I'm not sure I'd call myself a creature of habit so much as a slightly over-scheduled parent always seeking efficiency. I do J's pick-ups and Jon does K's because they're on our respective paths. But today the convergence of Julian's first day of camp and K's early school closure left me picking up both boys early—at least by our family's standards. I was excited to have a date with Kai but when I picked him up all he wanted to do was go get his brother. So that's what we did. I convinced him to hold my hand as we walked on the muddy cut-through past run-down buildings and signs with so many instructions—"no dumping," "please don't block the gate." Past purple clovers with bumblebees and rambles of yellow buttercups. I thought of growing up and the old abandoned elementary school whose brick walls I used for bouncing tennis balls. I felt happy. And nostalgic. Kai was just glad to get to see Jules at his climbing camp.
There were not parking spots in the street, or on the lower levels of the garage, so I drove the whole way up. Why stop at 4 when you can go just a little more and see the entire city? So that's what I did. Peering down at a town that doesn't feel like mine so much anymore, I noticed the jewelry shop where Olin bought the diamond he presented me in Maine and thought all of the time we spent on these city streets together, drinking coffee down the street and tea right next door. I noticed the Flynn Theater sign and remembered my dancing days. I spun East to see the tops of UVM halls, that school half the reason I'd come here in the first place. I thought of long summer days spent in a hot Terrill Hall. I thought of lunches at Mirabelle's with my friend Beth. I thought about how this all seemed like a lifetime ago.
And then I circled down the echo-y stairwell. The heavy metal door slammed shut with a bang. A sound I associate with this town. To this day.