Memories floating on the wind
My brother and I sit in our house, or our parents’ house as maybe I should say now. It is after midnight and incredibly hot. Humid, sticky, miserable Ohio summer heat. A few hours ago I showered, and already I am coated in a layer of grimy perspiration. The kind of uncomfortable sweat that would fight away sleep if I was lying in bed.
I have to work early tomorrow. I’ll be roofing, tearing my hands open on sand-paper shingles, destroying my knees by spending the day on them. I should get some sleep; I should be exhausted from today’s work on the construction site. I’m not exhausted, and I’m in no hurry to go to sleep. My brother and I are talking, spending a few minutes together. He leaves in two days, and I leave at the beginning of next month.
He’ll be driving 2,000 miles west to Reno, where he’ll start looking for a job and a way to start over. After dropping out of art college, an unsuccessful stint in the Marine Corps and then a crappy job designing ads for the yellow pages, he figures what the heck. Why not try something new?
Me: I’m leaving for my third year in college.
We’re at the kitchen table, beers in our hands and a few empties on the table. It is hot, almost unbearably hot, even after midnight. The heat is claustrophobic, enveloping me. I can’t get away from it. The beer helps keep us comfortable, though, and so do the memories.
Close to 1 a.m. I start to feel the need for sleep. I am not tired and don’t want to go to bed, but logic tells me I should. Dawn isn’t far away, and with it will come 10 hours of driving nails and carrying bundles of shingles up ladders and across the uneven surface of the roof. Up there, the sun reflects from the black tar paper, increasing the temperature. Ninety-five degrees becomes 115. I can’t escape the flames of summer; I look forward to fall and college. I enjoy summer usually, but it has worn out its welcome. And I am ready to go on. For now, though, I just need sleep.
I mention to my brother I need to sleep, but then I feel something brushing up against me. A breeze, coming through the window, surprising and refreshing me. It’s like I’ve never felt a breeze before. I hear trees rustling and swaying outside. More cool air comes in, pouring now. Papers on the table lift into the air, levitate for a moment, and drop to the floor. Exclaiming, excited, my brother and I get up, leaving our beers and our memories, and go outside.
Out on the porch, the world becomes dark. The wind is blowing, gusting. It would be an unwelcome wind in any other situation, but now it is cooling, surprising and beautiful. We run out into the yard like happy children playing in the rain. I feel exhilarated and somewhat frightened. The wind comes from all directions, changing, shifting. It is uncontrolled, and the trees dance in its gusts. I walk into the street, imagining the blacktop to still be warm under my bare feet. It is not; it is cool like everything is now. I am chilled, but not uncomfortable, standing in the center of the street.
The road stretches to both dark horizons, no cars anywhere. I am grinning. I raise my arms, lean my head back to look into the sky, and tell my brother how awesome it is.
– Andy Bourelle is a reporter at the Tahoe Daily Tribune; his brother is graphic designer in Seattle.
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