Sunday, March 8, 2009

summer night

I want to write. Here I go, I'm in one of those moods. I don't know what it is, but all day I've felt like this. Just contemplative and reminiscent and all my memory senses are going haywire. What I mean that is I've been listening to music that brings me back to all kinds of things I haven't thought of in years, music that's bringing me to places I've never been, letting me know that God has something huge planned for me.

I'm thinking about my brother, I'm thinking about the way we used to play in the woods together, that one time we got in our sleeping bags and laid on the ground behind the trailer together and watched the only meteor shower I've ever seen on one of the coldest nights I've ever slept outside, and how I remember it as cold fingers and lights and warmth playing at the edges of everything. The way the pines and stretched out fields of Onslow County were home to us for a while.

And there is so much that I don't know. But when the seasons start to change like this, when I'm by myself and it's quiet for a while, I'm filled to bursting with memories of things that just knock me down. They aren't even always memories, necessarily. It's feelings of memories, memories of feelings. I remember the light. How in Richlands it was more yellow, and on Rumley Rd. it was orange-pink from the roof of our house, watching the sun go down over the field and everything gone to glow. Greensboro was more clear and bright, running cross country, sharp air. The air, I remember that too. Cool on my skin like night. And then hot and heavy the way it gets in the summer, nothing moving, pressing yourself against walls or concrete to keep cool.

And then the storms. I remember the storms. No matter where we moved, what part of the state. The way everything got really dark and the air changed. Cooler, suddenly, charged. The t.v. got staticky, the sound of that. And how the rain came down so hard and heavy and how when it quit everything seemed too still and too quiet. And lightning like white light. How it would fill the whole room and rush back out and the thunder would shake the china in the cabinet in the dining room at our babysitter's. We'd watch out the screen door when it had quit lightning but was still raining and hope the water would flood over the porch like it always almost did. Rumley Rd. was heat lightning, always on the edges of the world, above the pines a few counties south of us. And I'd sit on the roof on the phone, heat coming from everything, watching a cloud in the distance light up grey and pink and white and then disappear again against night.

One night on Rumley Rd. a moving van got stuck in the field behind our house, and the tires dug a hole big enough Josh could stand in it and had to be lifted out. That's the night I meant before, the one I was thinking about the other day. I don't know why that night is so happy. It must have been hot that day because it had cooled down enough to where you could breathe again but shorts and a tshirt were still fine. And I remember running through the field barefoot and it was dark enough that I couldn't see where I was stepping really, and looking across in the darkness was like seeing in black and white. I remember feeling my way across that field, running through the sound of crickets and night and hope, running toward the barn where the hay had been moved from the truck and all the neighborhood kids were sitting, scaring each other talking about how snakes would get you 'cause you couldn't see them.

That night was lying in the grass under an open world, nothing touching you at all. And voices carrying, shouting and laughing, the small red end of the neighbor's cigarrette burning in the dark. We were all just kids with dirty feet and hands and legs and faces, the kind you'd look at and think weren't worth anything at all. We were the kind whose parents never became anything and money disappeared and family secrets looked like bruises or skinny kids or words like venom. I look back on that night because we were completely hopeless, my brother and I and all the kids in that neighborhood. We were poor white trash, and that's the way it had been, only we never knew. Except that night was the one that didn't know either, and we were nothing but dreams floating up in the sky above the field. We were a summer night that never really ended, stretching on through forever, hope running on the way earth felt under my bare feet, the way it didn't matter to any of us that life was hard because that night was good.

Didn't you know that there was always hope, even when there was none? Didn't you know that this world groans under the weight of kids who are hopeless, who will never become anything because their parents never did and life and circumstance tether them to that exact lie? We were hope. We were the kind that looked nothing like it, and all we had was a summer night I just remembered but I can't forget.

When I talk about remembering feelings I can't understand, having something inside me stir at a thing I can't ever have known, I'm talking about this. I'm talking about memories of lives planned for us before we were born, about the home we were made for and have yet to see. Why is it that the air will feel a certain way and I remember a night six years ago and something in me aches for something I can't describe to you because I don't know what it is, something I should have no reason at all to hope for except I find myself looking toward it. Why do I hope and dream when all those years ago we were kids with nothing but beat-up lives and thick-skinned wishes? I remember that sky, how it didn't end, Mars on the horizon, red like a cigarrette burning, the way some things we'll never forget.

It's that there's something ahead, something huge. Something I was made for, that rises to the way the air feels on my skin and the light hangs, memories I haven't lived yet. All I know is that my God has plans for me bigger than I could ever hope for. Bigger than circumstance and bigger than that summer night.

You guys know this one already, but:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
--Jeremiah 29:11


  1. wow, just wow, this really made me think of all of my childhood memories and how we really were just a bundle of nothing but dreams and wishes, good work on the description, it really put me right beside you