Therapy in Winter
Sometimes in our lives we find ourselves falling deep within memory. Like during a Christmas snow. This act of remembrance becomes a necessity.
I needed to remember so I could start a list of all the moments that changed me. Days when I found myself lost within vivid portions of time. I think of all these moments that have burned in my memory and begin to question them. A therapy of sorts so I can move on to another chapter and I need to ask you to help me through the details. Breaking down walls and building up new ones takes a team of engineers.
During the winter of 2003 I met Erika. The last three or four winters had brought a few days of heavy snow and freezing temperature, but 2003 was different. The snow fell and did not stop for at least two weeks. Then the temperature fell below freezing for weeks on end. Snow banks two stories high froze in place in a dream of thawing. The ice on the roads seemed to reach two inches thick with delicately carved ruts leading in all directions.
Ala Moana Apartments was located in a cult-de-sac where hidden pine reached over small decks. Each room already stained by smoke carried complex odors of years of living. There was a supermarket next door and Virginia Lake, a small city lake down the street.
When I was in the military I witnessed the closing of all M.A.S.H units in South Korea and was able to meet some actors from the old television show.
A few years after witnessing these closures I moved to Reno to live closer to my parents. I felt a desire to find something local to become involved in, like the Reno Symphonic Choir the year prior. This time I chose the theatre. The local community college was having auditions for M.A.S.H., a play based loosely on the show. I auditioned to get out of the apartment and meet new people. I did not know that I had met my wife during these performances.
Some time had passed since the last curtain call. Today was February, Valentine’s Day. The snow had stayed frozen and the ice remained rutted. I pulled on my boots and decided that I should leave my apartment and get some food and fresh air. I was motivated by the same will that pushed me into the community every once and awhile.
The day was bright with the sun’s reflection off the snow and I feared for balance with every step. Luckily I only had to cross the street where passed an old snow drift that had turned a dark grey. I had fallen back into the work grind and I needed to break the inner sactum of my apartment complex.
My horoscope that day said I would meet my love. Most of me laughed at the irony of Valetine’s Day marketing but some part must have remained optimistic. It was with this optimism that I carefully stepped over each rut in the road and ice skated through the Scolari’s parking lot to the front door.
I recognized the deli girl at the supermarket across the street. She stood on the other side of the deli counter in her Deli Uniform that was light blue. I remember the blue was the color of her eyes. She had dirty blonde hair short combed straight. She had incredible freckles that moved when she smiled. She looked over at me and said.
“It’s Jamie isn’t it. I remember you from M.A.S.H.”
“You know they throw away this food after a certain time. This place wastes an incredible amount of food. Instead of a sandwich you should let me package up all this fried chicken for free. You like this gross stuff right?”
“What?” I replied waking up from my daydreams and the sudden onslaught of multiple M.A.S.H. memories.
“Do you like chicken? It looks gross to me I am a vegetarian.”
“That sounds great! Thank you.”
She began to package up all the chicken into a bag and wrapped up a pre-made sandwich.
“Here take this food and go. Get quick.” She handed the packages over the counter and I started to walk quickly through the back isle that specialized in Dairy Products. But I stopped. I thought back to my horoscope. Today is a day to be impulsive. I turned around and almost ran back to the deli counter.
“Can I leave my number? Or may I have yours?” I let go and spoke.
“Of course.” She said as her smile widened her freckles.
“Here I have a pen and paper in my pocket.”
I made sure to place the number safely. It was Erika, we had exchanged numbers.
After the first phone call and after a few primary dates we started to hang out together all the time. I loved being around her and could not think of any better way to spend my time. We painted objects, listened to music, made love, talked about our lives endlessly.
We moved in together in an area of Reno called Wells Street. This was the older part of Reno a short walk from downtown and we both liked the access to the city and the old neighborhood. We would sit on our roof and stare out over the city streets.
I hope that the kids are out riding on their new scooters today.
Things would change. We found out that Erika was pregnant with Sam. We began the road of first parents and moved from the city to a cheaper apartment across town. This was when Sam was only a baby and I would take him on long walks into the hills across from our apartment.
Times were hard and we struggled with the role of being parents, which is really a foreign concept when one has not had children before. We both decided to move into an old home back in the downtown area of Reno. We were used to the downtown area and felt at home there and we also felt more connected to the City.
The house was on Wheeler Street, in the Wells Area, only a few blocks away from the home we had lived in before. These were good times, walking Sam into downtown Reno to feed the ducks or play on the playground. Sometimes we would go to the Downtown Truckee River access to go swimming in the summer.
We had a small yard and two dogs, Riley and Burns. This was the beginning of the great recession and soon we found the home being sold from underneath us and we had to move. After a slight search we found a beautiful ranch house located in Pleasant Valley on Carriage Street.
This home was a good twenty minutes outside of the city in the country, so to speak. It was the time of a new era, new hopes, new desires, and new additions.
After the move out to Pleasant Valley, to the Carriage Drive home, we were determined to stay. The house sat upon an acre of land that was filled with mature Apple Trees and a beautiful lawn, that proved to be difficult to mow.
We had the benefit of the quiet countryside. For the first time in our lives we felt comfortable, truly comfortable. Or at least I was comfortable. I became acclimated to the habits of married life. Too acclimated and lost the emotional bond necessary to hold our relationship together.
We had our ups and downs. Yet a schism had started from a crack. I did not know how to fix it. I could not find the proper way to seal an unwanted valley.
Not enough can be said about living in a comfortable living area. We learned how to keep warm in the cold and cool in the Summer. Sam was growing up fast and happy with his new yard to run around. After a year or so the conversation of having a second child arose.
Our stay at Carriage Drive began to fill with the desire for a second child and we worked towards this goal of goals. Then Hannah was born and shared a room with her brother. Hannah was to have her first birthday at Carriage Drive and Sam started preschool at Pleasant Valley Elementary School. Everything seemed in order.
I cannot be a weekend parent. I need to be there every day.
Then we began to realize that we could no longer afford to raise our family and continue to pay the rent. Our landlord was kind enough to lower the rent as far as was feasible, but we could no longer afford the rent, bills, and groceries, without going into debt. This reality hit us like a ton of bricks. We did not want to give up such comfort and the memories that we had acquired were deep and meaningful. I think Erika was very upset. More upset then I realized at the time. By then our communication began to lengthen the chasm between us.
This is time I wish I could relive. I wish I could see the right words to say before all words seemed swept away.
I need to play with the kids one more time before the deep freeze of winter slows down time.