My eyes close, bathed in the pallid orange glow of sodium-vapor street lamps outside of my apartment. Strings of thought dissolve in to threads of memories, like nerves that can be plucked and awakened by my transient state as I begin to pass through the chasm in time between here and those nights.
I remember the cool blue light that the moon cast on us that evening. The pale, glowing orb hung in the sky and gave our world the softest of glows, frosting the tall grass in the middle of a hot summer night. We piloted across the top of the Eastern hill, navigating trails by strong instinct and weak headlights. Climbing the hill, testing our balance, we finally came to a rest at the highest peak.
We turned off our lights and plunged into darkness. The dull, muted echos of late night zydeco filled the valley’s humid air in waves. Those dulcet tones and the crackling of campfires permeated the valley below; ripples of energy tore through every person, chaotic and swirling, but where we stood, it was still.
For a moment, we absorbed it, harnessing the pulses from below, capturing them as we dissolved ourselves into the night.
There were others there, souls along for the same journey that you were, but their breaths did not penetrate our universe. Their voices echoed out in to the night, perhaps in search of their own gravity and meaning, or perhaps, in search of nothing at all as they traveled in waves out towards space.
I did not touch you that night, nor ever really, except the soft pressure of your shoulder that penetrated my blood, confident and icy. I enjoyed the boundary, it gave us context.
A spark; you lit your cigarette slowly, and were cast in an orange, smokey glow. The anonymity of the night was pierced by the flame for a moment, bright light and dark shadows cascaded on your face. You closed your eyes and inhaled, the smoke filling you from the inside as you became one with it. The flame inhabited you, it gave you life as it slowly killed you.
I pulled out my last cigarette and held it affectionately. I held it as any other sin, and it rolled around my fingers in a dance of pleasure and irreverence.
I was filled with energy that evening, it eddied inside of me like sparks of electricity. I was possessed with spirit, channeling parts of myself I haven’t felt in a long while. I could feel the souls in the valley below us. I felt their vibrations, unattached yet bonded, like the fireflies that danced around the field before us.
We traversed the land that evening, from its highest point to its deepest valley. We drove the cart recklessly, traveling through pockets of warm and cold air that splashed in our faces.
The same monochrome moon that blanketed the field in light was reduced to short rays of illumination through the trees by the bog. Cacophonous choirs of bullfrogs filled the humid summer air, singing a song, a thousand strong. To them, it was a violent conversation; a competition among brothers for the title of the strongest, but to us it was tumultuous serenity.
The rest of the festival waited for us, their cries and wails still echoing through the evergreens. But we took our time, connecting to the earth by feeling the moss with our hands as we sat by the water. Again, you challenged the spaced between us, always existing close enough to my center to hold the connection, but far enough away to drive me mad. You and I were magnetic poles, repelling each other while thriving on the flux between us.
You drove your fingers deep in the moss as if you were tapping in to the earth, your hands like roots gathering energy and life from the soil. You pulled vitality out of the ground like it was a nutrient, enriching your core. I witnessed your interface, passing information to the earth and freeing up space on your precious, troubled mind. You eased up. You breathed deep. You evaporated, right there in front me.
We have done this for so many years. You would materialize to me right after every summer solstice, and fade away just as quickly. Each time, we danced our words around one another like rapiers; never with intent to harm but with full intent to duel. And maybe it was serendipity playing her cruel games on us simply by our introduction, or maybe I was blindly falling in to traps placed by you alone. But the memories smell like incense and campfire and petrichor, and however beleaguered I became, I was always standing there at the side of the trail, waiting after every solstice.