I know I should be answering your letters this morning, handling old envelopes, letting the tatters of rotting edges fall like confetti into my lap. The thing is, I came across some pictures taken in a photo booth at Fairmont Park, Riverside, and they made me smile. Why did I smile? Why am I smiling now as I write you? I guess because they capture “us” before you enlisted, before marriage and Nam and rehab and children, before we became the “us” we became.
The tee shirts we wore matched–white with narrow orange stripes and orange ribbing around the neck. It looks like you’re whispering sweet nothings in my ear in the above shot. Maybe you were. There were a lot of sweet nothings whispered between us in 1965. The better bet is you’re saying, “Lynnsie, how did you talk me into this silly shirt!”
“It wasn’t difficult,” I might’ve answered.
“Think I can hide behind these shades?”
“Then I’m hiding, too.”
Of course it’s all pretend. What you said or I said is long, long gone. What isn’t pretend (and this is the reason I decided to send you these photos instead of replying to your letters) is the happiness in our faces. Maybe we’d just come off the bumper cars at Fairmont’s small amusement park … or the little nine or ten car roller coaster with rises and curves so gentle they wouldn’t frighten a five-year old but still managed to frighten me. We could’ve been wet from the waist down from a water fight while peddling one of Fairmont lake’s rental paddle boats; conversation might’ve been about getting out of our wet things, you undressing me, me undressing you. Did we talk of such things back then? Or just tease ourselves with thoughts about what shouldn’t (and wasn’t) spoken aloud?
For a quarter spent in the summer of 1965, I have a tiny album of treasure, one I wanted to share of days before the future we didn’t know arrived to swallow us up, cause us to marry (perhaps prematurely), and survive as best we could for as long as we could. There were fish to catch–and we did. A lake to sail–and we did. A family to make–and we did.
Tomorrow or next week I’ll be a good girl and get back on task with the box of your waiting letters. Promise! For today, I needed this.