I can’t work out whether we checked the lottery ticket on the same day the car got stuck on the train tracks or if these are two stories I’ve stuck together with the glue of memory.
It wasn’t far from the house, the pharmacy, but we drove anyway. You had to pick up a prescription but, more importantly, you had the lottery ticket you wanted to check. For some reason I stayed in the car while you went in. I remember that because I can still see the look on your face from across the parking lot as you walked out the door. You had won – $75 I think it was – but it wasn’t the amount, it was the winning itself you said. You were as giddy as a little boy, your eyebrows raised, your blue eyes twinkling, face flushed.
I don’t know if it was then that we drove down the street that crosses the train tracks, if it was that day that the car stopped on the tracks. Maybe it doesn’t matter. In my mind it is the same day. In my mind, it isn’t 30 years ago.
It must not have been long that we sat there, though moments like that always feel like they stretch out into forever. You got the car running – I don’t even know now whether there was ever any danger of a train coming. We must have gone home then, down the fabled streets of my mother’s youth, wending our way through her stories, walking through the storybook of her life. I used to love hearing those stories, driving those roads.
We must have gone home and had something to eat – it would have been bacon sandwiches for lunch or chips (plain) if it was happy hour. Then you would have relaxed into your chair to listen to music, or gone out to the back 40 or the garage, and I might have played inside at your feet or, if you were outside, near you.
Just another day, another day that floats back to me, triggered by unexpected forces, bringing me back to you in the only place we can meet now, in my imperfect, treasured memories.