Happy 100 Days: 1

The trail splits. It bends to the left, arches to the right, and also continues straight. Where next? Choices, choices.
 
A shrug. A grin.
 
How about all of them?
 
We have plenty of time. We find the road, grimace, double back. We pass a playground. The narrow path is bluestone gravel wet in places. We come out by a library. Then we swing around, make the right we previously ignored, and weave our way along the roughest trail of them all. It takes us into the woods. Three white-tail deer stroll through the tangle, browsing on the green remains poking up through the brown. They barely notice our presence and do not leap away when we pass. A single bird calls from a bare branch.
 
The wild place only lasts so long. Soon, we find ourselves spilling out into a trimmed back yard near a trampoline. We wander along wide streets past broad-shouldered houses up on hilltops. It is silent. One woman walks a dog wearing a muzzle. He looks very hard at us. There are no children. The window boxes are still twinkling with Christmas lights. Wreaths still adorn the oak front doors.
 
Once, I coveted. The hunger was intense enough that I sucked the marrow from the imagined misery of the inhabitants. Now, I am happy for the faceless and silent neighbors who have found their moment here. I wish them well. It is strange to enter the place where the Schadenfreude used to reside and to see its absence like a shaft of sunlight across a bare wooden floor. I do not need to live in one of those sprawling mansions. I live here, in this skin. I live in this walk. My home is this forever changing scene and these legs carrying me past houses that belong to others who are my community.  I inhabit the wide ribbon of road that winds down to a creek and sends me up and over the contours of this place.
 
It is all gone by. This I know, so it is not so hard to claim this blade of grass, this low branch, as my own. The people at one address or another will grow old. Like me, like you. They will have their moments of laughing so hard the tears come, the clock stops, the earth shudders to a halt along its trajectory around the sun. I wish them more such moments. I hope someone inside right now knows nothing but Yes and spares no thought for me.
 
Today, a haze blankets the sky. It keeps us warm while making us lose our way. A single airplane rubs its back along the low-slung atmosphere. Conversation sputters. We find two long breaths and the pause makes us nervous. We forget where to turn. It does not matter. We find a way back to where we started.
 
It is not the same place we left.
 
It never is. Never. No matter how close we get.
 

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