I know how quickly winter comes on this close to the Atlantic. I know the feeling of frozen sand and the way that salt water cracks and makes cloudy ice on the shoreline.
I know, though I will deny it to my parents, what American Sprits in a sage colored box taste like on the frost beachhead with a friend who has since died, talking about our unconquerable and unpredictable future.
I know the way that banjo strings sting the fingers, and how old guitar strings leave rust in the skin. The old Marconi station fell into the sea several decades ago, but the beach on which it stood still bears its name. So too does the high school still bear faint whispers of our voices in stories and ballpoint pen graffiti, just as the brambles in the woods bear our blood and scraps of our clothes. The Coffee Obsession shop downtown bears spilled sugar packets and scraps of muffins. The chessboard on the bookshelf knows countless games which we wagered coffee over, though now the pieces disappear, just as the members of my graduating class have.
I know what it’s like to be kissed in a darkroom smelling of developer and fixer chemicals and lit in red light. I know what its like to be kissed at a lighthouse, to make love in a dusty bedroom in a house filled with wall to wall with oil paintings on Milford street, and I know what it feels like to have it fall apart after a sleepless and drunken night someone dared to call a party in a gated community off Cape on some godforsaken cul-de-sac. Fuck that 4th of July party and fuck him too. But I didn’t say that when she told me what she’d done. I just cried and cried and she didn’t say anything at all.
I know a lot of things, like not to leave the heat on too high in an old farmhouse because it costs too much money. I know not to yell over the roar of a snow blower trying to dig your car out so you can go get laid. It turns out that the neighbors can hear you. I know not to take the little things for granted, like how my friends and I would gather round the large table at Coffee Obsession in Woods Hole and gossip, and one time this girl who would one day become a pivotal plot point one night in a gated community years later had asked me to walk around the deserted town with her one November and to help take care of her neighbor’s blind cat.
I know these days will end eventually, like the songs we liked when we were teenagers that lacked any sort of poetic nuance. I know a lot of damn fine and pretty things. I know the intimacy of watching horror movies naked in bed. I know the meaning of salt air and the meaning of friends dying young and the meaning of why we probably shouldn’t smoke for our health and why James laughed that one time we got chased off the train bridge over the canal and why Brendan went a little crazy in Germany and why the stars wont stay still in Savannah’s backyard and why every little drip of memory is pouring out of me like Guinness from the tap. On pages I pour another that leaves a ring shaped stain and begin again and wander into the backyard to find the love and the friends from days long since set who have disappeared into the things I know.