Tonight, walking through town, I step up to the road and see the salmon pink of the street light reflecting on wet pavement. Instantly, I am eighteen again, standing alone on the side of a wet roadside in an unfamiliar city, the same canvas bag hanging on my shoulder, and I look off into the dark distance, and I am not sure where I am going. I am sure I’m on the right road, but the night is blacker than most I have seen in my life, the heavy clouds obscuring the stars, and the trees obscuring any light but the one, cold streetlamp.
I was a scared, unsure boy at that moment, for the first time out on my own, together and then again suddenly apart from my first lovers, the wound so fresh it loosk as if it will never heal. The yellow line of the road stretches off in the distance, a lone pair of headlights stare at me from afar, and I trudge off in the direction I know is right, but unsure how far I have to walk. I pass shops, closed for the night, but the lights glowing dimly inside reminding those that pass of the daytime life that inhabits them. I am the only one passing at this time of night — owners and patrons alike are long since shut away in their houses. I may never see these shops by daylight. To me, they will always remain ethereal ghosts, reminding me that I was not a native to that place.
I realize that for my transportation back in time, I am now in this moment as the girl I always was. My life makes more sense now, I have a sense of belonging to my being, and I don’t feel as if I am watching myself from outside this time. Maybe tonight will be the more real memory, pushing out the events that happened years ago.
I cross the street, trying to shake the feeling of being new and alone, trying to regain the comfort that is walking home along the same path I always take. The new pavement, completely unworn, and the far too black road don’t help me feel any closer to here and now. I walk onward. My street, too, like that street long ago is black. No streetlights, no cars. I hear water running into new storm-drains, and this time I remember a Thanksgiving night nearly a half decade ago, bicycling home through heavy rain, watching traffic signals change from blue-green to red and back again as I ignore them — as everyone ignores them, being inside, and I, alone on the road with not a single living being watching me pass. I come home, and the house is still musty, hotter than the cool, damp air outside. Tonight, too, it’s musty — though this is the smell of cat kept indoors for days of rain, not the everpresent must of a damp climate.