The light fell just as I passed through Hannibal, Mo. and the rest of the drive to Bloomington was shrouded in darkness and rain and that was just fine with me. Being back here is spooky. I was glad not to have to look at it.
Shouldn’t there be something reassuring about coming back to a place, unless it was the scene of tragedy? But I feel this sense of loathing when I walk in here, even though it’s my friends’ house. I don’t know if it’s house, town, region or state, but something about this joint feels oppressive to me and I’m glad I’m only here to get Jamie out.
It’s always a little strange to come back to somewhere, I guess, where you just were, when things it cracked open aren’t resolved for you. That must be it. Because I pull up to the corner of the driveway (where I have to park because otherwise Benjie can’t back out of the garage), and I remember talking to Freya on the phone about leaving North Carolina…and now they’re leaving Austin to go back there.
Pulling into the driveway, I look at the mailbox and think of checking it for money, of which there was never enough…and now, even with a couple thousand dollars in my savings account, here I am worrying about whether the next couple thousand is going to show this week or next. (You don’t have to tell me how lame that is.)
And I think of coming back from the Old 97s show, on a night just as muggy as this, so besotted with Rhett Miller, so despondently resigned to going to concerts alone and maybe never being able to really like anyone, even if I loved them, after the last person…and then, only a few weeks later, meeting the person who changed everything about what I was looking for and took all the dread out of the phrase “there’s someone better for you.”
I think of how hard it was to leave Leanne, and now she’s in Arizona, in the present, and I’m back here, revisiting the past.
I think that five years is a better period for coming back, than one year.
I remember my mom, when we first moved back to San Diego from Kansas City, took pains to avoid driving through our old neighborhood. When I asked her why, she said she it made her feel as if we’d never left. The possibility of running into people we used to know was bitter, to her–to them, we were just people they hadn’t seen in a while. It was as if those three years of our lives hadn’t happened, she said, as if all the things that had happened to us in another place weren’t relevant.
I wonder when Jamie will be able to come back here, after she leaves, and not have it act up like a bum knee or ache like a pulled tooth. A house contains so much…even for me, who only stayed here six weeks. The little bare bedroom with the cross on the wall has a musty smell. I don’t remember that from before–and it rained a lot, that May and June.
I stare into the tiny mirror over the even tinier sink. I think that right now is a later date’s five years. The things that started here last summer will not seem so portentous; the things they led to will solidify inside me. And in ten years, tonight will just be a night that I stopped by, on my way to somewhere else.