Remet and Regret

Flower Girl again. Metamorphosis. Memory.

Come the following Sunday, I decided to stay on for another week at Hotel Julian, having found my time there restful and enjoyable, and while I was in the lobby at the front desk getting squared away, Flower Girl appeared once again. In any metamorphosis, one must decide whether to bring one’s memory along. If she was a goddess, Flower Girl was certainly not Mnemosyne. I don’t know why she pretended not to know me, to have never met me. Maybe I found our evening talks on the veranda of the hostel more engaging. I had recalled them several times since moving out, going over what was said, where we had sat, how the evening suns dropped into the ocean. I recalled her flowers, her yellow hair, her blue eyes, her smooth, sensitive skin, her happy smile that often broke into a sudden laugh, her frown when she seemed depressed or angry with something, her slightly freckled cheeks, the way she squeezed the arms of her overstuffed chair when she was about to exclaim something important, like she was about to experience an epiphany but held it off until she couldn’t hold it anymore. With each retelling in my mind, I strengthened my memory of our time together. She, on the other hand, may never have recalled those evenings, so they easily disappeared. Or maybe she confused, in her memory, her evenings with me with any number of other persons she had spent time with, all conversations blurring into an indistinct person and incoherent discussion. Perhaps she had other reasons for denying we’d ever met and talked and shared time together, alone, on the veranda of the hostel. I mentioned I’d heard her blues singing on the rooftop the other night. She thanked me for listening and said she lately had been showing up there every Thursday. When I asked her if she was also was staying at Hotel Julian she was again evasive and seemed to prefer not to answer, instead saying something obscure about being uncertain what her plans might be moving forward. Maybe she harbored regrets of our conversations, of sharing something too deeply of herself, and now she wished to reclaim that thing and keep it for herself, or to save it for someone else, and so with that new person the experience would be new and fresh and not a rehash of already spent emotion and epiphany. Or maybe she was the kind of person who only remembered bad experiences, a characteristic of the melancholic or depressed person, who relives moments better forgotten over and over again, and can’t seem to shake loose of them, while their happy memories sink to the bottom of a murky sea, and there I was, Prufrock’s “ragged claws,” or, forgetting the metaphor, quiet literally the lonely man leaning out the window of “twenty-nine three.”

“Rement and Regret”
is episode 22 of
Ball Lightning
a Novel in Progress
in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.
(Click link for continuous, one page view of all episodes.)