Snow Angels in the High Grass

Once, many moons ago, I spent a week living on the couch of some people I barely knew in a small town I had never spent much time in, with too little money and nothing to slow a march of days that seemed to speed by while also being interminably long.  It was September, and each morning and late afternoon a wind would crawl down from the sloping Appalachians and swirl through the wide valley, sifting and reshaping the clouds.  By early afternoon, the sun would begin to set, the lights of distant truck stops making shadows of the nearby hills.

I spent much of the week walking through the unfamiliar neighboorhood, trying to imagine what it would be like to make a life there, behind that fence, in that shed, down that crumbling walkway.  This wasn’t an unusual pursuit, since at the time I was a stranger to adult life everywhere I went, no matter where I laid my head at night.

I had come to this temporary situation after failing to please the last people I had been staying with, and I had come to those folks after failing to please the people before them.  I was now occupying one corner of a dingy living room in a second story efficiency that smelled like dogs despite there being no dogs.  I followed the kind of schedule only the truly underemployed or severely addicted can devise.  Each morning, I would walk to the corner greasy diner that had become my office.  In the evenings I would wander to the pond on the outskirts of town and read. In the evenings I’d sit in the silent dark and write down individual titles to my sleeping dreams from the night before, scribbling details on the insides of book covers and the backs of ATM receipts.

The days came and went like half-remembered tremors.  It got uncharacteristically warm for a few days.  I laid down in the thigh-high grass in a farmer’s field one afternoon and pretended to make a snow angel, but nothing happened.  I remember the buzzing of the insects, and the precise smell, and the feel of the heat on my face which made my outside feel the opposite of my inside, which was dark, frigid, and dying.

It would be interesting, if someone were to make a movie about my life, if they just made it of this single, listless, seamlessly depressing week, leaving the viewer to wonder what could possibly have come before, and be anxious for what was to come after, and then the credits roll, and they never know.  Just leave them with the image of this drunk, solitary, silent 22-year-old, making snow angels in the high grass.

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