It takes about 6 1/2 hours to drive from Houston to Arkadelphia. That’s a lot of thinking time, and that’s what I do whenever I make that drive. Think and sing along to my 90’s R & B playlist made especially for the occasion. (Ooo yeah)
Arkadelphia (no relation to Philadelphia) is a small town in southwest Arkansas. Population 11,000. There are two universities there, literally accross the street from each other, planted in perpetual face-off. State school against private Southern Baptist institution.
It was in Arkadelphia that I lived out my formative dating years, in spite of the fact that I am related to at least a 25% of its residents. No, I never dated a cousin. In fact, most introductions began with “are you related to any Knox’s, Bullock’s, Jones’, Newborn’s or Hunter’s? Are you sure?” You see, in Arkadelphia, there are only about 3 degrees of separation. Any person I see driving along Pine Street or pumping gas at the Tiger Mart or watching their children play at the Arkadelphia Aquatic Center is either a relative, or lives next to, works with, dates or has dated, hates or is related to someone who knows someone who knows me.
This makes it home.
Every time I go there, I imagine myself running into a former love interest.
I walk into Walmart and, lo and behold, there he is, standing in the express checkout lane, fat and ratchet wife in tow, surrounded by a half-dozen raggedy kids.
He sees me. Radiant and confident after all these years of big city living, my figure unphased by having carried a beautiful, talented daughter who is not his. His eyes are full of regret, and I glide past, vindicated at last.
Of course, this never happens.
I don’t see anyone I dated or had a crush on. No matter how many times I go to Walmart. But it feels good to think it could happen.
(return Walter-Mitty-style hallucination)
Yes. We’re in Walmart. No…Tiger Mart.
No. It has to be Walmart. Bigger crowd.
We’re at the “eyes filled with regret” part. He falls to his knees, rends his shirt from his chest, piles ashes upon his head, throws his hands up to God and cries out.
“Faith! Please forgive me. Please. You are so amazing. I was so blind and stupid.(pounding fists against the sides of his head) Stupid. Stupid. STUPID! Ahhhhhh!”
Then, overcome with regret, he impodes*.
This, I think, would bring closure.
But, the thing is, I realize, that I don’t need him to implode for me to have closure. I mean, it would be nice, but unnecessary.
With the same power I have to conjure up the Walmart scene, I can call up the memories that haunt. I can return to the door that I left ajar, ghosts slipping in and out at will. I can close it.
So I do.
Because you don’t need anybody to give you closure. You close it. It’s your move.
But imagine the imploding thing first. It’s fun.
* I realize that the gif is an “exploding” man, but I couldn’t find an imploding one. You get the idea though.