Thirteen years previously:
It was 1990, maybe 1991, and I was 11 years old, and I was standing in the courtyard of the same high school, presumably. At the time, I was going to a free school with a few dozen students in the Portland area. The school started with good intentions, perhaps, but it would, in the course of the year that I went there, devolve into mere anarchy. Sometime toward the beginning, when we were all full of optimism, someone arranged a trip for us to participate in some type of science fair. It was held at a gigantic suburban high school, or at least it seemed like it was gigantic when I was 12. Brutalist architecture, although prettier than most, with a courtyard full of mezzanines. It felt like being on the Starship Enterprise, helped by so many people running around, doing important things. It was quite a contrast to our threadbare little experimental school.
I only remember one event I went to that day: a map challenge. We were given a road atlas, a series of hazy directions, and had to pretend we were navigating our way across some weird tangle of highways someplace immeasurable far eastward, like Indiana. I was still very awkward and unsure of myself, so I didn't think my participation would come to anything, but apparently I could figure out the maps better than most, because at the end of the competition, I was awarded a second place ribbon. It seems that even at an early age, my innate fascination with maps and geography was working. I only remember one fellow student that went with me, and even his presence there was an assumption. He was a chubby little kid a few years younger than me, even more scatterbrained and childish than myself. He was of South Asian descent, Mizrahi and Parsee.
I met him again a dozen years later, the same time as the above writeup happened, due to the graces of Livejournal and Portland's scene. In a dozen years, the age difference between us had disappeared, and his weirdness had turned into the cool type of weirdness. He was still a dork, but he had a college radio show and his disheveled self was now spending time with rock stars, or what passed for rock stars in Portland. We saw Richie Havens perform at a record store. We went to art films. We hung out. He would appear and disappear from my life. Last spring, during the height of the pandemic, he had Zoom Parties, where we would sit around and drink White Claws with his other record store clerk friends. We would exchange grand e-Mail threads about gossip and the Portland Trailblazers, and then disappear. I wrote him this morning to say that I found an Errol Garner record at a thrift store. He responded with a single word: "cool".
I can't think of an epiphany to this story, and maybe that is the epiphany. For thirty years, ever since we were chubby kids, to our 40s, where we are chubby adults, I have had a relationship with him that travel in bending parallels, off and on.
So this is actually a counterpoint. Through my life, I haven't dealt with images. What I see around me isn't a flicker or flair, something that disappears. For people and places, they are all mud on my boots, parts of a story that aren't going away. Shadows are not very viscous but every memory I have is, pulling at connections that go down to the present moment.