The Park (For Ricky) [ficlet]

The one place that holds a special significance for me is nothing so lofty as the top of the Eiffel Tower, nor as astounding as the Grand Canyon. It is quite simple, really, just a park in the middle of a residential area in Miami, in between houses, Starbucks, and an office building. There is a lake directly across from it, and many green- and brown-feathered ducks make their home nearby. Every afternoon, you can see people walking their dogs, energetically power-walking, or lazily pushing their kids on the swings. It’s just a simple park with a large green field and a swing-set.

And what happened to me there was simple, too, something that happens every day, so ordinary that we almost forget its true extraordinary power—that it is universal.

What happened? Oh, it was nothing. But it was everything, too—I fell in love.

He was someone who seemed to exist only in my yearbooks. Just another stow-away in my teenage memories.

One night in college, we decided to visit this park. I remember it was cold that night, but my goose-flesh was due not to the weather but to my nerves. I sensed that something was about to happen, in the way that our bodies sometimes know us better than our minds do. I remember, too, the silence of that night, the only sound our hushed voices. Our breaths rose up like smoke, veiling the star-patterned velvet of the sky.

Both of us sat in the swing-set, sharing a bottle of Merlot, sharing stories. The taste of wine in my mouth, both bitter and sweet. The taste of his kiss earthy, elemental. The incredulity of that moment filling my head – impossible, that this boy who had never meant much to me before could suddenly mean everything.

There is so much I forget about that night, so much I wish I could remember. But forgetting is inevitable, and love helps fill in the gaps that exist in our memories.

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