“I want to see us again, one more time.”
He is talking in his sleep again, the boy, but I know what he’s asking for. We’ve spent part of the evening going through photos because he loves seeing himself, smaller, loves reciting the stories, loves saying remember when, nostalgic, as if he wasn’t still a few days shy of five, but rather someone much older recounting years long gone by.
We always wish to save what we love, make memories in case it someday disappears.
I drive one cold morning on a road that curves up and down for miles. A town limit sign reads 112 and irrigation sprayers are still set up in a field on the right. If I close my eyes, even now I can see the farm cat crossing the road, its fur black and orange. It does not hurry.
A few miles further down is the smallest bank I have ever seen. It has an awning and makes me think of stagecoaches and dust and abandonment. Behind it, nothing but farmland. I am the only sign of life, other than the cat.
Elsewhere, a shed near a house that I want to admire for its sheer defiance of gravity and natural elements because though the house appears fine the shed looks like even the tiniest gust of wind would knock it down. Walls and doors and roofs shouldn’t lean together in such a way; it’s slowly collapsing inward and I imagine that one day when it goes, when that wind comes through, it will simply wink out of existence as though it had never been. And so the shed is yet another thing I wish to record before its disappearance, because someone should remember it, the shed, remember too how quiet the drive on the long stretch of road is, note the place where the tractor stopped partway through, someone should record it, that cat’s way of walking through quiet morning, that tabby’s tail twitching.
Someone should record it, the dry corn fields full of husks not yet cut down, the bright gold of them against the blue sky so far on either side of me I can see nothing else, someone should record it, the tiny bank, the town of people, 112, its population less than my graduating class, record the beer signs strung in bar windows, the leaded glass lacework of the church, someone should record it, all the ways the things that are so simple can still be so lovely. The way that life can still be so lovely. I don’t ever want to forget that.
I don’t ever want to forget that, and so when I stop, I take the photo out, trace that face with my finger, the one I can only touch here.
I just want to see us again.
One more time.