By: Sierra Rozen
The sun was always golden in those days. The days that seemed infinite, like they were on a never ending loop. The wind was constantly blowing, a relief from the scorching heat of the day. We would ride in the car, the top pulled down, wind in our hair. We zipped around sharp corners, forever reckless, with not a care in the world. Our friends in the back would be laughing, a sound that was gloriously uplifting. A flask might be shared between everyone, just a little something that made you feel like you were on top of the world. The music was blaring, piercing our ears with its carefree lyrics. We sang along without a care for pitch or lyrics. As the night would start to fall, we would find ourselves parked outside of an old motel with half of the letters missing from its sign. We would sit in the car, drinking blood red slushies from 7/11 cups. Again, the flask might be passed around to add a spark to the evening. Cigarette smoke would start blowing and I found the smell to be intoxicating. I would breathe it in from all around me, perhaps stealing one from the man I called friend, confidant, lover. Dancing away with my treasure, he would throw his head back and laugh, run his hands through his long dark locks. I loved to do that as well, would constantly do it. He never seemed to tire of it. When it was becoming too late, the four of us might pool together our meager amount of money and rent a room for the night. This did not mean that we retired for the night. We might jump on the creaking mattresses that felt as thin as paper. When we got tired, we would collapse wherever we found ourselves. I might have rolled closer to my friend and press my lips to his and lose myself in his touch. When morning inevitably came, we would start the cycle over again, repeating until the sun was no longer gold.
In the fall, the days were auburn and orange and russet and cinnamon. It was time to buckle down for a little bit. The golden days were slightly behind us but we could still see them if we squinted our eyes tightly enough. Me and my lover, we found a small apartment that most people would turn their noses up at, but we were proud to have something to call our own. We plastered the walls with his photographs, with my writings. Everything was mismatched but he claimed that it described us, that only we could pull it off. We were both freelancing in those days, perhaps not the best way to make a living but we told ourselves that at least we were happy. If we had nothing else, at least we were happy. Our bedroom became like that little motel room, except now we were two instead of four. The mattress was still thin, and he still made me feel like we were in our own little world. We felt like we could conquer the world. Sure, there was little food in the fridge, and sometimes our rent would be late, but we had each other. On the good days, he would bring home a bottle of wine. We might pop it open and drink straight from the mouth of it. I would dance around the room in his shirt to whatever song was coming out of the shitty radio that had terrible reception. We would fall on the bed laughing, thinking we were invincible. On the bad days, he might slam the door as he came in. I would pick at the meager dinner that we had for the night. He might feign tiredness and head straight to that mattress. We would lay in silence, pretending to sleep. Thankfully, in the autumn, the good days outnumbered the bad.
The winter was unforgiving. It had bitter edge to it, like someone had pissed it off and it had decided to take its wrath out on us. The leaves were dead and our beloved sun barely made an appearance. No matter how high I cranked the heat, there was always a chill in the air. Layers of clothing and thick socks did nothing to warm us, not when we could feel the ice that was slowly wrapping itself around our hearts. The door slammed more often, the silence was deafening. His nights were later, the food was less, and bad days were countless. I remember the smell of perfume, one that did not belong to me, the one that I pushed to the back of my mind. I remember the strangers that I would meet, whose eyes I would meet. My eyelashes would bat themselves silly and soft words were exchanged. It made me feel guilty. Perhaps that’s why it never amounted to anything. I told myself that if we survived the winter, those golden days would be here soon enough. The coldest day of the year chilled my bones, especially because he never fell onto that thin mattress. I waited up, till midnight, till the next day, the next week, the rest of the month, even after I got the single message from him. I wrapped myself in his sweater and prayed the winter would end.
Spring painted the world in pastel greens, lavender, soft yellows, and sky blues. I inhaled the scent of the fresh grass and just cut flowers and reminded myself to breathe. His photographs were gone, replaced with more of my writing. I bring home flowers to make the apartment brighter. The once thin mattress is piled high with blankets that bring me comfort. My dinners are no longer meager. I can take seconds now. My healing was long and hard. The promise of golden days kept me going. I could pass myself in the mirror and smile back at my reflection. I even made plans to road trip again, to be able to feel the wind in hair. My golden days were coming, and this time around, I would make it my golden era.