Monday, February 27, 2006

thawing ground.

i don’t remember what month it was. it was in the vicinity of spring – the season had either recently arrived, or was waiting in the wings for its entrance cue. the days were blustery with winds that came right over the Berkshire mountains and across the valley, but the sun was warm against a cheek, or a forearm exposed by a rolled-up sleeve. at night, people walked Main Street, buying coffee from Rao’s or carrying triangular take-out boxes from Antonio’s. i was a senior in college.

i must have driven through town to get there. i imagine it was already dark when i arrived. where did we meet? on campus somewhere – the parking lot, on the corner by Bowden gym, outside a dorm in Southwest? somewhere. at some point, long after the sun had gone down and the people – the people who lived in all the little glowing squares that were windows that were dorm rooms – had ventured out to wherever it was they were going. we walked across four lanes of sparse traffic, along the sidewalk that bordered the soccer and lacrosse fields. there was a steep incline – how did we get down? maybe we didn’t take the sidewalk at all, maybe we walked straight onto the field from Massachusetts Avenue.

we walked far enough to escape light. at least, the light that blurred out all sense of sky. those fields were huge – my freshman year i had a panoramic view of it from my 18th floor dorm room, where i could see past the fields and the athletic complex to mountains, and eventually a tree-tipped horizon line – so walking far enough to look up and see stars was possible. once light was sufficiently snuffed out, we laid down on the ground, tucked our hands behind our heads, and looked up.

the night was cold in the way that any early spring night is cold – it gives you a chill, but not a hopeless one. i had a coat on, and i had it pulled tight around me. i laced my fingers into my hair to keep them warm.

we talked about a lot. he told me about his family, his past, the things that he had struggled against and the small victories he had won. i talked, too. i talked about where i was going, why i was going (or so i thought), what mattered to me and who mattered to me. we talked until the cold of the ground seeped through the layers and grasped at my back, lodging a dull ache in my calves and the back of my skull. i shivered once or twice, and he asked if we should probably go back. i said yes.

i remember that night. of so many nights that winter and spring that i have forgotten, of so many nights that must’ve seemed like they were so important at the time, i remember that one. others too, of course, but i find that hour laying in the chilled, thin grass of that field swims up out of the depths quite often.

the funny thing?

i’m not sure who i was with.

i mean, i am pretty sure i remember him – i am pretty sure the “him” i am thinking of is also the one who laid next to me and shared tiny, luminous bits of his life story. in the part of my mind that can’t see, i know who it is. in the part of my mind that remembers in broad strokes, there’s only one person it could be. but those months, the last few months of college when i packed in more drama and heartache and beauty than i had experienced in the 3 ½ years preceding, have become an eddy, a tidepool. everything has settled together, gotten still. people and places have spots of startling clarity, and swaths of blurred meaning. and so, while i know who it was, i am also just a little unsure.

even so, i am content with the way that i remember that night. i am happy with not quite knowing. i am content with a sense of the weather, but without a name – with a sense of thawing ground, but without a face.


Toast said...

That was a hella-cool post.

kate.d. said...

That was a hella-cool post.

ha. turnabout is fair play....