“Hey, honey,” my wife said as we barreled along M53, “There’s a park up ahead. Sandy Pines. We’ve never been there.”
I had. A year before I met her. 52 years ago. But I didn’t want to tell her that. To get into all that.
“Let’s stop for lunch,” she suggested. “The site says there’s a nice little waterfall near the picnic area.”
There is, I recalled. My girlfriend at the time had my mind in a cloud of cotton candy. But yes, there was…is a waterfall, still, I presume.
So, we pulled in. Lunched. Then walked the acorn strewn path to the railing overlooking the waterfall. I felt strange. Like I was cheating, perhaps because I was not sharing my side of the story, the memories running behind my eyes with each step.
Not everything was the same. There was a kind of dock or viewing station, now, weatherproof boards, worn and warped, not plain gravel and dirt underfoot. The railings were shiny from the sunscreen forearms of a thousand visitors, not the bark covered poles from my time. I didn’t realize how much I remembered, how golden that moment had been. How painfully shortened when she dumped me on the way back to town.
So, yeah. The same but different. Changed. New boardwalk around the swampy ground near the falls. Same damp, misty, mucky smell…smells yank you back. More people. Maybe there were a lot of visitors back then. But I guess I just didn’t notice them. And I can’t remember where she lived when I picked her up. And how long we had been dating. But I did remember where I first met her at a friend’s cottage and we played king-of-the-mountain in chest-high water and I could hardly move my neck and shoulders for a week after.
So, okay, a trial run on the way to the real thing. But even at the remove of all these years, is it worth sharing those splashes in the muddle of memories with my wife? Nah. Not so much. Not that she would be jealous, or feel diminished somehow. It would just be irrelevant, too long ago or maybe just too personal. I mean, some memories should stay in the shoe box of photos in the back of the closet right behind the newer one still being filled.