Today feels like crawling into my dad’s minivan after field hockey practice, honeycrisp apple in hand from my teammate’s organized mom. She was the kind of mom who had a beautiful tote full of beautiful apples and a white smile and who made me feel, in some way, underserving of her apple. Like she meant them for the other girls but not me necessarily, I wasn’t close enough to her daughter to take a honeycrisp apple. But I took one anyways because at home, we’d probably eat cheesy potatoes, my favorite, and I should probably also eat an apple. And because she offered one directly to me and probably, it was all in my head.
It’s October 2. It has rained softly all day long. The streets are coated with a noisy layer of water. Mist hangs damp in the air; it might still be raining, it might be residual. I can’t tell by the swishing sound of passing cars overheard out of the open door of this bar. The trees are muted and wet and green, but also brown and red and orange. The air smells like October, in a way that three days ago distinctly smelled like September.
Today feels like climbing into my dad’s minivan and telling him all about school. Freshman year, junior year. I’d babble about the girls in field hockey and how they took it too seriously, how I forgot my mouth guard and everyone got mad at me. “Of course you forgot it, Chessa,” said the girl with the honeycrisp apple mom, who obviously (obviously!) never forgot anything raised under that level of organization. I’d mock her to my dad, clearing his many things out of the way with my foot, begging to get cappuccinos from Tim Hortons and consequently digging room for my medium English toffee instant cappuccino with whipped cream in his cluttered cup holder.
Today feels like driving home from practice and staring out the window. Getting an idea for a blog outfit photo shoot in my head, inspired by the mist and the muted leaves (even though I should have known better than to think that lighting would have gone well with my post-field hockey, face mask-indented, pale October face). I’d run home and shower in five minutes and hastily throw on some weird outfit that demanded someone take my picture and let me write about it. My dad would postpone cheesy potatoes to take photos of me. I’m not sure it ever happened with those details, but also I’m sure it did. I did, likely, blog about it.
Today feels like hot chocolate and scrolling through pumpkins on Pinterest and walking around my large, rural backyard in the rain. Just walking, probably. Maybe sitting. Maybe jumping on the trampoline, watching water droplets fling into the air and jump too along with me.
I read an interview with Durga Chew-Bose, the author of the essay-prose book “Too Much and Not the Mood” that I’m currently reading that inspired that thought. She said she’s processing her 20s and that’s why her book is largely nostalgic for childhood. Today feels like fall in high school. Fall in college still feels someone half-formed in my mind. I’m not done processing it either. It’s still loading. I can retrieve memories sometimes, but they’ve yet to age to the point where new sounds and smells and places invoke nostalgia for them. Recent history is still too recent. High school, now that I’ve graduated college, is fresh off the presses. I feel that I can look back at it now with enough remove that the wounds have scabbed and I’m left with a knowing smirk on my face at the thought of free honeycrisp apples, forgotten mouth guards and never too many cheesy potatoes.
Now, right now, I sit in Mes Que, my favorite bar on my street, alone and listening to a 2017-2018 playlist of songs I liked that my ex-boyfriend always listened to, put on by the bartender who has no idea that these songs remind me of last year and my ex-boyfriend. I’m drinking an octoberfest beer and reading a book of essays. It’s a book that inspires me to write my own essays down in my notes app every time I read it. I also want to write it all down. I want to keep track of my memories, thoughts, feelings, opinions, philosophies, likes, dislikes, favorites, hatreds. I want it all down, somewhere, somehow.
It makes me wonder, as I text my thoughts down to a make-believe yellow pad inside my iPhone, if this process — texting personal essays — results in a different form of writing than typing them. If what I say is different, somehow. And if typing them changes the words like handwriting them or pounding them carefully and without spelling error on a typewriter. How would it be different if I carved this in a clay tablet? Wrote it on cave walls with symbols? Shorter, sure, and probably less contemplative. Yes I would be much more definitive. Probably.
I spend almost all of my free time in cafes or parks or bars. Even while I’m working, as long as I’m writing or researching, I’m in a cafe. It’s something I love more than most things. Maybe I’ll be able to spend time in cafes forever. But if there’s a time when cafes feel like my early 20s and something else steals all my free time and I jot down memories of listening to Dr. Dog in Mes Que, reading and drinking and looking to all strangers like I’m typing out the longest Google search or text message ever, let me remember this: sitting alone at a bar with a lit candle flickering necessary light onto the pages of my new favorite book (I can already tell). I want to remember my early 20s as this. Time spent thinking and reading and overthinking and underreading. I’ll remember the work. I’ll remember the people. But I want to remember this time with myself.