There's this little town called Metzger on the way from Tigard to Beaverton, if you're going down Hall Boulevard. It's one of those delightful little hamlets that you can probably throw a rock across if you've a good arm.
I used to drive down Hall quite a bit. Just as you pass Washington Square, it gets into a heavily forested sort of Oregon-type suburbia that you can see encroaching on Scholls and other small towns. Just as the road branches off to the right, if you look closely, through a line of trees, there's Metzger Park.
Metzger Park has haunted my dreams since I was 8. My memory is good, bordering on eidetic, and I honestly don't think I could drive by the place and not think of Robin if my life were in danger.
When I was 8, there used to be a McDonald's. I think it was on Hall, but it's been a decade and a half, and that detail has slipped. This particular fast-food joint was the gathering place for some kind of fishing trip.
My mother and I got onto a school bus - I think there were several - and they drove us out, down Hall, to Highway 99W, and we went all the way through Tigard and even Sherwood, out all the way to Dundee, to this trout farm called Rainbow Farms. I suppose the trip was probably about an hour, but I've got to be honest. I wasn't paying the slightest bit of attention to the trip. For all I cared, we could have been driving straight into the Pacific Ocean.
There was this, well, girl, sitting next to me. I was 8. Girls were supposed to still have cooties, though I really didn't care. I was already developing a nerd complex; it wasn't like I was going to somehow become less popular.
So this girl and I started to talk. I only remember a few things. Brown hair, short and symmetrical. A bob, I think. Alto voice. I remember the image of her face. And her name, Robin. She was from Metzger, near that park. And she was polite. That more clearly than anything.
I've always been too honest for my own good. I mumbled something to the effect of, "Don't take this badly, but I like you." That same "like" that is spoken of in hushes and whispers on every playground in America at recess.
And Robin says she likes me too. She wanted me to visit her house, in Metzger. I recall getting directions, but I can't remember them. There's the park, and a left, I think, but that's all.
Now, I know, I was just 8, what could I know about soul mates? It's true, I may know next to nothing.
But almost every time I look at that picture of my mother and I at Rainbow Farms, holding the only fish I ever caught, I wonder. What if I do know something?
Every so often, I drive by the park on my way to some place or other. I'd be lying if I said I didn't look for Robin.