aren’t really words to describe what’s really happening beneath the physical moment. He thought of all the memories he had, and wondered where they would go when he died; all those secrets that make life so sweet. He didn’t think too hard about it, though.
He was focused on thanksgiving dinner, a respite from the monotonous hum of driving and the unyielding sense of yearning it brings.
“This was his ‘door to nowhere’.”
“Wow. What did it mean to him?”
“Nothing, really. No meaning. It was just fun.”
“Not everything needs a deeper meaning.” She said with a faint smile.
The sun was setting and the air was cold. They were in her father’s backyard. A few feet from the hedges that divided his lawn and his neighbor’s, a door frame stood with some stairs leading up to the door and other than that there was nothing. The door was white, but had some blue paint marks on it, as if a couple brushstrokes into changing its color the painter changed their mind. White is a good color, clean, barren, familiar. Good if you’re into that kind of thing. He enjoyed it.
He stood there, very aware of his breathing, staring at the door, and then walked up to it, felt the dry splintered surface.
“You don’t have to think everything to death, you know?” She said, having possibly mistook his silence for offense to the previous statement.
“Maybe you’re right. But it is fun.”
She showed him around the house. There were pictures on the walls, pictures of her and her father, and pictures of her father and her sisters. There were posters of famous jazz musicians that he had worked with, back in the day.
“He was a good man.” She said.