Last night, here in Mecca, was the first real night that the air had that inimitable chill portending autumn. The Upper Midwesterner in me couldn’t have loved it more.
I left Wisconsin four years ago for the warmer climes of mid-America. Sure, we were more pushed out of the state than it was that we left per se, but in reality, there wasn’t much left for me or us at home.
Last night’s chill, though, took me back to my younger, even-less-refined self. I missed nights in shorts and a hooded sweatshirt, burning hours at friends’ places, making ill-advised runs for greasy-bagged death, rollerblading an empty downtown Minneapolis at 1.30 am or the trails along the Wisconsin River in Stevens Point. (Once, I was not so beefy and such things were de rigueur.) Bonfires, flirtation, awkwardness, coffee, prank calls, crazy dreams, the Northern Lights–on the rare occasion fate smiled upon us and they descended so far south to grace us with their beauty.
I think back on those days and contrast them to now: older, almost seven years married, baby girls in tow and a world that has positively gone sideways–well, negatively gone sideways, as the case may be–and cannot fathom how I got here from there.
Such is the nature of the past. Certainly, it was me who was there, but it is an echo of a past life, annihilated by the present and often longed for by the sheer immensity of the future. It was fun, but the reality is that it was. Past tense.
It is no longer, and it can never be again. It is dead. Nights such as last night are flowers at the grave, a token of remembrance, a faint ‘wish you were still here’, nothing more than coping mechanism for the reality that we are all the survivors of the past. The future, for me, is in onesies and soils themselves with regularity. The future rests at my side when I lay down to sleep tonight. Sadly, the future is being the next available representative. Gladly, it is also smoking ribs for friends tomorrow night.
Memories are cold. Sometimes they are refreshing and comforting. After a while, though, there is no choice left but to shut the window and bundle up.
And, even then, that slight breeze can cut through to the bone.
So, here’s to the past, my long-lost friends and those long-lost nights spent without a care for having to get up the following day. Here’s to the future, come what may. And here is the present, with minutes to go before life can resume for me again.