Excerpts from Yesterday, the Tea Was Stronger
by Kyle Singh
I never really understood what it meant to walk around my town until I left it.
My shoes seemed to grip the ground more when I came back than they had ever before. Hometown alignment. The road bent at the right angle and sided with the chance for someone to get to where they were going. Desolate rows of houses sat comatose. Lawns gazed at passersby, helped define the people that lived there. Deep senses of satisfaction overtook me when I picked unknown berries off of park side trees. Indigo stains smudged fingertips and my introduction back home was complete. Elementary playground for desperate teens. K-5 in the morning, 13-18 at night. U-shaped rubber tied to rusted links of chains heading up to metal poles. Designed to ignite the smiles lost for no reason except when we had to walk back home again. Driving was something everyone did because things were too far to walk to. Fall entangled itself in peoples’ hair. The pavement was cracked and paw prints were everlasting. You could hear music blaring on their headphones as they walked by. It was nice to see mouths moving with no sound escaping them. Somehow you could imagine what people were saying and use it to your advantage. Hometown alignment. The striped, upholstered lawn chair featured the dirt from outside forces; to have these forces cling to the back of my jeans; to be outside again looking at the shadow when the sun hits the sewage drain at the right angle; to spot the overhanging arches of cable lines lined up with raindrops; to breathe through summer hazes; to graze upon cupcakes from scratch with vanilla frosting in the spring dew; to spot old timers walking old dogs. Hometown alignment. My vision became focused when I squinted into space. The dead space. It didn’t take too long to stop. My eyes hurt; my brain did, too. I had not yet mastered the art of stillness. Color washed cycles, bleeding color, imaged together, swirling water, puddles on puddles, all in one. I had leaned back into the chair, allowing it to take my figure. My bent spine sank in as if it had felt straight. I thought for a second that it didn’t ache, but then again I was only 17. It wasn’t supposed to. Why was it that all of a sudden I could sit for so long? Why was it that it made sense to think about these things? It hadn’t made sense to me up until then. You spend your whole world imagining that moment. You spend all of your time, violent times, quick times, engulfed in the idea of actions. The actions of leaving home. The actions of saying hello to new faces. The action of taking note of new things. This made life in that summer before I had made the move to Washington, D.C. exciting. It was supposed to be that thing that got me out of a loop. Instead, I found myself back after my first month sitting on the same lawn chair. This was not the way things were supposed to be. I wasn’t supposed to be thinking about the past. I was only 17 going on 18. The past was not supposed to exist. I was living in the future. That’s what being young is supposed to be about. Hometown alignment. I sank into the lawn chair. Somehow it seemed unfair that it was customary to move out at 18. Maybe that was just the American way, I told myself. But what was the point of moving so fast? What was the reverence that I felt with a comfy back. I might have been sedated, ready to take a nap. It might have been the way the lawn chair triggered sleep as my back sank in. But it made sense to feel this way, I told myself. It made sense to want to remember. To sit back and look out. But I decided I needed to get back up again. But at this point the lawn chair became a lawn bed. I was lounging in my space. The space staged a sedation; although I do not know to this day what that was. A dream sedative. Washed pixels. Colors and pictures, ragged movements, intimate whispers. I think it meant I was seeing things other people were not. The sedative was doing its job, whatever it was. But, it was time for dinner. I abandoned the supernatural; opened the screen door; took off my Asics tennis sneakers; and proceeded to the red kitchen chairs. The lazy susan spilt some food, but a Lab named Hoover cleaned it up. Everything was in order. Everything made sense. It was okay to make mistakes again.
I have enjoyed these memories many times before but sometimes I wasn’t awake to live the moments which made them. When I’m home, small annoyances carry happiness. Temporarily, they make me smile. The expiration of time involves my happiness attached to it. Memories fade out. Tap out. Tap in again. You expect them to speak out and become friends with you. You expect them to come to life again and remind you of the things that you see sitting on the striped bulky lawn chair. When we have the chance to bring them back to life we try to. I have that chance to make up for all the times I was asleep. Somehow I know I do not want to fall back into the cycle; of a failed revival of memories. I knew that happiness could not be fleeting forever; But I expected those days to last forever; I expected my life to sing that song till the day I died. But at least I have the chance to bring them back again. It feels good knowing the sounds of a place again. People age, and so do places, I understand this now. In certain ways you see the way it looks now, and it looks exactly the same. But fabrics wear, and old cars that have never been driven are still old. Sleep dwindles and time passes. Time doesn’t give up. Sometimes I feel it passing but other times I do not. It takes me time to see it moving. Barely moving, but it passes.
And trends pass, movement happens, people change. People move on to what they need to move on to. A new town, a new job, new things make people laugh. People are born over and over, many more than just one time. But I see people as I know them. I see them in that span of moments before it had to end. People are sweet in those moments. When we change we try to stay the same. And we understand soon enough that it’s the natural way our world is organized. Organization is something I struggle with. It hurts my head. The files keep opening again. The world splits, I guess. But it’s good now. I get to open up the files again. Even though they won’t be quite the same. Time passes. People change. The images understood what I was trying to say. They told me it would be just fine. They told me to open the files back up again. They told me to do it, so many people don’t take the time to stop. But, time passes; but, I can stop it and fast forward when I feel comfortable again. When I feel whole again. Moments spill, and it was time to get back into the lawn chair again.
On certain days, on days in which there isn’t a single cloud in the sky, when we look up, the sky exudes a certain blueness. A blueness which is unreal. A blueness which makes it seem like the sky was painted. A color so intense that I always close my eyes and open them again, only to put this color more in focus. I couldn’t believe that I had never taken note of this before. I found myself blinking obsessively trying to make the color clearer, more alive. When we look at things that are perfectly designed, our own defects don’t allow us to fully grasp what we are seeing. It was a shame I hadn’t taken note of it in my earlier years. That’s probably why the weather always happened to be like this when I decided to walk the dog. That’s probably why the weather alway happened to be like this when we decided to play at the park. That’s probably why the weather always happened to be like this during any event of importance to me at the time. Clouds seemed to clear up. The unreal became real. “How could the sky be so damn blue?”