I had a flash of memory from John’s life on Wednesday, during class of all things.
I remembered being in a dentist’s office on what I took to be the high street in Ledbury some years before the war. It was a narrow store front affair, with cabinets full of dentist tools to one side. I was there getting a tooth pulled which was very unpleasant. Afterward, the dentist handed me a squat brown bottle which I assume had some sort of patent medicine that would probably get you 20 years hard time for having on your person nowadays.
Also, on this upcoming trip to California, I’ve warmed up to the idea of treating it more like a real vacation. I’m actually pretty excited about some of the things I’m going to see along the way. Hopefully I’ll have time to spend an evening with a friend in Eureka, and of course I’ll be sure to cruise the Avenue of the Giants with my fiance.
I think the time for me to suspend disbelief that I was Phil is over though. The time has come for me to approach this trip as if I know nothing. I’m still going to see if I know my way around the area better than I normally would from clicking through the route on Streetview and I’m going to make note of anything unusual that happens on the trip (including flashes of memory), but I’ve let go of my main goal of confirming and triggering memories. It’s just not worth it any more. Even if I was him, it doesn’t matter any more. I’m not him any more, I’m just someone who is oddly similar but with my own identity, history, name, and achievements.
As far as anyone, from my friend in Eureka to the owner of the B&B and the waiters at the Cafe Med will know, I’m just a hipster writer from Portland taking a literary tour and soaking in the scenery and culture. I’ll happily embrace that role, because the alternative is really not helpful to think about right now.