My mom couldn’t make it to the library because I spent too much time in the McDonalds parking lot eating a McFlurry. Does that make sense to you? Does the sentence have everything it needs? We share a car, or we did that day at least, I normally don’t have a car, but that day she let me use hers because I said I had an “errand” which wasn’t a lie, MickieDees could be an errand. And I ordered at the drive through to keep things moving, but it was so hot and humid out and we live too far from the McDanks so I decided, instead of letting it turn to soup on the way home, or instead of risking a crash trying to house it on the road, I would just eat it in the parking lot there and then drive home.
I’m going to go back and change some of the McDonalds names to the names we used to call it as kids trying to be funny, and succeeding if I remember right. I’ll change some as I go too.
I was sitting in the car and I had taken my seatbelt off because I was sticking to it and I was parked and the engine was off and the windows were down and the cicadas were screaming, if that’s the word, they were thunderous if you let me be a little dramatic; histrionic if that’s right. And because the windows were all down and I was parked at the MacDernies at the end of Dybeck, where it runs into 41, and because it was that time of year where summer was loudest and hottest and biggest, the wind was coming in from the lake which you couldn’t see, the lake I mean, the lake was behind the preserve on the other side of 41 and that wind met the hot air and everything always felt like it was being lifted, like if you let a feather go or you let some dog hair out of your fingers from the car window, that it would float up into the clouds that were always so dramatic and heavy and slow.
When it’s hot and quiet and everything is so still it makes you, or it makes me remember more. I think that’s true, is it not true for you? This whole thing is me remembering now, but this part of the day I am remembering I was remembering. It doesn’t make sense to make it more confusing than it needs to be, popping in and out of it like this, but I am trying explain that I started to remember more at that point, like I am remembering this whole thing at this moment, a moment that isn’t at that parking lot or even in the summer at all. Today is a winter day actually. Cold outside but in a biting way, not in a holiday cheer way. But I’m trying to bring us back to that time in the heat where I am remembering.
At that point I’m remembering the lake where this guy and I met the first time, the lake on the other side of the preserve, not that same beach but the same shore I guess. This guy who seemed pretty perfect at that point. Maybe all the way perfect. There’s almost always this gulf in-between the person you meet and the person you cobbled together in your head, Frankensteining the few things they said right online with the qualities you want him to have and the unsaid things you hope he’d have said. Even the voice and the eyes and laugh, the things you hadn’t completely seen, or that I hadn’t. Sorry I’m trying to keep this specific but I keep waxing poetic? Is that the phrase. I get abstract when I talk about this stuff, or this guy specifically because it’s easier to just paint with a thick brush and let the detail fall away.
Anyway that was what I was remembering right then, how this guy seemed to be the right fit right away. Even though of course not everything worked. He and I hadn’t spoken by then, by the McDonalds parking lot, in over a year. In-between that parking lot and the first time at the beach there was a ton of stuff I was choosing not to remember, little boxes and cabinets I was choosing to keep closed. One time when he said that he thought maybe I just really wanted to be liked or one time when I said he was hard to talk to, or this one time in his car, this box I rarely opened, this time in his car he said he wasn’t sure what it was about me he liked and I took it one way on purpose even though I think we both knew he meant it the other way and I got out instead of keeping my head on his lap, how was it on his lap? Maybe his shoulder? Or maybe we were on that bench by the park I never went anymore. It’s sad to open a box and feel the memory may have thinned out a bit in time. Ideally it’s a box I don’t need to open to maintain the insides. I want to be able to feel that knife again, even if its me doing the knifing if that makes sense. I don’t know where this one started either. The point is I wasn’t opening these boxes that made me remember the whole thing, the perfect scary rollercoaster, I was only looking at the start of it all when I met him on the beach and it was a little awkward but only for a minute or two because then we fell into a conversation that maybe felt like we had been talking since we were kids and it was funny to see what he laughed at and what surprised him and to watch him try and make me laugh the same way and of course it was working because at that point it was always going to make me laugh.
I’m fine just remembering the good parts sometimes and not the parts that make me nauseated which is another word people swap out for its more common one even though that’s wrong. And you can’t correct them because that’s pedantic, which itself is one of those perfect words.
If I needed to balance that beach memory out, if I needed to take two memories so that they would average out then I would go into another aisle in my brain I guess and I would take something else out but I just wanted to feel the wind through the windows and feel excited again at how good things can be.
Where did that start? I got lost again. This always happens, I think it’s the heat. I think when my brain gets a little too warm that the first thing it gets bad at is holding onto a thread. I think it’s the same with a hangover. The first thing to go is keeping track of where I came from and where I’m going.
It started with deciding to eat my McFlurry in the parking lot, which alone, would not have been an issue, but then, the heat and the lifting and the cicadas distracted me and I finished my McFlurry and it was great but then I just let my head fall back and I let my eyes unfocus a bit and I watched the branches above the car, I watched them through the open sunroof or moonroof, whichever one opens, did you know that was the difference? People use those interchangeably but they aren’t, if they were then there’d be one word. I let my eyes watch the branches bend and I watched the sky change from the light cotton candy blue-pink type color that summer nights always start as, and I watched it change to a lighter purple before I started the car again, before I pulled out back onto Dybeck, my back to the lake now, sticking to the seatbelt again, cicadas somehow louder than before.
I got home and I said hi and she, my mom, the owner of the car I was using, she asked where I went and I said I had to run an errand, something I still believe is true, and she didn’t say anything, she was looking at her phone and I asked if she needed the car tonight, and she said no I was going to run to the library to grab a book on hold but I think it closed, and I said oh I should’ve just grabbed it while I was out, which she shrugged off while she said she’d just go tomorrow and I said I wish you’d told me and she said it didn’t matter and I believed her I guess but I still felt silly for sitting all that time in the parking lot, eating my McFlurry and watching summer happen and remembering summer happen too.