Cafe Hitch-hike


The riddle revisited

I won't lie. My heart aches. I've seen this before. It has ached for people (and not just romantic or people I slept with), and also places. I spent a great summer (1986) in Austin with my aunt, and when I got home, I was hit was such sadness at returning to the river valley hometown. It was grief because I had such a great time in Texas that it was sad to return to the austerity of home life. But, with time and as I got into school activities and made new friends in 8th grade, I gradually forgot about missing Austin.

I miss Copperas, I miss the nutters at the yurt, and all the people at the aya retreat. I suppose the same will happen again, where as long as I keep myself somewhat busy and exposed to novel experiences that the grief can fade. My birthday is the end of the month. I'm planning a departmental potluck. I am also planning a housewarming party, and some people at work are interested in seeing a slidehow of my most recent adventure. They are especially intrigued by the houseboat. Then, Labor Day weekend is close; I might need to plan a little escape.

I still think it was beautiful for us to check back in 28 years later. We really did step over a threshold back then, and we both got to see the layouts of our lands between then and now. I'd say I had a lot more fun and made more noise than him, but we had similarities. It took us a while to feel rooted in our lives; for me, I started with next to nothing while he wasn't sure what he really wanted to do with himself. We both felt like we wrestled with life. We both have walls around our hearts. We both are sensitive yet think too much. We both have creative sides but with stable jobs in education (I had to laugh about that). We are different that I tend to take more risks. I am willing to see or get to know what I've never seen before. He is considerably more reserved than me and has a smaller comfort zone.

The reason I compare is not as a contest, but to contrast. Things went certain ways because-- I took chances, he didn't. Things were similar because-- well, we have similarities. I think it's the action part that intrigues me the most, and what things led to what in our lives. It also makes me go back to way back in 1990 and see the choices I made back then with a much different perspective. I did some screw-ups, but the bigger choices were the better ones and had long-term impacts. The screw-ups were remedied (and had a bit of secret embarrassment attached).

Copperas put on the recording he had from the last day of school in 1991. He walked down the street from his place and took a shortcut to Central High, a 5-story redstone built in 1901. He walked up the stairs and the windows were open; a storm rumbled in the background and a heavy rain started to fall. A few minutes later, he was in Mr. Redbeardmorton's 2nd hour English class. He panned the video camera on the classroom and classmates were waving. He sat in front of a bunch of guys who were thought they were-- the shit. They wore tank tops to show off their muscles, and I laughed out loud when I saw that.

In the corner of the screen, I entered the room and headed to the trash can. I got caught in the rain and my dark hair was puffy from the humidity. My magenta shirt was half-wet, and I was pulling wet paper out of my book bag! The camera turned and headed my way. My skin was already browned from the sun, and Copperas greeted me. I turned to him, and warmly smiled and waved. The bell rang, and the recording was off until his next class.

I thought that wasn't so bad at all. I didn't look gruesome. If I were a teacher, I say I was looking at a pleasant teenage girl. There wasn't anything sinister, messed up, or bad about me or how I looked. I thought at first that I probably looked awkward and weird in the recording, but it was not the case at all. It captured my better side. If only I thought I looked like that 28 year years ago, right?

We really were kids at the time. I already had a bit of romantic experience under my belt, but C. said he only kissed a girl once before he met me (I believed him once I put it all together). Even so, it really was a start for the both of us. I'd say we took what we could from that start, and went our respective directions with what we had and what we could learn.

The last day I was in Nijmegen, we had too much caffeine and headed back to his place. We held each other once my bags were packed, but we said nothing. The same thing was on both of our minds. We looked at each other as if to say, 'what now?'

It was easy for me to say it because it was the first thing that came to my mind. "A lot happened, didn't it? Don't think too much about it, please don't. It will only exhaust you... It is a riddle, and it will answer itself when it is ready. It might mean different things to us, but we'll get it on its own time."

"A riddle," he said dryly.

I stepped into his bathroom one more time to check myself. "A riddle," I murmured to myself, having a feeling that everything I suggested was going to be true.

I didn't say it to be evasive or to soften my departure. I had a sense of how he operated, and I knew he'd drive himself mad with over-analyzing. I also knew he believed enough in magic to allow a slight amount of mystery, especially towards something he probably never encountered. And sometimes, things like this don't get clear until the fog clears and more happens to make sense of it all.

It was a riddle to me, even if I thought I knew some of the possible outcomes at the time. It was definitely a riddle to me because even if I perceived things to had been one way, I was certain something else would eventually pop in to change or add to what I thought. There's something to be said about going back to where something started, revisiting it, and walking through it again, but with more experience and self-awareness. The riddle to me is what answer(s) will (individually) come to us, and where will we go with that.

Meanwhile, I sigh to myself in my modest place. There's plenty of things I need to get done around my place. I still need to decide if I want to return to school and to delineate what the fuck I plan to do with myself in terms of my career. There's plenty of distractions to help fade that longing, and for time to pass to where the riddle also fades or answers itself. I've felt this enough times to have a sense of where it leads, and now nudge myself to just get moving.

downwind | upstream