Thirteen days ago, the world was flushed with color, seemingly reborn as it became one year older. Now, the streets of suburbia lay soft and grey, almost seemingly coated in paint compared to how they were the week prior. The morning started late, with me waking up to chilly wood floors and shadowed walls. Feelings of white light, specks of red, and a relaxed voice became fuzzy in the morning haze. I lounged around in the bed for a while, there wasn’t any rush to wake up. It wasn’t like the scenery wasn’t going to get any brighter as the day went on. Eventually I get on with the day, and start out of the house.
The way to my destination isn’t anything tough, just a walk from Alberta to Morrison on the pavement and back ‘round. But today, on that twenty-fifth of April, there’s a twist. There always is. Going left through the curbside road, I make my way down the street decline as it descends into the dark grey smoke of the depths. It’s not far down the decline before the pavement morphs into stairs, and I can no longer see any farther than the endless fog and the writhing mass of shadows surrounding the thin stairs.
Eventually I make my way to the bottom, and the murky depths fade into a light blue terrazzo floor and shouts and chatter make their way to my ears. There’s groups of monotone figures moving, clustered around the endless rows of cafeteria tables, talking amongst themselves. I make my way to a table, my feet following a path without my mind directing them. I come to it, and sit down amongst the flowing conversation, the words coming to my mind like radio static. The noise, the energy, it was like coming home. And it was, in another place, and another time. But as lovely as the moment was, I was far from my destination. I stood up, and walked into the low hanging hallways, taking a left down a long pass surrounded by metal.
Water flows from under the surrounding lockers, the floor soon flows with sand, and I’m back in the endless beach under the starless night sky where we ran like we were never coming home. It had been the summer of ‘96. We’d been young and free back then, and it was like we would never die-- or at least that’s how I’d felt. I wouldn’t know how you did. To think, all those years, and I’d never known a goddamn thing. Sometimes I just sit down, in the sunlight corner of my home, wondering how much of you I forgot. Thinking now, it doesn’t take long to walk out of the beach. Soon I’m back on the suburbia pavement, and my feet hit the pavement in quick strides, soft thuds as I continue to Morrison. I’ve made some progress now, outside of my typical beat perimeter.
Of course, I can’t stay in suburbia for long. Not today. It doesn’t take long before my foot is leaving the sandy stone and landing on soft carpet. It takes some time for my eyes to adjust from to the dimly lit hallway adorned with soft flickering lights. Looking around now as I make my way forward, the walls are covered in alternating patterns of velvet red and dark blue with ornate wood carvings lining the middle. The ceiling lies high above, with crystal and gold chandeliers dispersed along the stretch of it. Finally, I come across a gold door, and step down the stairs it opens to.
The stairs do not go on as long as the hallway, and halfway down I already recognize the flight. The stairs come to a stop, and I make my way into an the basement, bar section and all. There’s various books and a pair of purple and green sneakers on the bar counter, and the low lights are dim. Long nights were spent under the cracked ceiling, and countless drawings are scattered around the room. A few I can make out clearly— one with two figures walking out into the light lays in the center of the bar strip— but many more are smudged beyond recognition, or lay blank. The smudged ones get a bit more sharp when I lean in to look at them, but staring at them any more blurs them again. Walking over to the bar, I open the door, close my eyes, and step into the free air.
I now stand in a vibrant meadow, with the air crisp and clear, and the trees still holding onto morning dew. It was on a day like this that it had happened, and as the scent rolls over me, the memory stabs in my heart. It recovers quickly, though (gets faster every time), and the pain fades to a weak sting. The meadow’s sharpness and clarity compared to the murk and faded edges of everything else before has me standing weak, but I steady myself and keep moving forward. Soon enough the meadow fades away, and I step into a wild city, with a clear and cool blue sky. Piles of snow lie around the tall buildings that surround me and on the wide city road. I walk clearly, knowing exactly where to go despite having been here only a few times before.
I walk over to a building, keeping my head turned away from the hanging sun, and wait on the sidewalk next to a snow-blocked hotel. Soon enough, a bus runs by the hotel and I jump on, making my way up to the top. I hold on as I fly past buildings in the sun, the wind cold from the rush. It feels free unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Eventually, the bus reaches an intersection at a parking lot, and I jump off, and return to walking the wet street. I’m just about to the destination of this journey, the lot marking the shift to the end. I give a short laugh, looking up into the cloudless sky. It’s been years, and this last stretch never gets any easier. Still, I move forward (and that’s different than moving on), and make my way to a frozen school building.
It stands wide, with glass windows and doors at the front, and snow falls from above and piles in hills in front. I stand at the edge, but it isn’t long before the building pulls me in. Entering is walking in a dream, with the feeling of familiarity coming over me. The interior is dark, everything in a mute purple, but it isn’t difficult to find the destination. I come to a large, open room, filled with desks in rows and the shadows of people in them. Near the back, illuminated in a soft glow and more alive than the rest are two figures sitting together in company--a sharp memory from a time passed brought for this day, to stab the heart and then be set aside. I come close, sit down, see the smiles, and remember it all.
It’s hard to tell when I finish, standing there and not watching but seeing: two figures, in a cold building, holding hands and laughing quietly as snows falls around above. A memory, set aside but never forgotten, frozen in a sliver of time.
I stand up and walk back home.