Secret Pop

Jan 29, 2008


Something about that night made me think of you. Of me thinking of you on some other similar night. A similar amount of rain and cold and wind in the seams of a house not built to keep things like wind out. I thought I should go get my notebook and write down a reminder that I had thought that very thing. But I had just gotten back from Hawaii, and my notebook was still packed in a suitcase, and I trusted myself to remember. Typically, when I trust myself to remember a thing I meant to write down, I lose it almost immediately. But not so completely as to not be plagued periodically with that nagging sense that there's something I can't quite remember and I will never be able to get it right. For some reason, this time, that sentence kept reappearing in my mind. Enough times to even survive the spell when I convinced myself it was no longer worth writing. Surviving into the gentler welcome of my recommitment to its truth. "Something about that night made me think of you." Even remembering the sentence reminded me of the cold and the rain and the absence of the nightlight.

I always had a nightlight on back then. The bulbs all seem to burn out now, though. Even when I replace them. None of it works anymore. So the room is dark. Instead of murky with shadows. Light and shadow pointing up the places where the plaster has been patched. Parts of the ceiling I once planned to dress up with fancy fabrics and unusual light fixtures. But I was never able to buy a step ladder that was tall enough to help me reach the ceiling but not so tall that I couldn't fit it in my car. I guess I've since gotten one. But I no longer have that red fabric inspiration. Or the certainty that I will be here for very long. I bought moisturizer on eBay because it's no longer available retail. A specific moisturizer that I used a while ago. A smell I liked right off. A smell that makes memories of mornings and making up. The face. Not the other kind. I used it sparingly. I have so many choices on my dressing table that I seldom use anything up very quickly. And by the time it was all gone, they didn't make it anymore. And I was sad about it and kept the bottle because there were dregs in it, and it still smelled the way it smells. Now I buy it discontinued on the internet, but I can't make new memories with it. I can only remember thinking how nice it smelled when everything else was different. Sometimes I can remember some of what happened around that thought. "Oh, what a lovely scent. Is it really St. Patrick's Day already?" "Mm, I like the way my face smells. Two tickets for Minority Report, please." It's like a mild cohesive force. The thing that makes the meniscus in a graduated cylinder. This memory stuck to this other one. Just when I was pulling away. Just a bit of it.

I kept a bar of soap that smelled perfectly like chamomile tea. It was long since discontinued when I realized how much I liked it. And then I spent years -- literally, years -- buying every kind of chamomile-scented soap hoping to find that scent again. I never have. I did the same thing with my memory of the scent of the shampoo we got when we stayed at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo. I loved the way that shampoo smelled. And I loved the time I had when its smell was in my hair.

I still have the mostly-melted bar of soap. I don't know why I keep it. It's part of how I catch threads of things and hope to keep them going for longer than they can. Trying to sustain things. Wishing things would never end. Wishing the sun wouldn't come up or go down. Wishing for long stretches of uninterruptedness wherein there is something worth keeping alive afoot. I take pictures as a means of being able to go back. Writing things down is the same. Buying extra copies of things just in case one runs out. Stocking up for the day when my memory starts to go.

The things that used to be automatically precious don't seem to be anymore. My standards have changed. I don't even feel guilt about not helping prepare Thanksgiving dinner. I sit still and let someone else do things sometimes. I sit very still sometimes. And not just when someone comes to the door.

I'm weary of always saying the same things.

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