Glancing Back, but Not Forward
In high school, we walked everywhere, even though we still had bikes and didn’t yet have cars or many car privileges. One or two of us would start walking to pick up a friend at her house, then those three walked to the next and four to the next house ‘til eight or nine of us girls were gathered, “the clique”—our only goal to stop for a popsicle, fudgesicle,or maybe a Mounds bar at Gunther’s neighborhood store.
Then we circled back, dropping one another off in the approaching dark. I remember carrying the red transistor radio I got for Christmas in 6th grade—listening to all the songs we knew and loved, singing along.
Now, in my 60’s I walk with my husband. I am careful to gather my things before we leave the house: glasses, hearing aids, cell phone, plastic bag and long-handled tongs, rain jacket—oh, and keys!
If I could have seen into the future—to today—from a day in high school, my jaw would’ve dropped at the sight of a personal telephone—of me needing, wearing hearing aids, (though I never could hear very well). The transitional lenses—were they around back then? The sight of the tongs for picking up trash and the idea of it would have been odd. I joke that they’re really my cane. The big round-toed walking shoes, roomy enough for customized insoles—would’ve looked mighty strange to a kid wearing Keds back then.
This is what I think about as I slam the door to our home, how natural it seems to take off in the fresh air—imagining myself then, unable to imagine me today. I pace myself as we hike up the 68 steps into the pine-shaded side of the park, past the rhododendrons and azelias. Lou always notices the male cardinal, his totem. I stop breathing at the sight of a rabbit. We both laugh at the few late July fucsia magnolia blossoms.
And if the veil separating this moment parts for a second so I might glimpse a future time, I shake my head no—glance at Lou, stay in the moment, stay in the moment, stay in this moment.