A blessedly short memory

It’s funny how in the span of just one month, this place has gone from snow-covered mountains to summer. Today, the wind is blowing hard, but unlike a few days ago, the wind isn’t hot. It’s chilly, coming out of the upper atmosphere. I cannot complain since it keeps the mosquitoes away. The little bastards cannot fly in this wind.

After several months of bitter cold, we have entered mosquito season. We had nearly a month without them because of the snow. And the frogs. From the beginning of May, even with snow on the ground, you could hear the frogs out there in the night, singing. Where there are frogs, there are mosquito larvae being eaten. Once the singing slowed down, the mosquitoes got thick again.

The nice thing about how we remember things is that our short memories keep us sane. In the dead of winter, you don’t remember the keening whine and sting of mosquitoes buzzing your face. In the summer, you don’t remember how your toes ache and then go numb driving in -40 degree weather. Yet somehow we trade one for the other over and over.

I don’t mind living up here in the mountains with our two seasons: winter and mosquitoes. I lived through this for so many years that it makes sense to me. I remember living in the Front Range of Colorado, suburbia, cities, that strange climate that brings triple digit heat waves for months in the summer and in the winter only a few snow storms (if any at all). I have seen mosquitoes in January while walking with the kids along the Poudre River trail. That just didn’t seem fair. It wasn’t like it was a proper winter. No snow. No sledding. Just everything being brown and chilly. Leafless trees and cold wind. From November until May. Then that hot, oppressive summer air, humid. Humming with the buzzing of cicadas in their treetops. June bugs latching onto your face at night. And yes, those blood sucking bastard mosquitoes too. Can’t leave them out. The worst was the yellowjackets.

And that heat that got into everything, even when you had air conditioning you could feel it somehow.

I don’t mind being here. The wind blows. We have bugs. But we have secluded mountain trails that are absent scads of hikers and their dogs and squawking kids. When you hike here, there’s no repeated “On your left” which could mean your certain doom if you don’t heed the warnings. Sure, there are bears. And mountain lions. But even Boulder has those. The moose leave you alone if you give them wide berth.

Today it was cool and windy. I grilled food drop chicken on the free Weber grill I got a few weekends ago. I made mashed potatoes and salad with food drop stuff too. The world is not in a good place right now, and our “leaders” are using misdirection and keeping the fuckery going instead of actually fixing it. Before long, I won’t even be able to afford to leave town. Gas just hit $5 a gallon here, and that is a minimum of 4 gallons just to get to the next town.

I might as well get settled in and get some writing done.

Grilled chicken with fully loaded mashed potatoes and baby spinach/greens salad. Lavender balsamic honey dijon salad dressed made from scratch.

Smoke and Mirrors

Lisa used to smoke her clove cigarettes in the booth at Village Inn. Her heart-shaped face framed with long hair that was nearly black. Spaghetti straps of her summer dress riding on the sharp lines of her collar bones and Doc Martens which she rested casually on the vinyl diner seat. What a dirty habit I thought, but the scent was like nothing I had known before. Warm and sweet, aromatic.

She was so cool in her vices. Though younger than me, she seemed much more worldly. Twenty-five years has passed. I haven’t told many people about her.

Tonight I pull on a soggy cigar and fill the block with my own smoke. In my black hat and beard and missmatched shirts to keep the cold spring night air away, I watch the smoke run. The distant chorus of frogs emanates from the silver slash of the pond which separates me from the grey smudge of the mountains. The sky is tinged copper at the last place where the sun had been. I am caught between the melancholy of memory and wanting to forget. While still wanting to remember other times so sharply that my teeth hurt like drinking ice-cold lemonade.

K, the last woman I kissed, had breath of cigarettes. American Spirits. Teal, like her favorite color. She was a whole lifetime from Lisa. I still see her with lips pursed around the butt of that reeking cigarette yet her voice still somehow sweet, holding it downwind from me. I knew then I had lied when I said I wouldn’t change a thing about her. I would have wanted her to quit so she could live forever and her voice wouldn’t take on that husky timbre the way Lisa’s already had at seventeen.

Somewhere in between, I picked up my own vice from another woman whose name also begins with L. I can feel these Fridays like the ones we used to share like a bell ringing, resonating in my jaw and bones. My second beer. My fifth piss of the night. And just one cigar (I tell myself every time it will be the last one). I’ve smoked it down to the wrapper. It is hot between my fingers and the smoke is hot inside my mouth, making my tongue bitter. I’m too stubborn and broke to put it out.

The streetlights come on and offer a little bit of color to the grey of the evening. The sky is a smudge of tarnished tears. That distant lake a mirror to a gloaming sky.

They are all gone and I’m still here.

The woman whose name begins with L would have hated it outside tonight. Her lean and tall body would have shivered in the cold with long arms to reach up and take that blooming starlight. Even under my jacket. The liquor store lights down the street flicker like a false dawn. She’s still here with me sometimes. I wonder if she knows. But does every sparrow that flies past remember you watching it from the ground?

I flick the last of the cigar into the street, watching the sparks kick up against the dark asphalt. Women are a bad habit I’m trying to kick.

Remnants

One of the hardest things about social media is that for whatever reasons, someone building the sucker thought it would be a good idea to give you little reminders of things that happened on that day over the last several years.

I keep opening up these things and finding little reminders of people who are no longer in my life. Pictures. Comments on my posts. And even the negative space of likes or reacts that still show up in the tally, but since the person is blocked, there is nothing there anymore. You see three heart reacts and only two of them are attributed to anyone, you know damn good and well who the third was. And you miss that interraction with them.

You miss that time shared with them. You think of them, and doubt they think of you anymore. Unless it’s to tell their friends how awful you were.

I guess it’s fine. Whatever they have to do to get through the day.

The other night I had a hard time falling asleep because I had forgotten the name of someone’s kid. It bothered me. The name was just a blank in my mind owned by a smiling face. Is that what happens? Little moments like that are just taken away, like standing on the shoreline and watching the ocean eat pieces of the land until one day it will all be gone?

In that moment I had a flicker of thought that said “You could just text them and ask.” No. You can’t.

Thing is I’ve woken up years and years later and wondered what the hell I was thinking to push people away. Jeez, I thought I had it all figured out. Now I just have a few trinkets or pictures to remind me of them. It isn’t the same. But, not everyone was meant to come with us on our journey. Sometimes we lose them along the way. Maybe we get to carry with us the memories of them.

I’d rather be reminded of them from a moment that sets a memory to living flame in my mind, rather than be beaten over the head with it on some algorthimic anniversary, reminding you how much further away from that last time you were happy is from now. And it just keeps drifting further and further. Until one day, it will wink out like a porch light on the horizon.

Those days you wish you could share something cool with them you’ve seen or experienced. Telling them a joke you heard that you knew would have made them laugh.

All my life I’ve watched people go. I think about them still. I doubt they even remember my name. Those who do probably wish they didn’t. But I still think of them. I hold onto those times like those stories might be the only thing keeping them on this world. How easy it is for some people to just let go.

That’s not me. I weave them into my stories so they have a place to live. Long after they are gone.

It’s okay. It will pass.