I live about a mile from my office. The route is a straight shot down a busy local road. Some mornings I lose track of time, sometimes I am under the weather. On those mornings I drive the three minutes to the municipal lot, pay the three dollars to park, and walk the thirty yards to my building.
But most mornings, I walk.
The first fifty paces or so have no sidewalk. Here I wade through high grass, duck under overgrown hedges, and worry about ticks at the edge of a property long-abandoned and shuttered.
When I reach the sidewalk from the shadowy pass, the nine o’clock sun warms the right side of my face as I head north past rows of houses lined with bushes and mailboxes, trash cans and pear trees. I am quick and my stride is long. I pass the houses rapidly, and the sun flashes like a film projected on Super 8 as it breaks through with shuttered golden light between rooftops and the branches of trees overhead. The leaves rustle and flick the light onto me.
In that light I see moments of my life illuminated. That warm light projects my mind into my own periphery, and I see friends long forgotten, jumping into backyard pools with our hands held tight, trying to create a splash larger than ourselves. I see my first love lean down to kiss my forehead early one Saturday morning while I pretend to be asleep. I see my father singing along to Elvis in the driver’s seat of his Toyota Highlander, turning to smile and help me learn the words. I see his hollow cheeks years later, his pallid complexion. In that moment I see my own fear.
I see heartbreak and solitude and nights where silent tears took place of sleep. But I also see moments of joy, surprise, laughter. Being caught, out of breath, in a game of tag. The other, joyful solitude. Moments where togetherness warmed a table or a room in dead winter. The sun continues to warm and reflect, and the movie plays on.
Then I reach the center of town and turn east, disrupting the projections. Men renovating a building on the corner jolt me with their screeching saws and power drills. I reach my building, lift the heavy door and enter my office. The four walls blot the sun from all directions.
Editor’s note: This story is part of our September 2016 series ‘Hundreds of Words about Location: Where are you, and how does it affect how you see the world?’
Lauren Yobs is a reader, writer and graphic designer based in North Jersey. She thinks handwriting and baseball are worth more than we give them credit for, hops flights frequently, and prefers her beaches cold and coffee hot during all seasons. Give her a shout on Twitter @LEYobs.