Poetry corner – The Time Capsule

14 Jun

The Time Capsule

First experiences are like the first brush strokes on a fresh mental canvas. Some remain simple sketches, while others are revisited, reworked and expanded over the years. Either way, the structure is often set very early on.

Time pulls me inexorably forward, but occasionally a portal to the past opens, eliciting feelings from long ago. Some are fleeting, causing nothing more than in internal smile. Others appear to be just ripples but turn out to be whirlpools, spinning and pulling me back, distracting me from the reality of today.

The scent of sun-warmed pines and granite transports me to childhood summers in the Sierras. Thousands of hours in dozens of other forests since then don’t matter; the Sierras were my first, so they define the genre.

Mixing chocolate chip cookie dough takes me back to my mother’s kitchen. That I am on another continent and that my mother has passed on make no difference.

Riding a mountain bike makes me a blissfully unselfconscious pre-teen. Pre-baldness, pre-gray beard – heck, pre-beard period. Just a kid rolling along a dirt trail having fun.

Recently  I saw a name from the past, one that I had not thought about for years (decades really). I’ve got so much going on in my life that it would be impossible for such a small ripple from so long ago to mean anything.

Then there was something more. My name on a child’s photo. No, not my name, just a cute kid with the same name. Curiosity. A reason to reach out.

I chat via computer on a daily basis for work and for fun. Rarely emotional. Why then, am I feeling this way? Unsure. Insecure. Silly. I don’t understand.

Suddenly I’m thirteen again, with feelings from the time between the wonder years and the worried years. Between BMX and a B-average. Between infatuation and learning about love. She was the first, the one that I always wanted but never came close to having. Other crushes since then ended up dissolving into familiarity or fading away with time, but number one somehow got packed away in some interior time capsule, unresolved.

Odd that so little contact so many years ago should have such a lasting effect. Most of what makes me, me has happened since then. School, love, loss, life, work, parenthood – all more significant and all of which happened in real life. Even so, the flowers pressed between the pages of the dusty, forgotten book so long ago retain their unique bittersweet scent.

I’m very happy with my family and she seems happy with hers. So many years, so many stories untold. Hard to imagine that she is a grandmother (especially when she looks the way that she does), but it all makes me smile just the same.

Perhaps that scent has matured a bit over the decades. The fantasy that it represents has become more unobtainable than ever, but that doesn’t matter anymore. The effect is less bitter, more sweet. Thoroughly enjoyable. Just as it should be.

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