Memories worn and faded
As planks on a pier
I can’t stand it to think my life is going so fast and I’m not really living it.” ~ Ernest Hemmingway, “The Sun Also Rises.”
The cell is all I know. Brick walls on four sides, and a single window at floor level my only source of light. I’ve lost all track of time, not knowing the passage of days, only counting meals. Does the gruel come twice a day, once? Does it even matter?
It’s difficult to tell if I am alone in this gulag. I hear noises that could be from other cells, but are so inhuman I don’t want to think about what has become of my fellow prisoners.
The guards who patrol the grounds don’t speak to us. I haven’t heard another’s voice since I awoke on the cold, damp floor of my cell.
I once tried to recite all the songs and stories I knew, trying to keep a tenuous hold on my sanity. I stopped speaking aloud when I no longer recognized the sounds as words.
The memories faded, the libretto lost in the echoes, and I gave up, surrendering my mind to the darkness.
My only refuge is sleep. In my dreams, I am unbound. Running joyfully across open fields of cornflowers. Soaking in the sun and fresh air, breathing in the heady sweetness of freedom. I wake sobbing, not wanting to leave that reality.
Is this cell, this ungodly prison, my the actual dream? A recurring nightmare, and that field of blue is my true life? It’s so hard to separate the two. My nightmares have become less harsh. I spend it curled up in a corner, hiding from the cries from outside, trying to empty my mind of chaos so I can return to my place in the sunlight.
One day soon, the nightmares will finally end, and I can stay in the field, weaving wreaths of blue for my hair. Perhaps today will be that day.
Sometimes when their dad and I are being goofy, but trying to make a point, we go all “back in the day” on our kids. You know, “back in the day we had to walk to school, in the snow, up hill, both ways.”
There’s profuse eye rolling and tolerant sighing, patronizing laughs and an occasional, “Yeah, right.” But, I don’t think either of them actually consider that there really was a “back in the day.”
For instance, back in the day, my family had a single, 24-inch black and white TV, with only three VHF stations and a grainy UHF Public Broadcasting Station. There might be an aerial on top of the house, and rabbit ears on the set (wrapped in aluminum foil), to help improve reception. We children were the remote controls.
Back in the day, there were no wireless phones, no cell phones. I remember my grandparents having a party line and that their calls were one short, two long rings. I can even remember when you had to start using area codes when making a call… on a rotary phone.
We were lucky to have oscillating fans to help cool off the hot Tennessee summers. Air conditioning, when we finally got it, sat in the living room window. There was none of this new fangled central A/C.
At one point when they were very little, we did have a stereo turntable, actually listened to vinyl LPs. That was until our toddler son managed to remove the drive belt… still can’t figure out that one.
My children will never remember a time when they didn’t have a large screen, HD color television (in multiple rooms); a cell phone, a car stereo that played CDs (or could sync to their MP3 players), or live in a home that couldn’t be cooled or heated with flick of a switch. They will not remember a time when they didn’t have a personal computer.
The changes that technology have gone through in the 20 years they have been around are astounding. I cannot imagine that changes we’ll see in the next 20.
What changes have you seen during your lifetime, that your children now take for granted?
One foible of working from home is the great temptation to stay in pajamas all day, sans bra and makeup. It can make for awkward encounters if you feel compelled to open your front door.
He blushed a shade of pink that reminded me of a newly washed baby, a color that I wished I could duplicate on my pale, aging cheeks.
I admired his faith and dedication, but was amused that he suddenly had somewhere else to be when I offered to share my beliefs with him. Seems his door-to-door calling didn’t extend to reciprocating conversion chitchat.