40.7548° N, 73.9845° W
We look at childhood and adolescence as something finite, a bridge we cross and then seldom revisit. We remove the planted flag on the other end like we conquered a hole in golf and then march on to the next one. Occasionally, we think, a return is in order, a chance for some kind of deep introspection into the memories we made on each of the boards of the bridge stepped on, imprints left from the trudging along. Stings may be felt, tears may be wept and laughs still echo in the wind as we reminisce with ourselves and the guests brought to these oft forgotten spots. Maybe it’s to try to reclaim the magic once felt in these areas, the memories of adventures of a lifetime that fizzle out like the candle’s dying flame, sensuously dancing a last time before retreating into the air, orange becoming black becoming nothing visible. To recapture these feelings is to venture out to harness lightning in a bottle a second time in a foolhardy attempt to reclaim lost gold. It’s to say that these spots are truly our spots. That the countless other individuals who walk in city parks or ride the subway to those little places tucked away behind the billowing skyscrapers never thought to stop and mark their territory. We make ourselves the guardians of these locations, the caretakers delicately and nimbly pruning the weeds and watering it, our own Edens among the desolate landscapes around us.
I know of a few places like this that I sometimes wander back to without realizing it. I find myself in these areas on the nights when nothing’s doing and there’s nowhere to really go. My legs carry me back there, shoes filling in the spots of earth from the last venture there. I hear the music I listen to as I go. Maybe it’s something Kind of Blue from Miles Davis.
These spots serve as my muses, my inspirations for articles like these. I come up with them on these long and cold winter nights when there’s too much time on my hands but it somehow always seems to fall through the cracks of my fingers. If I closed them tightly, perhaps I’d be able to hold onto it for just a little longer, to stop even just one grain from getting through. But now September turns to December and I’m only slowly awakening in the midst of the universal slumber period. How long have I been asleep that I missed the events of the world around me? How many moons have been born anew as I waxed and waned nostalgically over times better spent? What simpler times they were, times I smile about with a shaky laugh as though I’m scoffing at them with a tinge of lemony cynicism. How we should all hold onto those experiences, fleeting as they are, tides of an ocean vastly biting the shores of beaches.
I was talking to a friend a few days ago about how much people change from one season to the next like the now dead and dying autumn trees, shaking the last of their muted colored leaves onto the ground. We spoke about how much we’ve changed over the past few years of knowing each other, understanding that our environments have shaped us as much as we’ve tried (possibly in vain) to shape them. To impart some sort of legacy, that our names be uttered on the lips of others even when we are long gone. Until, as though we were slapped awake by the open palm of reason, we realized perhaps the most important thing is to know for ourselves that everything we did was for the best. That we take all of our memories, the good and the bad (as uncomfortable as it may be to recall), put them in our bags and carry them with us. One day, we’ll stop walking with that bag ever so larger on our backs and maybe we’ll unpack the contents. They’ll be rusted, that’s for sure, but a blow and shine with the sleeve will sharpen their image. And though they may not shimmer, perhaps our eyes will, with quiet introspection and understanding.
I have many more miles to go before I stop. And many more before I sleep again.
Photo Caption: Mountains in California
Photo Credit: Josh Leichter