Monday, August 23, 2004

A roll of black and white 1994

I've been in Ann Arbor, Michigan this weekend, without the family, visiting a friend from high school before heading down to Toledo for a meeting.

Michigan has always been imbued with a cetain otherworldliness for me. The first time I visited the state was in the fall ten years ago, on an ill-advised week-long trip with a recent ex. We drove all over the state, long stretches in the car with just the two of us, feeling the kind of constant, throbbing pain-pleasure of holding a sharp blade just against your skin, hard enough to feel the sharpness but not quite pushing hard enough to cut the skin. It was deep fall, the leaves were brilliant on fire, and the trip was captured in the desolate tones of a roll of black and white film. We drove up to the very northern point of mainland Michigan, actually drove over the bridge to the U.P. and back, and wandered around the deserted lakeside tourist town at the point, cold winds blowing off the lake as we peered into the salt-taffee stores boarded up for the winter. The physical memories of that trip are clearer for me than most of my memories of ten years ago, perhaps they were inscribed somehow in the emotional wounds I was holding open all week, sealed up inside my psyche in a way that other memories were not.

This trip of course has not been anything like that, just a relaxing catching-up with an old friend. I suspect, however, that my ability to keep my life now on an even emotional keel is due in part to the lessons of the relationships of my early 20s, and I still occasionally look through black and white pictures from the fall of 1994 and give thanks for our ability to heal our wounds.

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