The Summer Before

It all came flooding back the other day, when I was spending a lunch on a cobblestone street in downtown Albany, practicing selfies for my new Instagram account. The man rounded the corner and caught me off-guard. I pretended to be doing something else with my phone, though with arm extended and stupid smile on my face I’m sure he figured out what was going on. He smiled and said hello. At first it didn’t register. Was he someone from work? Was he a bartender from a place I patronized? Or, worse, was he someone I slept with in my early twenties? In a bathroom no less? Suddenly I remembered. A cool courtroom. A few blocks away. At this time last year.

He was the prosecutor for the murder trial on which I served as a juror. And then the floodgates opened up to a host of memories – pleasant and unpleasant that comprised the days before, after, and during that trial. A Gay Pride weekend in Boston with my friend Kiera right before I reported for duty. A hawk screaming wildly in my backyard. A vodka stinger, straight up and torturously strong.

In that week or so, I lived another life, cut off from communicating with friends and family, listening to lawyers and witnesses and doctors, and trying vainly to make sense of how one person could kill another person, whether by accident or intent. It took a few months to do much of the processing it took to get over it, and I had to come to terms with the fact that it may not be something you ever really get over. There are things that may haunt us forever, stains that are impossible to eradicate. This may be one of those things, resurfacing with a vaguely familiar face, a certain time of year, a specific location. It never goes away, does it? Even at the start of summer.

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