At once – yet seemingly decades in the making – the blanket remembers the body it is wrapped around. It is still warm in places no other skins have touched, though coldest where you used to bury your face, to hide from the monsters you think watch you when you sleep. It has been years since you last hid from them; they’ve become bearable somehow, company in the longest and quietest hours, a friend almost.
I don’t sleep well. Haven’t for over three years. Summary prognosis: existential decay; immediate cause: overthinking. I should’ve gone to medical school. Should’ve taken Biology for premed. Should’ve become a brilliant neurosurgeon. Maybe then I’d feel like I’ve done more for the world than it has for me, that I could at least reciprocate its efforts at keeping me alive.
The smell is the same but it doesn’t match the room you wake up in: early morning dew lifting from dusty streets, heat from unventilated rooms, the sweet smell of unfinished brandy. The heart remains vulnerable to such reminiscences, even as the brain constantly flushes it out of the cache. Memory is precious and the mind has too little of it to spare. If a large fraction of memory were to devote itself to the details of a summer years and years ago, it would forget everything else that does not come close – and doubtless nothing ever will.
I accept a lot of my faults, and the few I don’t I chalk up to my stubbornness, which I fully accept. I had imagined a different life for me when I chose to leave: perhaps a different city, perhaps a different person, perhaps a different mind that calls for different things. Perhaps a different heart that calls for different desires. I accept now that I was wrong: I was stubborn to think the human changes with the habitat. The human changes whether they stay in one place or another. Or it doesn’t, particularly when it’s stubborn to a fault, particularly when it sees its stubbornness as an excusable flaw, particularly when stubbornness is the least of its many sad realities.
Turn at the corner where you first met. Look past the lamppost, into the side street where they disappear every afternoon on the way home. Maybe it’s still there, just as it is still here.