I’m really in my office. Thirty-four floors above the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver, Colorado. I feel as if I am in a Polaroid from the 70’s. The blues faded, the reds indistinct, and the blacks turned a sickly green. The “Welcome Back Kotter” t-shirt I’m wearing is an iron-on and the collar isn’t the same color as the shirt. I have on that first round of Nikes: blue with a yellow trademark. For some reason I am on a wall. I’m twelve, but the look on my face is veteran. I’ve been effected by what I’m seeing, but I don’t care.
There is no such photograph.
In the memory that follows I don’t wear those clothes but pretend I do because they are the only ones I can recall from that era.
[a whole buncha stuff here]
From that summer there is a single recording of me. Its corners rounded in the style of the day; it’s format clearly 110. I’m on the back of a motorcycle, t-shirt, shorts, flip-flops, and a helmet–“Gotta protect your head.”
My boredom drove me to the most dangerous spot I could find. The made-to-look-like-adobe cinder block wall I am sitting atop is too tall to have climbed directly. At first I’d expected my Uncle to return quickly so I just sat on the tailgate and swung my legs. Later I decided he’d be longer. I hopped from the bed of the pick-up to the wall and walked it like a tightrope to the end. Sword-leafed yuccas and some taller but equally daunting plants lined the outside of the wall. If I missed them when I fell, I’d still get a mouthful of sand and a couple of scrapes from something. You can’t fall here in the High Desert and not get at least that.
Probably the adult look on my face comes from staring out at the desert wondering how these people determine which parts are good for putting a house on and which parts aren’t or discerning where the highway we rode in on disappears into the hills and where it goes after that. Puzzles a kid won’t solve quickly. I’m sure my thoughts devolved to something that happened the Saturday before. I awoke early to find my Aunt and Uncle up already–him still up from the night before? His animated conversation and smokey clothes didn’t distract me from the bag of doughnuts nor the pile of unorganized cash on the kitchen counter. He pulled more out of his front pockets while I stood there and added it to the wad of treasure. It was just ones and few quarters.
Here on the wall Tuesday drifts to a close. Maybe Wednesday drifts–in Summer, who knows.
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