We tell lies to tell truth. Let me first tell you the truth. The greatest year of anyone’s life arrives at age 19. I anticipated 19 throughout high school then treasured it many years after. I wrote poetry, loved heedlessly, lived shamelessly. At 19, one thrusts themselves into the world with pith and lightning, with newfound freedom to explore and grasp the world, yet unladen by the shackles of adulthood.
At 19, I began to grasp mortality. My winter birthday followed the fall of my great grandmother’s death. It wasn’t the first death I’d known, but it was the first to capture the passage of time, the end of an era; my mother’s family fractured with my great grandmother’s passing. I mourned the loss of history and knew life would continue, irrevocably altered.
I also journeyed the furthest I’d ever been from home. I flew to San Francisco to meet an older man with whom (I thought) I’d fallen in love. Alas, I arrived and did not live happily ever after; in fact, I didn’t even get naked with the guy. But I did stumble upon a Hare Krishna Parade in Golden Gate Park, watch the very first episode of South Park while sitting on Bob’s couch (yes, his name was Bob)—and also suffered such an intense loneliness and desire for another that I felt as if I’d conjured a ghost from his third floor bay windows.
When I returned from the West Coast, with months of 19 yet to enjoy, I remembered the bean Harmony Rae had given me the summer before. I’d never really forgotten; I’d simply been unsure what to do with it. But when I returned to Ohio, full of disappointment, I knew the bean must hold some secret! I began carrying it in my pocket and sleeping with it under my pillow. On moonlit nights, I would gaze obsessively into the bean’s uncanny sheen, its reflective texture reminiscent of both the veins of flesh and fissures of a gem. All my dreams of love, all youthful aspirations, creative verve, and my deepest, darkest, subconscious wickedness bombarded the bean with intense curiosity and desire.
But years then passed. I thought less and less about the bean. It didn’t changed, though I did. I took it with me after I graduated college, and as I moved from state to state. I kept it—never anything more than a bean—with other keepsakes, sometimes on display with my knickknacks, but more and more often, I stored it in a box.
When Harmony called almost fifteen years later, I had completely forgotten about the bean, so buried it had become with the material remnants of history we squirrel away, only to remember when we go digging again.