I’m plagued by the ghosts of memories these past few days. Nothing concrete, nothing sustained, just wisps of fragments flitting in and out of my consciousness.
The smell of rain on hot asphalt bringing back a memory of walking down Nicollet Avenue, past the Rocky Rococo Pizza (personal pan pizzas before others offered the same), the broken pavers cracked here and there, the occasional whiff of a nearby manhole carrying sewage and the roar of the diesel city buses, the only traffic allowed on the winding street, as it floated slipstream past you on a warm and humid summer day.
Or… treading along Lyndale Avenue, opening the door to Oarfolk Records (nee Oarfolkjokopus) and having the smell of cardboard records sleeves and something musty climbing the stairs where they kept the cutouts and the hard-to-sell-even-for-a-dollar platters, the cashier smoking something that might be a cigarette, or just an attempt to cover up the joint that he’d lit up when the customers were scarce.
Crossing over the same street just a mile or two northwards, from Lowry Park to the Walker Art Center to catch that Genet play that had some theatre critics held either spellbound or aghast that someone would challenge the status quo at a theater as prestigious as the Guthrie, the smell of flowers in the sculpture garden wafting over the car exhaust, the goose turds on the Park’s greenspace warming in the late evening sun and Val’s smile as she looked back at me my hand in her hand, as we ran so as to not be late, her burgundy pixie hair already losing the hair-sprayed structure in the humid air, and an impish twinkle in her eye — it wasn’t a date, but part of me wished I had made it so at the time and innumerable times since. One of many regrets I’ve had and not the first one involving Val. We sang silly songs and laughed silly laughs and people looked down their noses at the two little punk rock trash invading their oh-so-artsy space.
Sun filtering through the trees as I walk around the Lake of the Isles with a friend, that winding path that ignored any need to get anywhere in any time frame at all. We didn’t talk, because we didn’t need to. Quiet suited us just fine.
And then the memory, like morning fog in the sun will melt away and I’ll forget the names and places and even what I was doing. But the smells and the feelings will linger, haunting me and out of reach… I have to remind myself that I did the most damage to my memory willingly, all those rivers I drank to forget finally did much of the job as intended — except I still remember the parts I didn’t like, while I can’t recall quite so well those that I did.
It hardly seems worth it in the end — putting my brain to sleep in all the wrong places. Sing sing sing.