Not as fun as it was a year ago at 2 AM, dancing with your husband across the living room to hits of the 90s.
More important now.
No longer just what it felt like to push a Lite Brite peg through paper or wearing your mother’s lotion the night of your first kiss but a conversation from your last brunch and a new friend’s crooked tooth and her hand resting easy against your back as the waitress snapped a group photo.
A privilege, and sometimes a danger. You try always to make certain you’re holding it in careful hands, seeing it clearly, each memory for what it is, inasmuch as anyone can do that. Some memories are blueprints for the life you hope to build on the other side of this plague, but there are nights when you know you’re looking back in case you never get another chance.
A life before red ambulance lights turned your bedroom into a morbid discotheque.
Every city you inhabited before New York.
A hometown that will never be the center of anything.
Your grandfather plucking tomatoes off the vine, canning them at the kitchen counter while he sang along with the Shangri-Las: tell him that I love him, tell him that I care. Don’t think about the frail creature slumped in his wheelchair mistaking you for your mother. Don’t imagine him with fever on his way to a hospital he may never leave. Don’t enumerate the moments he can no longer recall. Recall them for him instead, the ones you were present for, the ones he told you. Remember him as a voice booming from a pulpit, how even when you’d outgrown belief in the Word, you still believed that voice could hold you safe.
A super power. Not quite time travel, but as close as you can get.
The sun-and-moon-faced clock that sat beside your bed in fourth grade, calling you awake with your horoscope. Libra, now is the perfect time to plan for the future. You find one just like it for $34.95 on eBay, swear you’ll buy it if you survive this. You put no stock in astrology, but you’d pay any price for what it promises: a new day, one with you in it.
Sutton Strother is a writer and English instructor living in New York. Her writing has been featured in SmokeLong Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, Jellyfish Review, Pidgeonholes, and elsewhere. You can find more of her work at suttonstrother.wordpress.com. She tweets @suttonstrother.