The hardest part about the past, at least for me, is that you’re in so much of it.
Remember that one Christmas when we were driving through North Dakota, which is mostly empty, and we passed that burned-out husk of an ice cream truck on the shoulder of the road?
You told me to stop the car so that you could take some pictures.
“There isn’t a town in any direction for fifty miles,” you said. “What do you think happened?”
I kept real quiet, because even then I didn’t know how I felt about you.
“Do you think the person inside there died? Do you think it exploded?” you asked.
Even though we still had a long ride ahead of us, we stood around for a while, maybe a half-hour or so.
The landscape was flat and white, with a horizon so far away I couldn’t bring myself to believe in it. Against that backdrop, the truck stood out like a sore thumb. As we drove away and it disappeared behind us, I began to realize that seeing it had really meant something to you.
To me, it was just another piece of junk.
Oliver Lee Bateman is currently an Andrew Mellon Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh. Starting next August, he will begin serving as Assistant Professor of Legal and Constitutional History at the University of Texas at Arlington. He and his good friend Erik Hinton co-curate the Moustache Club of America, an online literary magazine that has published over 220 essays and short stories. He is a columnist for The Good Men Project and The Pitt News, and a regular contributor to Stymie Magazine.