The stone was still here beside me on the desk, just now as I sat down with my first cup, and I gave it a fleeting fond glance before I tuned in to the world. It’s on a white paper plate, for just as I went out to retrieve it from the hosta bed yesterday, the sun went scurrying behind a great bank of clouds, from which it has not peeked even a ray from then til this. I brought the small bit of concrete into the house, its white flat scrabble-tiles intact and stuck tight, like a raft on an iceberg, and put it beneath the big sunny light of the breakfast table, with all the white surround to reflect and enhance.
The color in yesterday's picture was chosen from about nine offered in a little peacock-flash of color icon on my phone, and I chose it because it was almost the perfect sepia of the pictures of that time---didn’t a lot of us think as we looked at pictures of Grandmas and Aunts and Uncles in their prime, looking out sternly from the black blotter-pages of those wide scrapbooks and heavyweight small albums---didn’t we imagine that the whole world of our forebears must have gone on, day after day, living and dying, commerce and love and cooking and art---in those pale goldy-tan tones?
That's my Mammaw, top right.
When I returned from getting my second cup, I reached out a hand and laid it gently on the cool tiles, still rock-solid these eighty-something years, and felt the unyielding flat IS of it---that
mosaic which has been just THERE for life and death and wars and unrest and times of unspeakable heartache and joy. The flat little unassuming face of the tile, with its two-faces-of-the-coin colors, and that pound of gray concrete poured and laid by long-stilled hands---that’s just something to think about. This piece, had Chris not found it, would have still been there in that hot Delta sun season after season, amongst the other rubble of the site, or brushed and shoveled into a pile of like shards, tumbled back into the earth, with no meaning, no use, no history worth remembering, and nobody to care. Mississippi
Addendum, November 1
I STAND CORRECTED---however formal those words, and antiquated in phrasing, they DO apply. The floor IS still there, in all its black-and-white semi-Harlequin glory. Amidst the desolation of the streets and stores of that small section of town, that flat, dusty mosaic stands memorial to our small part of its history, and I seem to have one of the few broken shards. AHH, if those tiles could talk, they'd speak of our small Buster Browns, our black and white saddle oxfords, our first high heels and scuffed sandals, as well as the tracks of farm boots, high-tops, penny loafers, motorcycle boots,
flats, wedges, and wing-tips, in and out day after day.
I’ve been reading the Outlander series, about a woman in 1945 who was transported back two centuries into warring
, merely by touching one of the historic Circle Stones she was visiting on holiday. And as I held my hand today on that cold flat bit of my own history, I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the doorway---that portal to 1957, with just a whiff of hamburgers frying, a burst of loud laughter from a tableful of hard-working men echoing down that kaleidoscope corridor, and the bright red and white of Miss Florrie’s Caffay, set in a movie of Time and Place and music and colour and the innocence of our teenage selves. Scotland
It would be close in that windowed space, the crowded booths lively and loud, the air redolent of good coffee and burgers frying and the whiffs of Woodhue and spray-net and Miss Florrie’s Toujours Moi. An underlying note of winter-long woolens and barely-aired mothball-stored items, as well as the Vitalis and Aqua Velva aura surrounding the leather-jacketed young men. Scent and colour is as vivid in the the scene as the Rock ‘n’ Roll on the radio and the wasptail pepper-sauce in used
bottles on the tables. Tabasco
Just being in the place for an evening, a quiet supper with the family, the men with their after-work hair slicked down, speaking across the aisles, and the Mamas admiring a new baby two booths down, was a homey thing. My parents ordered The Special, and I the requisite hamburger---disappointed, somehow, that it came naked on a plate, without the crackly little wrapper to release that singular, tongue-curling mustard-pickle-and-onion scent when it was rustled open. There was no rush, no splendor to the evening, just relaxing in a familiar place, plates pushed back and a cup of coffee alongside a slice of Pearlene’s pie, and the world was as right as it was gonna be for a while.
. But I know i wouldn't want to retrace it---not for all the decades between, not for the do-overs or the remarkable Firsts or the wonderful moments, the missed opportunities---nope, wouldn’t return. Not for any disappearing dreams of yesterday, but it’s fun to imagine. Perhaps for a Friday night or two, after a ball game, flushed with victory, and when the energy and the reds and whites and voices were like fireworks under a roof, or a quiet afternoon with girlfriends, our four sets of petticoats subdued beneath the table, as we sipped Cokes and shared secrets. Ginger would lean close and whisper, "There's a baw-eh, and he LIKES you,” and that first little heart-swell of romance would flutter into being.
But there’s no returning, no re-take, no second spin of the wheel. There’s just so much a rock, no matter how embued with nostalgic magic, can do.