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The warm sunny weather the past few days reminds me of summertime. It makes me think of summers at home, during my early college years.

Riding my bike to get away from my family.  The smell of the dry air, the orchards, vineyards, pastures full of cows and horses.  A narrow country road, that many years ago had been the old highway, the primary route through the lower Yakima Valley.

I examine everything.  The farmhouses I pass.  The hop vineyard.  A stray rock in the middle of the road: how did it get there?  The home of my high school girlfriend:  is she there?  Does she think about me?  What is her life like, now?

The sky is so blue.  And the sun is hot.  But I don't feel hot.  I am reinvigorated on the empty road, surrounded only by hints of other humans.

I have a destination in mind.  Punkin Center, the old store in the middle of nowhere.  I remember stopping there as a very young child with my grandparents as they bought gas and an ice cream for me. Long closed, it is a ghost of a building now.  Big cement bricks holding dusty counters and old memories.  When I get there, I try to look through the painted glass, and make out shapes, but not much else.

The old pay phone on the side of the building-- it's still there.  No reason for a phone here, not anymore.   It is still here, though.  And it still works.  And sometimes, it works in ways it shouldn't.

With trembling hands I type in the number: 1-900-LOVE-MEN.  This shouldn't work... but it does.  I pay nothing, but I access a voicemail and chat system to men.  Other men like me, though I never talk to them.  I listen to their messages.  Some are creepy, some exciting but intimidating, others sound exactly like me.  They express their fantasies, their longing for companionship, their need to reach out and literally touch someone.  I am alleviated, though frustrated by the experience.

On a whim, I click over to a live chat.  I hear a pleasant voice clear his throat.  He waits, and then tentatively says, "Hello?"

I hang up immediately.  Still scared and unsure of myself, I hop on my bike and see nothing all the way home.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 20th, 2016 08:49 pm (UTC)
this is lovely. and sad. and amazing.
Apr. 20th, 2016 11:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It was running through my head all morning.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )