Wednesday, February 13, 2008
like a movie scene
Just a little while ago F and I were in the front yard while she pulled the dog around by his leash. I was trying to get her in the stroller for a walk, and she was trying to delay as long as she could. We live on a corner, and a car pulled up to the stop sign across the street. It was an older little sporty thing, a kind of death trap with the SUVs on the road, a car you drop down to get into. A 1970s 240Z or something; white, missing the front bumper, sounding like perhaps it was missing its muffler too. I paused and watched it a moment as it idled there on the corner across from us. Other than the color, it was just like the car my boyfriend had my senior year of high school. His was brown, also missing the front bumper, and smelled always of exhaust, which I came to associate with sweet and good things. As I watched the car I thought sort of nostalgically about my boyfriend and about who I was then, and I waited to see what kind of person was driving this one. The car pulled forward through the stop sign, and drove past us. The driver's window was down and the driver, a younger guy with dark eyes and a hat pulled down over his hair, half smiled at me and lifted his hand in a wave. It was the oddest thing--he looked just like my old boyfriend. Here I was on the lawn of the house I own with my husband, hugely pregnant and puffy, watching my little daughter toddle over the grass and pull a dog twice her size. It's been 18 years since I sat in that exhaust filled car and felt it rumble under me, and I haven't seen him in over 10 years at least. For a moment I stood there sort of stunned, watching the car disappear down the street. I actually wondered if it were my old boyfriend, here in town visiting someone maybe, but that didn't make any sense. I hear about him now and then and he lives far away in another life. But standing on my lawn, for a strange moment there was an overlap, a pause in which my life stretched itself out and sort of folded over. I don't know what these kinds of experiences serve to tell us, but lately I've been thinking I'm not the same person I was then. Yet seeing that car, having the driver smile shyly and wave, reminded me of all the ways in which I am indeed the very same person, the ways the same dreams pass through me now as then.