27 June 2014

The Summer of My Discontent, and Blisters

Field notes, June 5th, 2014. Somewhere over the Mid-Atlantic, waiting on a drink.

The smell of hot asphalt in the summer and memories of a kid back there in the haze. I am unsure how to feel about it. Mixed emotions and hydrocarbons are uneasy partners. 

Tarmac bringing me back to the flush of adolescence. Summertime trip, foolishness of youth to think I could run across a quarter-mile of blacktop, barefoot, on pavement that might as well have been a cast-iron griddle hot over the coals. 

I did it. Because I was stupid in the vein of teenage boys, I did it. By the time I returned to the car I had blisters the size of walnuts on the soles of my feet. First day of summer vacation and I was hobbling like a drunk chicken. So much for impressing the bikini girls down by the pier. 

It means more to me now than it did that melted cotton candy summer. On the border between goofy little boy and awkward proto-man, I lacked enough confidence and self-awareness to be saddened by the realization that I was not going to get laid. 

I was fascinated, and still am, by maps. Girls were foreign countries in an atlas on the bookshelf, at that point in my life. Maps to be studied, pored over, committed to memory but never visited. The cartography of my puberty consisting of names, codes, symbols on paper. 

The female of the species. A puzzling, fascinating and undiscovered country. I knew them well, yet knew them not at all.