It startles me awake. Unmistakable. Your smile assures me I am not wrong. The sound of water trickling down to earth. We know what this means. The wells will fill up, the crops will sprout, we will be fine. We rush outside. Letting the rain cascade into our mouths, eyes closed and tongue out, we both cry. The air fills with petrichor, the aromatics provided by the wet earth so familiar but long absent from my receptors.
I am transported to the swing in my front yard during one of my childhood summers on the northern peninsula. Very few people remain in the area, and those that do are either too stubborn to relocate or too old to leave their homes for a different life in a bigger town, incentives ignored. I’m four years old, maybe five, wearing yellow boots, light blue overalls, and a striped red and white t-shirt that gave me the now-faded nickname of Waldo.
This memory is not a phantom. It is too vivid. The olfactory leaves these intense impressions, and there is no mistaking this nostalgia.
The rain picks up quickly, and soon it erupts into a storm. We lay in the field behind the barn, inviting the strong winds and torrential downpour onto our bodies. The sleeplessness and euphoric bewilderment, united with the realization that it will all be okay, is mind altering. Different together, superconnected that I never knew existed. We make love. It doesn’t matter that we are outside, that we will get dirty, that we can get hurt. It was the most I ever loved you, the most passionate and sincere we had ever been and would ever be. This memory is real too.
The pounding rain. It hasn’t let up for weeks. The rainy season should have come and gone. What’s left of our crops can’t handle much more of this. I prayed for it, in tradition, at the ceremony just before the growing season. I have to laugh at that now. Maybe we should have prayed just a little less. God crying, my mother used to tell me. He must have seen all his children devoured by the devil’s mouth.
You were always more laid back than me. You knew it would be okay, that it was never as bad as I sometimes thought. I needed that. I need you. Your spirit is relentless, but still you understand the situation and so you try to convince me that this is the right time to leave our home, all that we ever knew, and begin an adventure. Go somewhere exotic. That word is still new to me and doesn’t fit into my vocabulary. I will do whatever she says, go wherever she wants. You haven’t been wrong yet, and it’s not like this is the only life I want to be living. Our town is dwindling anyway. My only real friends are all gone now. Toronto, Montreal, anywhere that isn’t here.
I don’t want to be stagnant. I want to live through experiences, create stories, for others and myself. My life, if written today, would be dull. I am afraid to record those thoughts for fear of the realization that I am boring. But I don’t have to be. Maybe I’ll wake you up as you sleep beside me now, tell you to pack a bag, reveal to you that we’re leaving. You often spoke of Italy and how you would like to live there, to learn the language and take in the rolling hills. I could pick you up, throw you over my shoulder, and tell you we’re going there and never coming back. You would like that. You want me to be more direct, more powerful. I know that. I’m not scared – I just don’t know how. You trust me enough that you’re still here. I should trust myself enough to make you happy.