Monday, December 6, 2010

December 6, 2010

Today I went shopping for groceries at Trader Joe's. When I came out of the store and was exiting the parking lot, I saw a white commercial airplane climbing at an angle against the blue sky with the bright wisps of cloud. Then I turned the other way. As I drove out of the parking lot towards the street, I passed the panhandling man who now works this part of the lot. He is physically disabled in some way, and stands leaning on his cane, holding a sign in the other hand. He was sitting for awhile, but stood up when he saw cars coming. He was wearing a bright red jacket that looked like it would keep him warm. I've had this dollar in my pocket that keeps falling out, so I leaned over and passed it out the window towards him. I wondered, not for the first time, what happened to the older bald man in a wheelchair who used to frequent this space. Did he get put into a assisted care facility? Did some of his children take him home to live with them. Did he die? I'll never know.

From this direction, I could see the mountains in the southwestern sky of Reno, the same mountains I've been seeing for years. The landscape of Reno is more familiar to me now than almost any landscape, save Azeroth perhaps, but that's not real. I feel like I've been seeing these mountains forever, these buildings, these tree trunks, all of it, for a very long time. I am 43 right now, what will I think of this in 20 years. How will I remember this point in my life. Will I yearn to return to it, the way I now wish I could go back about 10 years and live those years over. What would I do if I could? Nothing different, I'm sure, but maybe I could savor them more.

I can remember southern California, actually, some of the spaces I loved there. Virginia seems so hazy to me, the most familiar things being those I've seen in photos, but a recollection of what things looked like out of the back of my first house. There were no developments behind us at the time, and we looked out onto empty land, a gully of sorts, there was a large water pipe in the distance and the red clay of the undeveloped soil. And there were a few houses we could see far off. I always wondered where exactly those homes were, what streets was I seeing. Now, I'm sure, it's all built up.

I drove past the convention center, past the Atlantis casino hotel. The sky was blue with some white wispy clouds. The sun was golden at this time of afternoon in winter, which has the effect of making the tree trunks look even darker. The temperature was cool at 55 but not cold. Up ahead on my drive I could see the pointy crowns of very tall pines, the sequoia pines that don't naturally grow here or even thrive here according to the tree experts. But someone must have thought they belonged her at some point when southwestern Reno was being developed, because a number were planted. Looking up at them on a ridge, standing in a row, they look like giants. The can obscure the mountains right in front. But they aren't any taller than some of the oaks we have. I guess they need time to get really big.

The street is like the streets where I first grew up, patched blacktop, rolling hills in places. There is one part of Reno that reminds me every fall and winter of the street where I grew up, for reasons that have less to do with actual physical resemblance and more to do with the feeling it evokes in me...every time I see it at a certain point in the year, with the sun shining on the street and against some of the buildings, I'm reminded of Fairmont Avenue, of that kind of sunny but cold leafless time of year, with Green Bay Packers football on tv. The sun on the brick and siding of the small homes, some of which looked like little boxes with roofs and no eaves. The wires of roof antennas and the dark look of the telephone poles with their wires--it all stood out in the cold, golden sun of late fall. I think there is a photograph that looks down my street, and the light is similar to the light I often see on Arlington as I pass the golf course. But, of course, the cars are newer. And there is a Starbucks.

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