This morning, I changed into sweats, laced up my sneakers and headed out the door for a breezy, sunny morning walk. Last Saturday morning I did the same, 3000 miles from here. I walked from my sister’s house to my hometown high school. Stood outside the classroom window where I taught English 32 years ago, Stood for a few moments in the “smoking area” where I hung with my high school friends more than 40 years ago. Then I walked across the street, and headed back to my sister’s home. Time and place swirl in my head.
I had flown East with my youngest daughter to visit my folks over Memorial Day weekend. On Monday morning we headed to the local elementary school to watch the town parade by. I sat between my mother and my brother, both of them shouting out to the passers-by, waving, and smiling and laughing. I hardly knew a soul. And I can’t stop thinking about that.
We left town for California nearly 30 years ago. Raised four children here. Pursued careers here. Made a life here. And I keep wondering. Who would we be if we’d stayed in one place? Which of those people in the crowd would I know, or call friend? What paths would my daughters have taken? Where would they have gone to college? Where would we be now?
It’s unanswerable. In many ways, it’s unimaginable, this other life. We are who we are in this time and place. There and then + Here and now = This life.