Monday, May 20, 2013

My Skin Remembers

It's one of those nights when I had to ride with the car window down.  The breeze was just right, and it made me want to go for a run in my dark neighborhood with the many registered sex offenders and crumbling sidewalks.  

Of course I didn't.  I'd be scared to go alone at night.  I'm not so sure about doing it in the daytime either. 

My car A/C works just fine, but the air temperature brings back a memory of a hot summer night when I was about five.  Planet of the Apes was coming on TV and Dad took us to the nearby Sonic to get milkshakes before it began.  It must have been a Sunday night, because big movies only came on network TV on Sundays.  The wind through the car windows was exactly the same as tonight -- a soft warm caress like the breath of a beloved someone lulling you to sleep.  

Sometimes there's just no substitute for rolling down the windows and letting the wind stream through your hair, tangling it into impossible snarled knots. It's a feeling best experienced at night, when the world is quiet and a whisper of summertime freedom tickles your skin. 

It amazes me how the skin retains its own memories of past experiences.  A bath or shower bordering on being too hot, but biting and stinging just a bit takes me to a chilly October night when I was four.  It may have even been Halloween and we had just returned from trick-or-treating.  I was in the tub with my sister, in water that was almost too scalding hot but was all right after a few minutes in.  It was one of those times I got out afterward with chubby red feet, but I wasn't cold anymore.  

We were staying with my grandmother in her tiny little house at the time.  I remember that it was night because of the way the fluorescent vanity mirror lights illuminated the bathroom with that harsh artificial glow, rather than daylight filtering in from the high window over the tub.

Hot showers and baths take me right back to that chilly autumn evening and my skin tells me to grit my teeth and accept the almost stinging heat of the water.  It bites with sharp little teeth, but I can take it.

Or at least turn up the cold water.  :)

I suppose my friend was right when he pointed out that pain causes the most intense memories.  I don't think I'll ever forget having my lower back punctured by a broken bicycle spoke, nor the way it rendered me speechless and breathless.  I don't remember how bad it was, because I seem to have blocked it out.   However, I have a deep scar there by my tailbone.  Maybe I've had it since birth. Anyway, I suppose I'm just lucky that I didn't stab my spine that day.  Still, my body remembers how badly that hurt.

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