The Jam Files #10 : Just For You
Your homeland stays inside your bloodstream. When you’re away from it for too long your veins begin to burn with longing. You feel poisoned by any air that doesn’t remind you of the best times of your life. Nothing was ever perfect, but your skin doesn’t prickle the moment you wake up in a strange land that doesn’t suit you.
My heart swelled in a good way once the plane touched down in good ole’ Detroit. “Who visits Detroit in the dead of winter?” I hear a fellow traveler wonder this aloud. I do, I mouth to the back of the seat in front of me. I do.
My cousin picks up me & my husband from the airport & asks if we’d like to take a detour through my old neighborhood. It takes some navigating, but I remember where I’m going. Some things are so different. Others are very much the same.
I see the ghost of childhood me skipping down the alley to the party store to get a garlic breadstick. I see myself hitting my first home run with my friends at the park down the street. We played baseball every day during summer vacations. Sometimes I’d get a knock on my door at 8 o’clock in the morning from the boy down the street. He’d be punching his mitt. He looked more anxious than he typically did. “Are you ready to play?” I was in my pajamas, a bird’s nest formed in my hair from the night before, but I told him to give me 15 minutes.
The second we turn down my old street & my old house is in view, it starts snowing. “Oh wow.” I marvel.
“Just a small town girl…
living in a lonely wooooorlllldddd…”
“Journey starts playing on the radio right now…& it’s snowing. Are you freaking kidding me?” When things line up like this I’m in awe for days.
“Just for you,” my husband says from the back seat.
“Just for me.”
We drive past the hospital I was born in. We swing by the Catholic school & parish where I had some of the best memories I’ve ever had in. I’m flooded with images forgotten. I’m feeling good for the first time in years.
Memory is an odd thing. I don’t remember last year. Last month. Last week. I remember 30 years ago like it just happened. It’s all so vivid. I remember my first memory at two years old like it’s my favorite movie. It’s a terrible memory, but I can see it, smell it, even taste the tobacco tinged air when I think of it. I spend the majority of my present pining for the past.
When this short trip ends I imagine chaining myself to a tree outside of our hotel because I don’t want to leave. I’m in love with a place. I’m infatuated with a season. My body has reconnected with my soul here & I’m going to have to leave a piece behind again. I’m not ready to do that. I’m not ready to return to the now.
When the plane touches ground back in Las Vegas the heat needles stab my skin again. This place is all wrong. I’m empty again. I’m sick. Palm trees make me want to cry.
I haven’t slept well since I’ve returned. The desert is a waiting room. It’s hard to breathe again. I look at the upcoming weather forecast & I want to scream.
“You wanna go back up there for the summer?” my husband asks.
I’m nervous about that. We don’t handle separation very well.
“For the good of your health.” He quotes Heavenly Creatures.
It doesn’t take long to make the decision & it takes even less time to find a place to crash for a few months. All will be well soon enough. I hope. I have no idea how I’ll feel on any given day but the twenty degree difference in temperature has to make a difference. It has to.
“Thank you,” I tell my husband.
“Just for you,” he says.
“Just for me.”
Photo : The Dearborn Inn, Jackson Patino