As I drove back to town yesterday, I saw a school bus drop-off a young, red headed boy at a farm. A long, straight lane lay between the highway and a white farmhouse. The boy shuffled along, chin tucked to his coat in the cool afternoon. He must make this walk most days of the year, and I began to wonder whether he notices the place as he walks, or perhaps his head is filled by other thoughts (or filled by music in his ears). I wondered how the lane and the farmhouse would change as he makes this walk for several more years, but mostly I wondered how his view of the place would change over time.
What do we do with ‘the everyday’ in our memories?
When I was the age of the red headed boy, I lived only three blocks from school. I remember the sun on the houses, a brightness, as I walked. I remember an older man in the neighborhood who would stand under his buckeye tree to wait for his grand daughter. From a little older, it’s the winters I recall. I would walk home in the darkness from basketball practice, the cold freezing my breath, and I would identify constellations in the night sky. Find the Big Dipper. The Pole Star. Find Orion. When I was in high school, I drove my Chevrolet Impala each day to a schoolhouse situated on the prairie—really just a spot among cornfields—between the three towns of the ‘consolidated’ school district. After school, on my drive home I would slide a tape of Bob Dylan in the 8-track and sing loudly along: “HOW . . . many roads . . . must a man . . .walk down . . . BEFORE . . . we call . . . him a man.”