THE NEXT LIFE
The sunrise is foggy these mornings, like my head much of the time. Black coffee from your wife in the dark hour of 6AM has managed to sharpen my senses enough to bring me home safely from the airport. You should be boarding soon and I am already back in my warm bed, but not to sleep. Instead I am watching neighborhood cats through my window and trying to remember how I got here.
This bed has been with me since just before my move to Florida; at least that much can be traced back to my former home. I see a jacket and my guitar across the room, and a sleeping bag intended for weather never to be seen in this region. These things, too, are relics of the past life. Atop the armoire sit a few archaisms as old as even my childhood, and one final vestige of time gone by can be seen through the cracked door of the closet: an old pair of sneakers that I still wear.
All else that fills this place is new, at least to me. These scant objects comprising nearly my entire amassment have all been ushered into view within the last 4 years, washing away any need to recall what came before. Even the relationships that fill my interpersonal life are all unseasoned, save a few that I’ve somehow maintained from across the wall separating this time and space from that one. Some piece of my former self remains within those people, and I intend to retrieve it.
Sometimes it seems as though a piece of her lives in you, as well. I think better of it, though, and realize that you are really just a mirror to the past who has intercepted the unreflective travels of my so-called growth. In youth I always hoped that age would not sentence me to forget myself as it seemed to have done to my father. It turned out not to be age that would trap my identity within a labyrinth of regret and confusion, but heartache. The pain has since subsided and yet my seity did not return. I’ve caught a glimpse of it in your eyes and in your words and I find myself wanting even to accuse you of utter theft.
Rationally I am grateful for you, for you seem somehow to see the old bits of me that I’ve retained and hidden beneath a bland exterior. To know that you are a wholly temporary installment in my life is a fascinating testament to the way in which we all seem to come and go just as is needed by those around us. I wonder what more I may learn from you in the little time that is left, and what you may learn from me. I hope I am able to reabsorb all the scraps of me that you carry before you cross the seas for the next life.
– Dominique R. Scalia