everyone she ever knew

Some times when we talk I think mostly about car rides. How many hours upon hours you and I spent in silence and staring out the windows of all the places we’d never been. How much fun we had. Roadside picnics and empty campsites or family vacations and sunflower seeds. It all just melds together into one long road trip. And I hear your voice across the line as if you and I are sitting in that car together. As if time and space, and growing up didn’t put us in two different worlds. As if I hadn’t put us in two different worlds. And it’s all a lot like laughing at a joke that was never funny but you don’t know what else to do. Because otherwise you might cry.

My grandmother once told me that when you love someone you love them forever and she got this far away look in her eye because every man she ever loved was now dead. In fact, she told me, almost everyone she ever knew was now dead. We sat around her kitchen table. It was that one summer that I went home, and created all those recordings of her years during the war. That book I will someday write. All whiskey evenings and run stockings and packed cars, movie stars, beach air and the butcher. And in the mornings she’d make us coffee. I could only get her to talk for small amounts of time, an hour maybe at best, so when it came I had to be ready. I had to be ready to take it all in and be there to hold her hand when we got to the photographs that hurt more than the rest.

While visiting her, I shouldn’t have but, I went for drinks with a boy I used to love in the summers in that city, and he picked me up at her strange apartment. I say strange because that is what it was. The hallways with mauve carpeting and maroon walls and the overwhelming smell of what I assume forever it must smell like to be old. I wouldn’t have thought for a moment if I met an apparition in the hallways. But he picked me up in his mothers car and we drove around for awhile making small conversations about where we were headed and how long it had been since we last saw each other. He’d fallen in love with a girl with amazing hair and I could feel both relived and annoyed by that idea. And both were okay.

I’d never say that I keep you in the same places or on the same shelf or in the same room but often I will see you in the same dream. You and everyone else I ever knew.