The Good Ol’ Days
Or so they say
Every couple of months, my mom and I start having these super emo, deep conversations. It’s good fun; we wax all philosophical and analyze our deeply fucked up family dynamics and wonder where the fuck we came from in all of this.
We do this in little fits and starts, over multiple conversations, over weeks or sometimes months, mostly because while I will pick at every detail of everything, crossing back over familiar terrain from a different perspective to arrive at a completely different conclusion, mom…well. She gets tired. Of me. Ranting. “Isn’t it time for you to go do…something? Else?”, she’ll say, and we’ll laugh and I’ll tell her good night and we’ll start it all over again in a few days.
Recently, she mentioned that someone had passed away, the father of a family that baby sat me quite often, and I guess my reaction was somewhat…blasé? I mean…I hadn’t seen this person in, what…30 years? But mom was bothered by how detached I seemed, and, I guess, always seem, from the people in my life that were honestly pretty integral in raising me.
So I’ve been thinking a lot about the past, and the other night I scrawled this on some notecards before I fell asleep.
“I think I’ve become one of those people who doesn’t dwell in the past.
Not like a futurist, always looking to the next adventure, childlike, wide-eyed and full of wonder. And certainly not like some wanna-be Zen white lady, chiding everyone to “be in the Now,” a phrase that begs to have a dreamy “man” attached to the end of it, amiright?
No, I treat the past like a scared child treats the dark, squeezing her eyes shut as she clenches her blankets, trying to believe with all her heart that if she can’t see it, it can’t hurt her — whatever “it” might be.
Or like my dog trying to ignore a bowl of macaroni and cheese, keeping his head turned away but his eyes straining back, ever hopeful for an invitation to partake.
The past is an inviting warm glow with a trap door waiting just beyond, agape and oppressively dark with no apparent bottom, but one which undoubtedly harbors lethal spikes or like…spiders or something.
I’m writing this because it’s three a.m. and the dog woke me up from the couch (he’s got a schedule to keep after all, and everyone should be piled in bed by now), and I swear, my yearbooks are staring at me from the bottom shelf.
I don’t know what’s gotten into them.
They’re usually content to lend their stabilizing weight to my cheap bookcases and just keep quiet. But tonight, (this morning) they’re eyeballing me like I owe them money.
I don’t even know why I keep the damn things. I never look at them, just keep them “just in case”…(“Just in case what?” mocks the back of my mind — “Detectives Stabler and Benson are gonna knock on your door with some questions about some rando from high school? It could happen. I guess.)
Or maybe someday enough time will have passed that the pit in my stomach will disappear and I’ll be able to remember with fondness the people and places of my youth, passing wrinkled hands delicately over the pictures of people I’ve loved and lost and all but forgotten. Perhaps as my eyes begin to dim, the edges of my past will soften and become smooth, and I will be able to run it through my memory like a worry stone, with no sharp edges to tear my skin or cut my heart.
Tonight, though, I’m going to welcome the cover of darkness and immerse myself here, now: This bed, This dog, This person, These presences that leave no motive to question, no intent to fear. My back is to the yearbooks, and I will fall asleep focused on the warmth and softness of now.”