Indulge me a moment.
Images merge and blend in the memory; things once seen in stark daylight or secondhand in snapshots, melding with television programs and picture shows, coalescing around imagination and vanity, clouded by dreams; the real, the transferred, the imagined and the wished intermingle, separate, and intermingle endlessly. All these charged electrons ricocheting around in my head, sometimes colliding and transferring particles, sometimes one capturing another and becoming something new.
All I know is the sum of my experiences, a collage spinning too fast to make out its parts until one slows and stands out momentarily: an old photo of a child—I know him—astride a bicycle, a Schwinn Sting Ray. This evokes a few more memories, hits showing up like the proverbial flashes in the gold pan; memories not only of images, some faint and some clear, but of sensations, some that feel like a fist in your chest, a vise grip on your heart that demands your attention.
The scent of seasonal change in the place you grew up, the smell of its dirt, home, girls—then women and maturation crowding all these out. Nothing will hold still. I didn’t even know how much I cherished these things, some of them mundane and treated with the contempt of familiarity, now viewed by a man weakened by sentiment and regret. Look around you now, yes even this will be mourned.
A boy on a Sting Ray; a white banana seat with a half sissy-bar, sometimes we’d ride two on the seat and one on the handle bars, he has a crew cut grown out, bristly and sun bleached a grizzly-bear tan color, giving him an oversized head. His smile is hardly guileless, but blameless nonetheless. This image evokes another; riding the bicycle for the first time unassisted, surrounded by other kids, one shouting approval; and now it is the motion itself experienced in that moment that is remembered clearly. A memory so near the beginning of memory it always aches slightly of melancholic ecstasy to come upon it yet again, to indulge oneself and to hold it up to the light and peer into its cloudy, transparent core one more time. Almost afraid to look too closely or directly at it lest it vanish, like trying to observe a mote in the corner of your eye. This too will be lost.
She took me out into the middle of a field at night. This is the field I ran across when I escaped the man who put a knife to my throat. Sex and violence. Two children, furtively stealing out into the center of a shadow, dropping a bucket down into a forbidden well in the black of night. I don’t remember her face. I don’t remember her name. I remember the damp grass, the cool air on us, the scent, her; like one multi-dimensional sensation. I remember the field seemed like a mile wide expanse. I remember walking home.
The collage turns; a globe shaped mass of a million distinct, twirling particles spinning around an axis, some larger, some smaller, some surfacing in a split second to pause and reveal themselves and then submerging in the whirling mass. Here’s a girl’s face and in an instant faster than the speed of desire the heart quickens just as it did before, and this moment is now that moment of years ago, separated by a trillion moments between but connected nonetheless, and the sensation somehow travels along this chain like electrons through a wire to reach you now in an instant. The image of the face isn't clear, it won't stay put for examination, like a light smudge on your eye it skitters off to the side when you try to look directly at it, but the memory triggers a complex of emotion and desire that is real right now, even if the girl is gone forever.
But we know that electrons in a wire are lined up and waiting; flick a switch at one end and at the other one is pushed out. Instant light. Moments only line up in the imagination; in reality there is only one moment, this one.
It is bliss and heartache at once; damn, how I’ll miss this life.
Okay, I’m over it now. Back to work.