Shades of the near and distant past



July 17, 1982


The day is hot, sun pouring down, glistening on the dirty windows of downtown Passaic.

I’ve been here before, standing between the high and low towers on the south side of Main Street, recalling a time two years ago, when I waited here for my girl friend to arrive.

Back in 1980, she worked her, and I was a naïve 29-year-old writing about her.

Times change; she’s gone. But I return to the scene of my crime, hiding in the folds memory from the inevitable judgment time always brings.

The traffic rumbles by and I sit with an old love, from an earlier time, caught up inside of me, triggering old passions, fears and joys, unsettled even after more than a decade, washing through me and over me, with its own torrent of change.

I try to calculate how different I am now from what I was when I was with Louise, with Suzanne, and feel like eggs at the bottom of a pot after all the water has boiled out, out of breath, unable to think clearly. When it comes to genes and hormones, I haven’t changed at all – still needy as I ever was, and will be again, down deep in the inner most part of me, I am yearning boy, a hungry man, a beast starving for love, and still unable to untangle lust from love.

Around me, Passaic rises again like an old friend whose company I kept when I first met Louise in the old printing plant, the huff and puff of the Number 2 bus swirling me in its fumes as it makes its way in that direction but not with me aboard.

These are ancient memories that still hold me in its grip the way the cave man brain keeps hold of the so-called civilized man. It is impossible to escape their grip, and not possible to want to.

The most recent memories of this place are just now turning sweet, like fruit growing over ripe with heat – too sweet to be believed, the bitterness of the bitten skin long lost. That bench, this dusty office, this walk around the building’s doors, are things that crowd me inside, and make me ache for that time again, when I ached to be free of it at that time.

She worked her that summer and fall, and then moved on to another, harder world, abandoning this place and her older dreams, among which was me.

This day is hot. I hide in this shade. But it does little to cool me.


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