I took a walk near my hotel tonight through an older neighborhood of wide sidewalks, tall, old growth trees, and beautiful homes in varying states of being: from immaculately manicured lawns and fresh paint to ramshackle and almost obscured from view by vines and wild growth.
I walk fast and take in the smells – the headiness of freshly cut grass, the deep, dank of wet earth and slowly rotting wood, the striking, sudden sweetness of August’s last gardenias, the familiar smell of my own body, my thoughts, soul, organs heated through.
I try to walk as fast as the memories come: my small hand in yours walking around the block of my childhood neighborhood. During the summer, we walked at dusk, in the gloaming, where dark silhouettes of trees gave birth to tiny bats that soared, then dove into the blue night, seemingly mad with excitement.
I remember you asking if we wanted to go for ice cream, as if there was a chance we’d say no? We climbed into the car, sister in front, me in back, my head sunk into the car seat watching the streetlights as they flickered on, windows rolled down, squinting into the evening breeze.
At the ice cream parlor, we stood outside in a crooked line of parents and kids that led up to a window where frazzled, sticky teenagers dolled out double dips, sundaes and sprinkles. Antsy for my turn but ever obedient, I leaned my body against you, my head at your hip. Until your warm hand found its way to the top of my head, then to my shoulder, patting now, and your soft, certain voice urging your shy baby girl to step up to the window and ask politely for a scoop of raspberry with chocolate sprinkles in a cup.