I was in the attic. I got tired because it was hot and I was stooped over boxes full of old things, sorting stuff out, looking for something important. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but I found some nice things like some old pictures I had forgotten about. It was nice to find them.
The attic has a particular piney smell. Attics typically are made with the cheaper wood, the kind of wood that you use when you are not worried about what it looks like. All the oak and cherry is on the first floor. The pine is in the attic—the floors and some beams. All attics are the same.
I lay in one of the beds in the attic and closed my eyes. I let myself be in the place. Miles made his little Shangri-La up there. I spent time in our attic back home when I was his age. It was quiet. Nobody went up there. A part of me has always appreciated the stuff that nobody else likes. If you can learn to enjoy a space that nobody else likes, then there is more of it for you. I eat the gristle and fat. I look for the books in the library that haven’t been checked out in a while. I find the places that nobody else finds and I see what is good about it, discover what is rare in it and special, and I can own it as my own. Nobody else wants it, so I can have it all to myself. Treasure is not an absolute quality.
I was in the bed, eyes closed. I felt back in that time and space in my own life, and when I reach that kind of state sometimes, I feel close to Miles. He was so unlike me yet like me in many ways. I think he also liked the things that are harder to like for most people. We valued some of the same things in things. When I reach those psychological states and find myself reminded powerfully of my own youth, I like to think that I am occupying a mental space that Miles also experienced, but which he experienced in its original raw form, not as a recollection. We may come to it from different directions, but when I reach it I feel like I understand something about myself and him that I never knew before.
When I was in the attic, I found this picture. I always liked it because our smiles are so similar. Neither of us knew it at the time the snapshot was taken. When we developed this roll of film and saw our faces with our little smiles, I realized that Miles is like me and of me and I am like him and of him in a lot of ways, little ways and big ways.