December Memory

15 minute prompt – Write about a December memory.

Shopping for Christmas gift with my old friends.

I remember fondly the escalator. As I stepped on, it seemed as if the world began to open up above me, and I found myself clenching my jaw to seem stern and tough. Why is that? Because next to me was megan, the girl you would fall in love with as a preteen boy, but realize that is the only time you can.

We were going to grab gifts for a gift exchange she planned for a group of our friends. I say our friends but they were more like the people she invited and the people I knew the names of. She had begun to grow up into that age where she leaves some friends behind to make other friends to secure her social standing. I suppose I should be grateful she chose to include me in the midst of such esteemed company.

Anyway, so here I am, on this escalator, and what catches my attention is the sameness of it all. Everywhere I look, there are baubles and gadgets and trinkets to explore and, if one mustered up the courage, to move towards those vendors and risk their soliciting. It all feels the same. It felt like a satin sheet was draped over my eyes and I was feeling what I was supposed to feel. What everyone was supposed to feel.

I noticed it. Through some mis-stitched track of the fabric, I noticed it. The difference and the disdain. I hated being here. I hated standing next to her while feeling what I was feeling. It wasn’t real, and it all felt fake, just like the friendship.

I wish I tore back the veil. Instead, up I went, on that escalator, clenching my jaw, hoping that it would all be over soon. I hate shopping. I hate Christmas. All the materialism, and all the anti-materialists talking about all the materialism. I hate it. So what does that make me?

One day this will all fall apart. I won’t walk next to her, I won’t need to clench my jaw, and I won’t need to stand in this suffocating scene. Maybe I could finally breathe, but it wouldn’t be a sigh of relief; no, it would be a sigh that signifies suffering, of being so alone in my disdain, and a sigh that betrays understanding, as everybody knows, but nobody really knows.

I reach the top of the escalator, and glance at her. She’s swinging the bag in her hand, carrying some product that would elicit reactions. Is that the goal then? To grab gifts that elicit reactions? Is that the time of my youth, and is that what had to be fun?

It saddens me to remember this. Even now it feels forced, the melancholy, the nostalgia, or, as Lewis put it, it feels as if I’m trying to rip open that inconsolable secret. It terrifies me. Because think about it: if I could spend 15 minutes and find at least this much, what else is there that might eat me alive?