The moonlight is less than it was last night, through clouds or attrition and the Coyotes have migrated to quieter hunting grounds. Warrior Girl sleeps deeply and Lucas snores, his half face leaking air into the darkness. Tyger Linn gets up and goes to the window, puts her front paws on the sill and looks into the depths. Her left front leg bends and she tucks a paw next to her chest as if she’s cocking a hammer. But there are no targets this night. Tyger Linn returns to her pack and nests between the two males in the pack. She falls asleep instantly and deeply.
I watch the moonlight creep back into the darkness. Unbidden and unlooked for, a memory of a very young girl eases back into my mind. She and I made love in my father’s car, in the moonlight, and the image of her body in that light stays with me still. Many years ago, decades ago, I loved her as if there would be no tomorrow and eventually there wasn’t.
We skipped school once, she and I, and at first she told me we had to keep our clothes on, because we were hiding out at her parent’s house and they would kill us if her mother or father came home and caught us in bed. But the heat kept rising between us, as it will with young lovers, and we took a blanket to a place in the woods nearby where there was an old abandoned house. Right there in an open spot in front of the house we spent the day exploring who we were and what we liked. It was the first time there wasn’t a time to get her home, a time I had to be back, and it was time stolen from the adult world to do adult things with our adult bodies, even if we were still very much young in our minds. Her body looked incredible by moonlight or by sunlight, and suddenly, the morning had turned to afternoon, and she made me a sandwich in her parent’s kitchen, an adult thing to do, and it was as if this would be our future one day, to have a house, and a kitchen, and there would be that time we shared between the bodies we shared. The time in high school oozed by like wet sand through a tiny hourglass but the time spent with her was a an avalanche; suddenly I had to leave and suddenly I was thinking about how to get someone to write an excuse for me for missing school. That was so terribly important; not to be tardy or absent, yes, those were the high crimes to be committed when a person stole time of their own life to spend other than how it was demanded.
She’s a grandmother now, her daughter a mother, and I haven’t seen her since before I was in the Army. She’s lived her life and I have lived mine, and the two lives never came close to having any sort of intersection. I wonder what happened to the old house behind where her parents lived, and I wonder if they live still. I often wondered whose old house that was, and if they ever made love in that spot and I wonder if they lost love or they found it.
That house stood during a time when people were married and they stayed that way, ever it may bring. There were fewer distractions, fewer opportunities, and who you loved was all you had. We, as a culture, transitioned from stay forever to stay for the kids to stay until you want to leave. There are species of insects who live longer than how long my marriage lasted so I’m the last person to speak of this subject with some wistful yearning, but still…
For whatever reason it might have been, a friend of mine who was dying of cancer, moved to within a mile of her parent’s house. It was odd being in that part of the world when I visited him, it was odd being that close to that house, it was terrible and strange to know he was dying, and it seemed odd that a dying man could sit and talk about things in the past and remember so well that which was, and know that the past would soon engulf him. It is one thing to know that someone was once a part of your life and now lives another life, and it is quite another thing to know that someone was once a part of your life but no longer lives. It’s as if in the light of day I looked down and part of my own shadow was missing, gone forever, and would never be replaced. All the memories that I shared with that one person I have now inherited as a singular set. Like something gained in a divorce the possession is lessened somewhat by the lack of the other half of a relationship. It was not my memories, our memories, that made life what it was but the person who helped create them.
He’s dead now, and I thought there might be a time when I looked back and time had stopped or paused, or something, and that I might have a chance to just sit and reflect upon his life, his death, our life, but now it’s been nearly two years. My long lost lover has been gone for many times that time. I know they knew one another and I know there had to be some point in time we were all in the same place at the same time, but I cannot remember that now. It is gone, lost forever, perhaps as a memory someone else holds, I cannot say.
But love, like life, isn’t about memory or about how it was. It is about how it is and how it will be. To delve too deeply or to dwell too long in the past life or past love is to lose everything in the present. There is nothing, nothing at all, back there in the past, no, not love not life, just memories. A person can only honor life, and honor love, by living and loving, right now.