The news here is that the peepers have returned. In the evening, I walk past the two ballfields where the little kids and then the big kids are playing baseball, and up the hill where pavement turns to dirt. Right at the edge of town, there’s a neighborhood where people are living rough. Along the roadside, I spy empty milk cartons and a clear plastic bag jammed with Christmas bows. There’s a swathe of hemlock and cedar, and then the fields and maples begin.
A few days before, I was writing in the local coffee shop when a woman I once knew fairly well stopped in. She sat down with her latte, and we talked for a little bit about the nursery school we once started and where our kids are now.
Then she turned the conversation and acknowledged that something lay between us. I closed my laptop and slid it in my backpack. We spoke about a fire, a burned construction site, a rekindling of the fire, and losses to both our families. It’s early morning yet. We’re in a corner by the window. The baristas are laughing at the counter, and no one can overhead our words. Quickly, we pair up our memories, and it’s shocking how our memories sync of that time. Until we diverge. We pause at the mention of the third family. I have about a 100 questions I want to ask. My shock appears mirrored in her eyes. She’s forgotten all about her coffee.
How do you ever understand the past? We’ve both divorced, moved houses and towns, raised children, created new working lives. And yet there it is, running like a subterranean stream, the past.
Her acquaintance walks in, and she stands up. I slip my notebook in my backpack, say goodbye, have a nice day to the barista, and walk down the sidewalk to the post office.
6 thoughts on “The Past, Rising, Falling.”
The past is big and swollen and swallowing–and gone. The power it has is the power we give it, and we are generous. I want to believe it all can help us be better and be stronger and be kinder, but the truth of that is choice upon choice upon choice. I don’t always choose well, but often enough, I hope.
It’s the old For Want of a Horseshoe Nail thing….
This is beautiful writing about the past. There’s so much that happen and so much that change during a lifetime or half a lifetime. So much that you never expected.
Agreed — so much unexpected over these years, in so many different ways.