Smells & Memory

As many of the folks who know me already know, I’m back in Pennsylvania visiting my family for Christmas and, for the first time perhaps since college I’m going to be here for New Years. And that’s a long time ago, chil’ren.

I’ve been dropping ad hoc photos of the current Winter Wonderland that is NE PA up onto FaceBook (the iPhone app for FaceBook is very nice, indeed. Well done, yous guys), so I might as well drop ‘em here, too:

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I usually show up here with my luggage packed at the last minute, but miraculously well-stocked with the things I need; usually that goes double when it comes to particulars like computer and iPod cables and medical stuff like, well, meds and over-the-counter stuff like blistex (hello, wintertime).

No miracles this year as far as that goes, though. I forgot a remote for my tv, which has no front panel controls. I forgot Blistex, too, but thankfully my mom had some Carmex.

I took it and applied it to my reddened, cracked lips and the smell hit me like a ton of bricks. I never liked Carmex, but Allen did. There were always pots of it all over the house. As yet another side effect of the fistfuls of meds he took, he was always using Carmex.

It was sudden and it was jarring, but it was also sweet and comforting. It was heady and disorienting, transporting even. Memories are only viewed as memories when you have a perspective: I am standing Here and I am standing Now and I know This and so these sensations are only from Then and aren’t real: therefore & ergo, Memories.

Only remember, I was jarred and transported.

And since I started taking topamax, I’ve been having dreams. Not dreams, Dreams.

They’re not upsetting and they’re not shroomy. Not psychedelic, but the color gamut is tilted towards the saturated end, kind of like an episode of “Pushing Daisies”. They involve people from my past and they’re all pastoral and bucolic, at least in feel if not in form.

People whom I loved or at least liked—have you ever noticed that Time has a way of not only tempering feelings but also antiquing them and instaling them into fundamental niches of emotion? For example, there were people in school that in those times if asked I would have said they were friends or that I liked them. Looking back through the haze, through the lacquered glass of history, the sepia varnish and umber wash fixative of years, I can say in that somatic way they were people I genuinely loved.

I loved my friends and I loved them because they hadn’t yet become their own destinies but I loved that I was there to see them trying and not trying, too busy becoming to be aiming consciously.

Earlier this afternoon I was talking to my mom about Obama’s choice of Rick Warren and I was telling her about Warren’s wife’s, Kay, who nearly two years ago to the day hauled out her prodigious pomposity and her willful and blatant ignorance of the past to talk about fighting the AIDS empidemic. She and their Saddleback congregation were about to embark on taking on the fight in stopping AIDS. In part, what Kay Warren said was: If we don’t do something, who will? If we don’t show God’s love, who will? If we don’t show up, who will?.

I got upset just repeating it to my mom, but I covered it with a cough and I just sounded stuffed up.

Can you imagine the gall? I said. Wasn’t I there for Allen? Wasn’t Dianne Feinstein there in San Francisco in the early 80s when even Ronald Reagan and the Feds weren’t? All those gay men who died? All those other gay men and all those Lesbians who did all they could? All of those people? And this Kay Warren just swans in—

I stopped.

Anyway, Then started back: I just burst into tears when I read that she said that.

Ohh, Jeffy. You miss him him a lot, don’t you, my mom asked me.

I didn’t answer. She wasn’t really asking a question anyway.

I left the room. I couldn’t be around anyone, even though I didn’t want to be alone, like, at all.