I wish I were as goofy as he is, thought the girl as the boy was rolling down the hill in a tiny village in the Alps, before deciding to roll down with him, crying, laughing, terrified, thrilled, feeling high even though she was falling lower at a furious pace, her clothes in mud, her heart in love.
The girl hasn’t seen the boy in twenty years, and it was his idea, of course. Nothing changed since the time they were high-school friends, although she always had a soft spot for him. Softer than it should have been. Their graduation picture was still glued to a page in one of her softcover diaries, a gentle reminder of strong affection and personal attachment.
As they were rolling down, reckless, careless, all these small yet sharp rocks that her body was bumping against did not bother her at all; her memories were hitting much harder. They can also be like rocks sometimes, our memories, can’t they? Blissfully lying underground, hidden somewhere underneath our feet until we step on them and feel them. Some are not hiding, some are always there, above the ground, but they are the ones we learn to live with. Time doesn’t wash them away, but it makes them smoother until they finally become more like beach pebbles to pick up and play with.
The girl was working at a public library, a place of social memory and collective identity, that was situated by the beach. As an archivist, she had control over which records to appraise, manage, describe and preserve; the majority of them had to be left out, never to be restored. It was her job, her responsibility, and she was in a position of power. Yet in relation to her own memories – her own records – she wanted to keep as many as she possibly could. She was powerless against them.
“Man, that was fun,” the boy screamed, ecstatically, when landing at the bottom of the hill.
Did he remember these times, did he ever think back to when they were still young, listening to country-rock and drinking cheap wine straight out of the bottle, she wondered? Her music taste changed drastically since then but drinking cheap wine straight out of the bottle was still as tempting and exciting. Some things aren’t meant to change, and some aren’t meant to happen.
She later found out that the boy was in love with her then. It was mutual.
She was hoping he wouldn’t ask her to roll down that hill again, although she’d probably agree if he did.
“It’s like we’re back in school again,” the boy screamed with delight. The girl knew, though, that it wasn’t like that, although his brown curls were still as soft, his skin as tanned, his shoes as ripped, and his smile as wide and genuine. His voice as safe.
She knew that he was now happily married, and so was she.
The boy helped her to get up. His hand felt so warm on her shoulder that she didn’t mind it being covered in dirt. It was too late anyway, and the dirt was the last thing on her addled mind.
“You ok?” asked the boy while still trying to catch his breath. The girl wouldn’t reveal her feelings, not now, not then, not ever. She wanted this moment to be a memory that would warm her up from the inside even if it would still tear her apart every once in a while, in another twenty years.
“All good,” the girl said, “just got some rocks in my shoes.”
“Let’s do it again!”