Waiting for this breeze to carry me to a place in this hometown I use to remember, driving an old white truck with an occupied passenger seat buckling the girl next to me, and that water tower near the football field where I fell in love with her, in the summer heat, with adolescence helping us sneak off into the fields on the outskirts of town.
I grew up in this valley, and tripped on miscalculations here. There’s a pathway in the park where I drank my first beer, and smoked my first cigarette with endless friends who were years away from marriage and children. The conversations with the brooding moon, and all the times those white lights highlighted the passion in me that had yet to meet the inconsistencies of a twenty something mind.
Partying with parents out-of-town, stacking beer cans to see how far they would climb before falling down. College the great finale waiting to find life. A future scripted in a book with white washed, easily erasable plans. Skimming the baseball grasses with stained knees, ghost stories invigorated with candlelight, and the cute way she used to say my name, leaving letters out here and there, just to make me laugh.
Drifting by downtown buildings were the drunks turn upside down in the night. Oil fields burning in the midday heat, pumping oil like it’s the blood needed to refuel economic limbs stifled in unemployment paralysis. The streets I use to turn on to, parking near the curb so we could share one last kiss before her curfew stole her away for the night. Lampposts and electric signs pitching imperfection over the town that grows ever northwards, past the dried river bed they are turning into a crosstown freeway, to eradicate time spent in the fumes of an idling car wedged in traffic.
Driving through Oleander, wondering where the days went ditching school to down 40 oz. beers that we bought from a dirty, unkempt store that would sell alcohol to minors for a hefty cost. Slamming past Oak where that old bar watched us tip-toe in unholy drunkenness, calling cabs to protect us from the check-points and flashing red-blue lights. Stalling near the restaurant I use to take her to, wondering if the shadow of our former lives are dining in there somewhere, lost in youthful ignorance.
And the u-turns of this town have me circling the memories of childhood like a merry-go-round stuck on go. The red lights prompt long forgotten episodes resurfacing in laughter, and tears, and awkward clothing I no longer fit into. Hairstyles that girls ran from. Tube socks with unfortunate jean shorts. Grocery stores with new names and empty lots burned down in the flame of a changing generation.
This town still remembers my name. It holds pieces of me in grid-locked neighborhoods and gas stations and main avenues we use to race on. My old short cuts are still here, and that vacant building on the southwest part of town continues to hide all the people who never want to be found. It’s a nice town, a quiet town that drips like honey in the sweltering heat. Air conditioners dominate rooftops, swimming pools stretch refreshingly in backyards, and that bucket of paint in the garage waits for me to paint this town with wet fingerprints cemented in my favorite color.