From my notebook, January 2014. When everything was decidedly different.

I don’t know what it is that I need to say specifically about the parking lots, outside of that I’m constantly remembering them. not just parking lots, but the way the roads looked, I’d driven them so many times I could have done it with my eyes closed. day after day. same pathways. slow death from the inside out. the town where my parents lived and the road between the two houses they’d owned at separate times, the one from that summertime fever-dream real-time night and the one where neither of them survived.

that road, and the road that sloped down from the church I walked out of on fever-dream night, past the cemetery to the little corner store, where my best friend and I stole penny candy growing up, and later, where the closest payphone lived, back when you could still put change into a payphone and get to someone. they’re strange now, most payphones, I can’t even figure out how to work them anymore. I used that one to call the guy who was hitting me that I couldn’t drink myself away from because my parents had blocked his number from our home phone.

sometimes I miss the sounds of non-digital phones ringing like a severed limb, like I can almost feel it, like a ghost.

that corner store is a doctor’s office now. in the parking lot behind it once, I sat on the phone with sharon while she cried and told me how she couldn’t get off the morphine drip after her surgery and was terrified about what it meant for her recovery. she and freddy had a baby and both got strung out on heroin. I don’t know how they’re doing now. friends tell me they pop up at meetings from time to time but have never made it back for good. I wonder how her daughter will turn out.

I can’t find her, sharon I mean, and I can’t find the poem I wrote her with the xerox copy of a mailbox on one side and my fervent writing on the other.

the strip malls and the big-box store where I sat waiting for a bigger television to get delivered and wonder what the fuck I was doing with my life, not being able to figure it out but knowing the television wouldn’t change anything. the parking lot outside that terrible restaurant I’d go to with those old people from one of my meetings on weekend nights, nights where I got home at ten o’clock, twenty-four years old and quite sure I was going to die from loneliness, having no idea that these people were literally saving my life. the diner in the neighboring town where I’d scan the cars before I parked to see who was already there, to see if I needed to put lip gloss on before I went in or not.

the parking lot outside the package store where I worked and stole everything I could fit in my bag on thursday nights, when the assistant manager worked who hated the owners and knew we were underpaid. how I remember being in my mother’s car one afternoon there like it was yesterday, and how I can’t parse out if the time we were talking about the box of matches was a dream or not, and how I’ll literally never know. the very real time outside of the drugstore when I saw the uncle who is married to the aunt who no longer talks to me, and how he looked straight through me, and how that part feels like a dream too but it’s probably a waking nightmare if I really get honest about it.

there’s more, the highways and byways of it all, the small town where everyone told me I was wrong that I finally left behind, even with the beautiful beaches and know-you-forever kinds of hugs. the remembering of it all, the parking lots I mean, has been plaguing me for the better part of a year. and now that I’ve purged it out I don’t even know what’s changed, other than once this gets edited and birthed that there will be room for new thought to flow in.

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