There was a flower in the air that I couldn't name, but that my heart recognized and my childhood knew. Woodsmoke, too, with the fragrance of food in its midst. A dad and his two daughters made their way down the crooked sidewalk; one on training wheels, the other on a tricycle. A far-off yard with a tall wooden fence hid behind a home, the way Mimi's yard had been. There was a man getting his plastic-wrapped paper from the middle of his small, mowed, waist-high picketed front yard. He waved and called over it to ask how I was doing. I wasn't a neighbor by deed, but by presence, through genuine regard that crossed over mailboxes. An Easter bunny banner hung from a flagpole on a white pillar of another home that I studied.
The middle-aged couple that I hadn't noticed on its front porch enjoyed the young summer evening and the continuous shade of massive gnarled trees that accommodated several yards at a time, including theirs. The aged majesty gained from paint made pastel by time colored building after building in personalities that I was sure had been gleaned from my own past. A speckled cat crouched under a car in someone's gravel driveway. Overgrown hedges reached through fences, over my head into unintentional arches. There was the birdsong that I had always heard in the morning of the summers in my childhood home, but forgotten then to listen to. And then a farm smell that momentarily mixed with everything else I was already breathing deeply. It was nostalgia. No, not even that. The past was actually here. I was reliving so many different parts of my past in settings. In smells. I wanted it its safety in permanence. Wanted to knock on the most gentle-looking front door and ask to hide there from life for a little while. It was a compilation of manicured memories, composed of the essence that is often missing when I revisit places too many years later. These dozens of different homes were making me realize my past wasn't gone; just being lived by others instead. I was walking through a memory that I'd gently forgotten; the kind of memory that doesn't come in words or events, but in whole emotions that can't be remade and are so carefully constructed, they are rarely experienced again. Yet happiness seemed such a simple equation. "Now" almost felt stationary and its boundaries reached so far that I could never walk out of them. The greatest possession of all had to be this kind of peace, and nothing else.