I grew-up in a small town. A sleepy little place that should you find yourself unsuspectingly passing through, you may miss it if you happen to blink for long enough. It’s a beautiful place. A place carved deep into the glen of a mountainous landscape and nestled gently along the banks of a pristine lake bed that often gave the impression of being glass. The only reminders that it was a living bed of water came in the form of fish kisses that poked to the surface every-now-and-then. In the summer it was a little different; congeries of houseboats and kayaks floated indolently along the surface of the lake. Lovers walked along the planks of the pier while holding hands, basking in the beauty around them as well as within one another. Excited children dart in and out of the way of lumbering adult walkers, racing to see which one of them could get to the end of the wharf first. A busy place, but laughable when compared to that of most urban sprawls. A perfectly small little town.
Some of my favorite memories of this place are of those dewy mornings in the early Fall, where I waited by my front door for my best friend, Drew. He would come to my house and we would head off to school together, walking beneath a suspended grey sky of rolling clouds. The short trod up the hill and to the left was usually filled with adolescent chatter about, Becky, and her bra-strap that peaked-out from beneath the fabric of her shirt. A sight only ever seen on the waxy-pages of a Sears catalog at that age. It would also consist of the latest hockey highlights and our plans for the upcoming weekend. Our topics were varied and diverse – important stuff, I promise you. I loved the weekends. I loved them because it meant respite from our scholastic responsibilities and it usually meant that Drew was going to sleep over. He did most weekends, right up until the day I left for the army…
I miss those times and that place. To be honest, those mornings, that short little-walk to school were the most peaceful times of my life. They were the only times where I can truly say I was my age. Past discrepancies of an abusive father and a mother stricken by disease played no part on those mornings. When looked at retrospectively, it was really and truly the only time that I have ever been completely happy in my life. An unburdened mind. An innocent soul.
On the nights when the bad things come – the nightmares, I often try to think of that place. Those moments of parlance with, Drew. I try to remember being twelve again. I try to hold onto that picture of my surroundings on those damp silver mornings. I suspect that this is another reason for why I love the rain so much; because it reminds me of the only time in my life where I was truly innocent and jovial.
It’s a funny thing; the passage of time. It ages our skin, removes our hair yet matures our soul. It is a masterful illusionist. It can make you see something that happened years ago as if to be happening now, again. But when you open your eyes the slight-of-hand is revealed, and what you are remembering is many years behind you. For those afflicted with PTSD, this is an all too terrible magic trick. One that when failed can lead to disaster. Disaster being death…
Yesterday, at mid-afternoon, I was informed of a disaster. A failed magic trick. A man loved by many, a man skilled in the ways of healing others could no longer heal himself. He had been retired for only a short time. But long enough to have been eaten by the demons of memory and time. I once wore the same uniform as this man. And the moment that I did, he became my brother, and I his. I have been blessed to know many-a-good man. Sadly, I have also been cursed with having to bury too many of them. Time, the illusionist, would have you believing that I stacked them atop of one another before filling in the hole in the earth. An awfully wicked slight-of-hand!
Death is always sad, sure. But when it happens to one of your own (a brother in uniform) it causes an immediate call to introspect. Those left living think of their own pain and demons. Time begins to reverse its course. Another demonic slight-of-hand. I have been struggling since the news broke. I have been seeing the faces of the dead, hearing their pleas for help. I have conversed with former colleagues and brethren, hearing their pain as it permeates from their written word. In-between yesterday afternoon and now, I have slept for a total of 2.5 hours. I have even tried to reverse the time within me so as to be able to recall that little town that I used to call, home. I crave that diminutive space and its tapestry of sprawling pines and snow-capped mountains. I miss the rain coming in from over the Rockies. And mostly, I miss that awkwardly lanky twelve-year-old me. I miss being happy. I suppose my now fallen brother did as well…
I consider myself fortunate; having such a memory of such a town of such a moment and of a younger me. I feel that sometimes it is memories like that, that keep me alive for a few fleeting moments longer. Long enough to allow the storm of pain to roll past.
I really do miss that little place. What a time it was.
If you are ever struggling, please, try to find a little place of your own. Think back to when it was all different. And instead of letting that be a weight, let it be a lifeline. A reminder of how good things CAN be! And if you do not have such a place, ask me about mine, and I’ll give it to you so that you may have one too. There is always another way! There will always be a good memory that we have not been given yet. We just have to fight to get there! But you don’t have to fight alone. I was not alone on that hill walking to school, and I am not alone now. In fact, Drew and I still travel together, although regrettably it has been a while. But I’ll tell you something, I can’t wait for that memory! Because I know that when it is gifted to me, it too will keep the darkness at bay!
Drew and I with the creators of; How I Met Your Mother.
If you are struggling, please reach out! You are not alone. We can ALL make it back home…
I love all your writings, but some of them reach into places that make me go “Fuck! That’s just it!”. And this one gets me right there. With your memories of that younger you and that special place you knew before the world got complicated and worse.
You sir, are a special soul whose talents ARE a special place to all who read you.
Blessings, peace and love. And a special place, that too . .