Memories include your acupuncture place. The double storefront in the Western Addition that you found so unassuming you weren’t sure if it was quaint or shady. But on second appointment you knew it was the best thing you’d ever experienced in San Francisco. Just $20 to nap openly with strangers in mismatched reclining chairs. You always picked the corners, the ones that faced up to the violet-leafed tree out front that shook in the wind and filtered the morning light to the rest of the room.
Your memories included the white noise machines, like low fans, playing over the looped recordings of wind chimes and waterfalls. They include how the acupuncturists always asked you, “How long?” and you always said “One hour…give or take” although you were always up before then, needles erect as you lay partially exposed under blue felt blankets.
In your memory the place is more Berkeley than San Francisco, more 1990s than 2000s, but just as gentle. Just as sweet. And for only $20. Can that be right? Just that to take a nap in the middle of the day in the middle of the city and have someone wake you up at an appointed time, see yourself out.
But next to that are the things you remember.
Like seeing Damien Rice in Oakland with her. Taking BART back to 16th and Mission and for some reason waiting with her outside the McDonald’s as her roommate (who you secretly hated) came to take her away. You remember it being a near magical night. The kind of night where you were yourself but didn’t fuck it up for once. You remember it going so quickly, including her being led away–in your memory, different, as if she was being physically pulled away.
And you remember her looking back. A goodbye like an invitation.
And here what you remember becomes your memory. As if they were different. As if it could be any other way. You always knew it would end this way.
So you picture yourself alone and relaxed, reclined and in a room full of strangers. Everyone’s eyes closed. The thin glass barrier between the calm you feel and the world outside. And you look at the clock and see it’s only been 50 minutes. You have time still. There’s still time. And gently, gently you remember the words:
And we can’t take back
What is done, what is past
So fellas, lay down your fears
‘Cause we can’t take back
What is done, what is past
So let us start from here…
It becomes your memory. What you take with you when you’re tapped on the shoulder and the needles are taken out and she says “Did you rest?” and you say “Yes. Thank you.” You slowly put on your shoes before looking around, realizing you won’t be back but won’t forget. Letting yourself out.
With a goodbye like an invitation.